Sunday, December 13, 2009

What? Why? How? Where?


Genre: Humor

Ever wondered what goes on in the minds of most people in the world? Thanks to Google, we now know the answer. You must have noticed that when you start typing something in Google’s search box, it automatically generates a list of most popular searches related to what you are typing. A majority of the world population does not know that Google Search is based on keywords, and as a result they “ask” Google questions in complete sentences as if they are talking to a real person, and in the process generate an interesting list of what’s going on in the minds of citizens of the world. Here are some samples of the same-

(Note: My picks are highlighted)

how (You need Google to tell you that???)

what(Start Googling, what else!)

when(Aah! If only we all could know that from Google!)

where(Ana, you wanna answer that? :D )

who(Yeah, really! WHO is she?)

why    (LOL! ROFL!)

This is how the World thinks. It is a well-known fact that we Indians think differently than others, and running the same exercise on Google India substantiates this claim to the core! Check out-

how india(Hum aur hamara shaitan dimaag!!!) 

what india(Aah! Humko iski bahut jyada chinta rehti hain!)

when india(It happens only in India!)

where india(Army walo, yeh method use kiya hota toh shayad jaldi mil jaata!)

who india   (Deshdrohi!!!)

One final word – if you want more fun, try running the same exercise on Google Pakistan. Before we end, just a sample of what type of stuff to expect-

why pak(NO COMMENTS on this!!!)

Friday, December 4, 2009

2 States?


Genre: Blabber

No, contrary to what the title may suggest, this is NOT going to be a review of Chetan Bhagat’s latest novel narrating a cross-border love story between a Punjabi boy and Tamilian girl fighting regional bias to unite. I read the book at one go yesterday night and somewhere down the line, I felt like the point he is trying to drive home and some of the clichés he has mentioned are very true even today in Indian society – we Indians, intentionally or unintentionally, have created bias amongst ourselves based on language and geography and this is passed on from generation to generation.

One look around and you’ll know what I mean. Even today, most people in Maharashtra/Gujarat refer to everyone living south of Mumbai as a ‘Madrasi’ who eats idli-dosa for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At the same time, folks in Andhra/Karnataka/Kerala/Tamil Nadu desist from learning and/or communicating in Hindi and call it “language of North Indians” conveniently forgetting the fact that it is the National Language first.

I don’t even need to remind the case of two desperate political parties in Maharashtra that have been going around creating divide among Mumbaikars by branding residents from “UP-Bihar” as aliens and their typical “North Indians are stealing jobs of Marathi people” rant. And the worst part is, a sizeable cross-section of the society even justifies this state-based division.

Forget about politicians, I found a glaring example of this linguistic bias right here in Blacksburg. Every now and then I hear that there is a “Tamil Potluck”* or “Telugu Potluck”  and the likes being organized over the weekend and I didn’t understand what was the point of adding the linguistic condition. This is something that baffled me at first. I had come expecting that here in an alien nation, 15,000km from our motherland, all Indian students would be living as one united group representing the country as a whole. Someone might argue that we ARE united, but the fact remains that our linguistic bias refuses to leave us even here.

Another example- the moment I mention something about a South Indian movie, an army of ardent lovers of these movies will shoot back “Your Hindi movies are no better” as if I own the Hindi film industry. Why can’t we give up this “mine” and “your” and look at it as “our”? Is it that difficult to unite as Indians first? Have we forgotten our history when British took advantage of this very fact and successfully implemented their “Divide and Rule” policy?

It’s high time we realise that above 28 States and scores of languages, we are a part of ONE NATION. Making one billion people realize this is a Herculean task, but someone has to do it. WE have to do it, like Krish and Ananya did. To start off, we probably need to look up to Sardar Patel for inspiration for this. If he could unite 522 princely states to form a single entity called India, we can definitely unite and bring 28 States together and make one UNITED STATES OF INDIA.

* “Potluck” is a dinner party where everyone brings one dish to share.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Those Were The Days…

Genre: Entertainment

Long before television was flooded with soap operas and reality shows, when Internet had not penetrated into the average household, GTalk, Facebook and Orkut were not the most popular means of timepass, most Indian kids used to look forward to classic Disney cartoons for enjoyment and when I think about it now, how I wish I could go back to those days of clean and simple entertainment, away from the clutter that we call “entertainment” today. If you were in primary school in India of the early 1990s, chances are that you were as big a fan of these classic cartoons as I am.

Thanks to YouTube I managed to find videos of title tracks of some of these all-time favorites. As you see each of the videos below, try humming the theme song along and I am pretty sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised at yourself that you still recognize all the characters and know almost all the title songs by-heart!

Here we go-

Duck Tales: The adventures of Uncle Scrooge probably remain the most popular among Indian kids of the 90s (which includes me too). I have even seen instances of this title song being sung in Antakshari on college trips as late as 2008!

Aladdin: This one used to be my personal favorite. In those innocent days, Jadooi Kaalin was the funkiest thing to possess, Iago the motor-mouth parrot was too funny and Jasmine was probably my first “crush” long before I even knew what it means!

TaleSpin: This is yet another series I never missed. Baloo the pilot and his little wiz-kid was the coolest jodi around and I used to eagerly await to see what new “adventures” they are upto every evening. 

Gummi Bears: This was probably not as popular as the other ones, but it used to be my personal favorite (alongwith Aladdin) and I distinctly remember Zee TV screening the two of these back-to-back every alternate evening on Disney Hour.

(I couldn’t find the Hindi version of this anywhere! If someone has it, please let me know!)

This discussion would not be complete without a tribute to our very own desi cartoon hero. Yes, you guessed it right – Mowgli! Hats off to The Jungle Book for surviving even among the barrage of Disney cartoons. By the way, if you can’t sing along THIS song, doob maro!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

They Don’t Believe – The Larger Picture

Genre: India

Continuing from my previous post on how people from other cities in India refuse to believe some common realities about Mumbai, moving one step ahead, here is a sample of misconceptions harbored by Americans about India as a whole.

They refuse to believe that multi-national food chains like McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Subway exist in all Indian cities and that most of us 21st century Indians have grown up on staple diet of same (unhealthy!) fast food as them!

They refuse to believe that we have access to English music and Hollywood movies in our homes and that most of us are as ardent fans of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and VH1 as them.

They refuse to believe that all of us who have come here for our Masters and are in our twenties are un-married and not even thinking of getting married anytime soon. Their impression is that in India, everyone gets married by eighteen.

They refuse to believe that Indian cities have 50-floor high skyscrapers and underground metro networks. In fact, most amusing part was an American grown up in rural Blacksburg asking me if landscape in “under-developed places” like Mumbai comprises of fields and forests! I so much wanted to tell him - “Idiot, on the contrary, it’s YOU who lives in a village!”

For most Americans, India still remains an under-developed third-world nation in some obscure corner of the world. And I don’t blame them completely. Agreed that people in this part of the world are intellectually challenged but we are the one who have played a major role in creating this image of India in the Western world.

We are the ones who lap up a British movie showcasing extreme-negative image of India and proudly claim it to be “Indian” movie simply because it won the Best Picture Oscar. More than that, we have “leaders” throwing shoes and slapping fellow legislators in the House, setting public property on fire without caring a damn to the fact that these “action scenes” are telecast live on TV and makes world news, eventually strengthening India’s image of a “poor law-less country stuck in anarchy and ruled by barbaric hooligans”.

It’s high time we realize we have inflicted enough damage to India’s reputation in the world and it is going to take substantial effort to correct this (if at all someone decides to). In the meantime, the next time an American exclaims “Oh My God! You have McDonalds and Pizza Hut in India???” (heard this almost 10 times so far!), I am simply going to tell - “No man! Are you crazy? We live on a staple diet of grass and mud.”

PS: This is my first post published using Windows Live Writer that came with my Windows 7.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

They Don't Believe!

Genre : India

After numerous “my city vs your city” comparison talks in the last two months with students from all over India (including many who have never been to Mumbai), I find it hard to believe that they don’t believe some common facts about Mumbai:

They don’t believe that in Mumbai, auto-rickshaw drivers actually charge by the meter and not in multiples of 10 (Their city : “50 lagega…chalo 40 de dena!”)

They don’t believe that in Mumbai, you cannot evade traffic cop by bragging about your family (Their city : “Jaanta hai mera baap kaun hai?”)

They don’t believe that in Mumbai, local trains have a First and Second Class and all passengers strictly follow the distinction (Their city: “Ghus jaane ka na kidhar bhi…kaun dekhta hai”)

They don't believe that in Mumbai, male passengers never travel in coaches in trains marked as 'Ladies' (Their city: "Voh sab toh likha rehta hai. Padhta kaun hai". See Proof in photo.)

They don’t believe that in Mumbai, if you are caught travelling in First Class with a Second Class ticket, you will always be charged a fine of Rs 250 (Their city: “TC ko Rs 20 chai-paani de deneka. Baat khatam”)

They don’t believe that in Mumbai, city bus drivers actually follow road rules. (Their city : “Jahaan passenger dekha, vahaan road ke beech me bus khada kar denge”)

They don’t believe that in Mumbai you have to stop at all traffic signals and follow all road signs. (Their city : “Itna sab dekhte baithta toh paagal ho jaata”)

They don’t believe that in Mumbai, you can hail a taxi just like an auto-rickshaw and pay by the meter reading. (Their city : “Taxi ka fixed rate lagega. Rs 200 se kam kuch nahi”)

They don't believe that in Mumbai, you have to always wear a helmet while driving a two-wheeler (Their city: "Koi nahi pehenta. Police wala kitne logo ko pakdega?")

They don’t believe that in Mumbai, you can get everything from Pav Bhaji and Vada Pao to Pizza and Noodles on the roadside carts (Their city : “Pav Bhaji aur Pizza koi road pe thode hi bechta hai!”)

I always knew Mumbai was well-behaved, organized and different from other cities of India, but didn’t know the difference was so stark!

Proud to be a Mumbaikar!

PS : The above facts have been compiled from subjects coming from Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Vadodara. Discerning reader should be able to distinguish comments by cities.

My apologies to readers who do not understand Hindi. Translating the comments into English would kill the fun!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Breaking (apart the) News!

Genre: Current Affairs

The ghastly train collision between Mewad Express and Goa Express near Mathura yesterday once again gave the Indian news channels fodder to go into an overdrive of over-reacting, broadcasting unverified blasphenous theories and in general create an atmosphere of chaos and confusion among the common junta who tends to believe whatever is said in news as the truth.

The background - Yesterday around 04:45am IST, Vasco-Nizamuddin Goa Express rammed into Udaipur-Nizamuddin Mewad Express outside Mathura in Uttar Pradesh resulting in the death of more than 25 passengers and injuring hundreds of others. The reason for the accident is not known but prima facie it looks like the Loco Pilot of Goa Express overshot a red signal resulting in rear-end collision with Mewad Express waiting ahead. As soon as the news about the accident spread, all the "intelligent" news channels were out in the field reporting their own "theories" and "exclusive reports" about the cause of the accident in what seemed like a competition to prove their Stupidity Quotient. Sample this-

So, first we have Times Now with a reporter shouting from the accident site, starting off with "This Goa Kranti blah blah" and two minutes later, re-christening the train - " here you see Goa Sampark Express.. blah blah" without giving a damn to the goof-up. Goa Sampark Kranti Express is a completely different train from the Goa Express which was involved in the collision. Imagine the plight of relatives of passengers travelling by Goa Sampark Kranti Express who would be getting all worried about the whereabouts of their loved ones after seeing this report when the fact is that the train mentioned by the reporter was thousand kilometeres away from the accident site!

Next comes NDTV's coverage (Click for Video) who went one step ahead and caught hold of an ignorant passenger who, only too eager to be on TV, cooked up an impromptu, absolutely illogical absurd "theory" claiming that the driver was not driving Goa Express properly and kept on changing tracks frequently (as if the train is an auto-rickshaw on a crowded street) resulting in the collision. I do not blame the poor passenger for not knowing that changing tracks is not under the control of the train driver- it is automatically monitored from control towers; but NDTV should have atleast taken the effort to verify if this theory is plausible before broadcasting it on national television.

There were reports that someone pulled the Emergency Chain in Mewad Express causing it to halt on the tracks and Goa Express running right behind had no time to stop and rammed into Mewad Express from behind. But IBN thought this is not juicy enough, so they decided to add a filmy twist to the tale- their version of the accident claims that there was a dreaded dacoit from Kota being transported in Mewad Express who decided to flee from running train. So, the police on board pulled the Emergency Chain to chase the dacoit but he managed to run away! Wow! Let's have a big round of applause!

And then comes the greatest of them all- Aaj Tak! After spending around five minutes shouting in their typical style, begins the "insightful discussion" on the cause of the collision where a reporter shouts at the top of his voice "The biggest question we are asking is...Why were both trains running on the same track? The adjacent track was empty... why did the driver of Goa Express not turn his train to the adjacent track???" What the hell! Even a school kid knows that on double track sections, one track is for Up trains and other is for Down trains. It's not some Delhi road where you can drive in any lane as per your wish!

Enough! Stop it you bloody idiots! It's high time these publicity-hungry channels are taken to task for making a complete mockery of news reporting. My heart goes out to the Loco Pilot of Goa Express and the Guard of Mewad Express who bore the most serious brunt, and to all the passengers who lost their lives in this unfortunate accident.

P.S.: I am still waiting to hear India TV's take on this. If someone finds it, please let me know.

P.P.S. (for railfans only): The damaged loco is GZB WAP-4 #22723

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Amrika Me Aisa Kya Hai...?"

Genre: Humor

I usually do not write consecutive posts on same/similar topics but making an exception this time owing to popular demand. Ever since I moved to अमरीका के संयुक्त राज्य (USA for the uninitiated) from Mumbai two months back, I have been bugged with queries on the lines of “America me aisa kya hai jo India me nahi?”. So here we go- some interesting (and not-so-interesting) observations about life in USA viz-a-viz life in India-

Cleanliness and Discipline – Tonnes of paper (and Gbs of webspace) has been wasted on this topic so I will not add much to the clutter, but add just a few pennies- what struck me (and fellow Desis) the most immediately on landing on American soil was the difference in level of cleanliness all around- till date we have not been able to figure out after all where does all the dirt, dust and assorted pollutants go in this country? It's so clean that I don't feel the need to take a bath for days together! (Oops! I revealed a closely-guarded secret!)

Discipline (especially on the roads) is another aspect that is hard to digest for us Desi people. After all, while in India, when was the last time (or maybe the only time) you actually searched around for a Zebra Crossing to cross a two-lane street? Here, pedestrians crossing the road is considered an event bigger than The Big Bang and the moment you step onto a road, all cars will stop for the VIP (i.e. you) to cross! Similarly, if you are driving on a multi-lane road, at a red signal, you will find 25 cars halting one behind the other in one lane even when the adjacent lane is completely empty! Compare this with the scene in India where on a two lane road, we have a left lane and a right lane interspersed with a scooter lane, rickshaw lane and occasionally a cow/bullock cart lane! So much is the obsession with discipline that all the footpaths are color-coded with different colors representing different rules on stopping/parking- this is something I realised only when I gave my Driving License Test- I always used to think the colors are purely for decorative purpose!

Manners and Dressing – We were told umpteen times during the various Pre-departure orientations that Americans are very friendly people and this seems true, atleast in the first month of arrival- random people will greet/smile at you on the streets and everyone, including the Bus Driver says “Hi” and “Thank You” to boarding / disembarking passengers. Imagine the driver and conductor of BEST's 84 Ltd doing that in morning peak hours! Another interesting point worth mentioning here is that while we think that Americans are very formal and cleanliness-freaks, the fact is that will sit down virtually anywhere – on the pavement, in the aisle in the bus, in the corridors...and you thought this happened only on our railway stations in India!

When it comes to American dressing, I am sure the fashion-conscious (Indian) girls would have a lot to crib about – wearing non color-coordinated, un-ironed, mis-fitting (too large or too small) clothes is the trend here! Another area that is a potential research topic (provided VT gives us funding for it) is trying to figure out the genetic mutation that makes the American girls feel cold only in upper half of the body- after all what explains wearing full-sleeved tshirts an jackets teamed with mini-skirts?  

The Crowd – I do not know if this is a pan-USA phenomenon or limited to the College Town of Blacksburg, but I have found the crowd (read: students) to be very courteous and friendly। Everyone will hold the door open for you, make liberal use of “Hi”, “Sorry” and “Thank You” and most of them (especially the undergrad girls) will smile back if you just look at them! A related point worth noting here- a lot of Spanish/Latin American girls on campus look very similar to Indian girls and I have found out that the only way to clear out the confusion is to just look at her and smile- if she smiles back, she is Spanish/Latin American; if she gives a grumpy “Who are you?” look, she is Indian for sure.  

The Bollywood Connection - Even before you finish saying "Indian movie...", every single soul here will jump back with "Yeah! I have seen Slumdog Millionaire!". Tell them that is NOT an Indian movie, and then the real fun begins. So we have all possible samples from Li Hu, the Chinese PhD student who entertained us with an (awful) rendition of "Tum Paas Aaye" from Mohabbatein to Matt, my Black Manager at Food Court who raves about seeing Dhoom to the Nepali co-worker who, of all the movies, decides to give me a detailed appreciation of TIRANGA ("Nana Patekar. Solid!"). Three cheers to Bollywood- Taking India to the World!

I guess I will stop here before the “moral police” comes with a danda, branding me “Anti-Indian”!

१०० में से ८० बेईमान,
फिर भी मेरा भारत महान!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

That I May Serve...

Genre: College Life

Virginia Tech's motto reads “Ut Prosim” meaning “That I May Serve” and most of the newly admitted students, myself included, get the opportunity to take up this motto a bit too literally – by joining one of the Food Courts on campus! Virginia Tech consistently bagged the “Best On-Campus Food among all US Universities” award over the last five years, thanks to four huge Food Courts serving a wide variety of cuisines and employing over 700 students at any given time. This made sure the poor unfunded graduate students (like me) got at least some job (read: money!) As I complete one month as Food Service Technician at Owens Food Court, I would like to share some observations and experiences encountered during my first “job” ever.

The most memorable moment was undoubtedly the very first minute I started my job- I was assigned the duty of serving food at Carvery – the American meal outlet at Owens. The very first customer came and demanded Scrambled Eggs. Just as I was about to put some of them into a dish, he stopped me and said, “No. I want To Go.” I wondered- “if you want to go, just get moving. Why are you telling me?”. It was then that my Manager came in and explained that “To Go” means he wants the food in a styrofoam box to take away (parcel!). New Land. New Vocabulary!

Over a period I have noticed that the Americans have some strange food habits- the most common being pretending to be health conscious. They will order, for example, Double Cheese Burger and DIET Coke! Come on, what's the point! Similarly, in an attempt to eat “healthy”, they eat a lot (and I mean a LOT) of raw lettuce and spinach and because it is so tasteless (even by their standards), they will add a dozen different fat-rich dressings like Ranch, Thousand Island, Golden Italian and what not! But what freaked me out the most is the dining schedule of the Americans – my Food Court serves Lunch only from 11am to 1pm and believe it or not, dinner time is 5pm-8pm! I used to have my evening snacks around that time back home!

One thing that I really appreciate about my job is Dignity of Labor and Equality- nobody behaves like a “boss” nor are we at any point of time made to think that we are “waiters” or “cleaners”. At busy times, even the General Manager cleans the tables along with students at Customer Service and nobody is singled out to do “dirty” job like taking out the trash. The work environment is very casual and the Managers make it a point to appreciate every single small job well done by the student employees.

While the work of serving food, cleaning tables or collecting dishes and washing them doesn't seem interesting at first, the perks of working at Dining Centers are many- first and foremost- the Meal Coupons! Every shift I work gives me one meal coupon which entitles me to unlimited free food the next day at D2 (VT's biggest multi-cuisine Food Court serving everything from American to Italian to Mexican to Chinese and Mediterranean). Apart from that, while at work, I am allowed to have as many glasses of cold-drinks as I want from the Fountain as long as I don't ignore my work for that. And then there are other perks- getting to know a lot of fellow students and of course, the biggest motivating factor for any guy to work at the Food Courts is the crowd! There is plenty of “bird-watching” opportunity and call it my luck that most of the days I work at either the Organic food shop or Salad bar- two places which are frequented by a LOT of beautiful American girls! Moreover, the girls here (especially the undergrads) smile a lot (some of them clearly fake it) but every evening, invariably I come across atleast a couple of customers (female of course!) who give an aww-so-sweet genuine smile before leaving the counter and that makes you feel that the effort you do is worth it!

From collecting and washing a thousand dishes in one evening to re-filling 66 different salad items continuously, I have done it all, and how much am I paid for it? Well, I will put it this way- my 14 hours of work at Owen's (after conversion to Indian rupees) is paying me more than the salary Wipro had offered me during campus placement last year!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Elusive Princess

Genre: Fantasy

Once there was a young wanderer who met a beautiful girl in The City of Dreams. He instantly fell in love with her innocence. Over a period of time, they got to know each other, but never good enough. They were always around each other but not as much as he would have liked. He used to yearn to see a glimpse of her. Her sweet smile made him go weak in his knees. Her innocent giggle used to bring a smile to his face. His only misfortune was that she was always in her own world. He cared for her, went out of his way for her, and expected her to be with him in his thick and thin but she never realized it.

Then came a time when he had to move away- to a faraway land across the ocean. Before leaving, he wanted to see her one last time, but she did not come to meet. At the eleventh hour before his departure, he tried to let her know his feelings but she, being in her dream-world, did not care about it. Finally, from his new home in the new land, he wrote to her, expressing his love that he could not express in person, and began the long wait, eagerly expecting her reply. Days passed, months passed, but he did not hear anything from her. Till date, he lives in hope, and for him, she remains The Elusive Princess.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

You are a Graduate Student if...

Genre: College Life

What is is like to be a Graduate Student in a US university?
Quoting from my Virginia Tech Graduate Student Assembly t-shirt:

You know you are a graduate student when...

... your most intimate relationship is with your computer.

... you procastinate by searching for online journals.

... you think work is fun.

... you assign grades to people's conversations.

... you find yourself citing sources in conversations.

... you've been caught sleeping in lab.

... you avoid young attractive people because you're afraid you might be their TA.

... people keep asking when you'll graduate and you have no idea.

... you have a college degree and still ask your parents for money.

... you can't even afford this t-shirt.

Graduate Student Assembly at Virginia Tech

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Adios, Alvida, Aavjo!

This is my last post from Indian soil as I will be flying to Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, USA in 24 hous from now. I don't want this to be the typical sentimental emotional farewell speech, so instead of focussing on the people I will miss, I am rather focussing on the city I am gonna miss- aamchi Mumbai!
Having lived in Mumbai all my life, I feel nostalgic about each and every aspect of this beautiful city but when I look back today, I just can't help but list out four important aspects of this city that I am gonna miss the most-
From Sardar ka Pav Bhaji to Jumbo King ka Vada Pao. From Chowpati ka bhel to Juhu ka chat, Mumbai is one helluva culinary experience and after gorging on these delicacies for 22 years, my tastebuds are not gonna like the American food!
These three-wheeled contraptions are a necessary evil without which survival in Mumbai's suburbs would have been difficult. Though a lot better than their cheating, fleecing counterparts in other Indian cities, a majority of Mumbai's rickshaw drivers think of themselves as the next Schumacher and it is absoulelty amazing to ride in these speed-monsters!
3. SEA
Be it Marine Drive, Gateway of India, Chowpati, Worli Seaface, Shivaji Park, Bandstand, Juhu, Versova, Aksa, Gorai... the sea in Mumbai never fails to mesmerise me with its beauty. So what if the water isn't crystal clear and the sand strewn with garbage, spending an evening at any of the beaches and promenades by the sea of Mumbai has been my ultimate stress-buster all these years.
Do I even need to say anything? Every single Mumbaikar knows that the local trains are the heart and soul of this city. They may be old, dirty, overcrowded but come rain or sunshine, they are omnipresent- ferrying lakhs of Mumbaikars across the length of the metropolis with amazing reliability and punctuality. No wonder then that I, like most Mumbaikars adore them and the parallel world that the regular commuters create inside them.
I will stop here। Its time to say Adios, Alvida, Aavjo...
ऐ दिल है मुश्किल जीना यहाँ...
ज़रा हटके ज़रा बचके
यह है मुंबई मेरी जान!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Maro Saalo!

Genre: Mumbai

Visualize this-

A middle-aged man jumps off Platform 3 at Malad, wanting to cross over to Platform 4. He sees a Virar bound Fast local approaching far away on Line 3. He misjudges the speed of the train. The train hits him at nearly 100kmph. A black chappal is seen flying in the air. When the entire train has passed, all that is left is a lump of flesh and torn clothes drenched in blood. Within seconds, crows gather over it and start tearing off pieces of flesh...

I am sorry if you found this description too gory. However, it seems thousands of Mumbaikars do not mind dying this way. After all inspite of repeated warnings, education campagins, barricades, fines, even prosecutions, they remain nonchalant and adamant. It might come as a shock to you that while a total of 1200 soldiers were killed in the three wars India fought with Pakistan, almost three times that number- a staggering 3500 people die on Mumbai's railway tracks every single year, and yet nobody seems to care! The railways are not to blame here- WR and CR have both done all that they could to stop people from crossing tracks- warning boards have been put up at all platforms dissuading people from crossing tracks. WR went one step ahead and came up with a jingle which became an instant hit ("Rail Ki Patri... Paar Na Kare") but the irony is that the very passengers who hum this jingle standing on the platforms, jump the tracks the very next moment! Probably realizing the popular Hindi idiom 'Laato ke Bhoot Baaton se nahi maante', both WR and CR even started an intensive anti-trespassing drive and hundreds of track-crossers even went to jail for 3 to 7 days. But even this doesn't seem to deter most of the idiots. The heights of stupidity was reached at Jogeshwari yesterday when a mob went to the Station Master's office demanding that the barricade put up to prevent track crossing be removed because they find climbing the bridge "too tiring"!

This is not an isolated case. Passengers all over Mumbai have come up with the most innovative (and really really stupid) excuses to justify their idiotic act- from the most popular "Come on, I am not blind. I see properly and cross the tracks" and "I am too tired/late/bored to climb the bridge" to the unusual ones like "The bridge has been built in very unusual way and there are too many steps" and "My Rs 2 coin fell down so I am crossing the tracks".

To all these morons, I ask just one question- is saving two minutes orsaving the effort of climbing a few flight of stairs more important than your life? Have you ever imagined what your mom will go through when she comes to know that her son/daughter who had gone to college in the morning is now lying in a morgue in three-four chopped pieces? Have you ever given a thought to what your wife will go through when she comes to know that her husband for whom she was so eagerly waiting all evening is now just a lump of flesh whom she wouldn't be able to recognise? Ever wondered what will be the reaction of your children when they come to know that they will never even get to see the face of their mom/dad who had gone to work in the morning?

If inspite of all this, you justify your track-crossing act, I have only one thing to say- MARO SAALO! GO TO HELL! That's what you deserve!


PS: See THIS video if you haven't seen it so far.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Santa Singh's Moon Mission

Genre: Humour

This is what happens when ISRO decides to send Santa Singh as India's first astronaut on the Moon-

Bolo Ta Ra Ra Ra...!!!

Celebrating 40 Years of First Moon Landing.
"One Small Step for Man...One Giant Leap for Mankind."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Ten Most Memorable Rail Photos

Genre: Life

A lot of my well-wishers have been repeatedly reminding me how much I will miss my beloved Indian Railways once I shift to USA. Today, when exactly one month remains before I leave India, I decieded to travel back in time and mine out some of the best photos I have taken over the years spent on the Indian Railways.

It is said that a photo is worth a thousand words, but sometimes a photo has memories associated with it that needs to be expressed in words. Here are my Ten Most Memorable Railway Photos alongwith the story behind each of them-

1. Swarna Jayanti Express at Shindawane Ghats
This photo remains closest to my heart because of the widespread appreciation it has received from all quarters, including IRCTC who have used it for their advertisement. But, very few people know the story behind this photo- we had gone to Shindawane Ghat near Pune with the Pune gang. After trekking for 3km, the others positioned themselves near a bridge, while Chaitanya egged me to go further and we both crossed the tall bridge, went through a rock cutting and as we were walking, we heard the horn of the approaching train. So, having no time to find a good location, I just managed to climb onto a small hillock by the side of the tracks by the time the train came out of the tunnel and took a photo. The result is what you see above!

2. Patna Express at Padli
This is another "luck-by-chance" photo that has received a lot of publicity, including appearing in DNA Newspaper alongwith the article on IRFCA. After spending around an hour in the blazing sun at Padli near Igatpuri, we decided to quit and move elsewhere. Just as we were making our exit, we heard a horn. Not having any time to adjust myself, I just turned around, pointed the camera at the train and took the shot. It was only on reaching home I noticed the very-European look of this photo.

3. KK at Akkalkot Road
This was during the journey to Bangalore for the IRFCA 2009 Convention. Our train was put in siding at Akkalkot Road just at sunrise time and immediately all of us jumped out onto the tracks to be told that the legendary Karnataka Express (fondly called KK) was to cross. Since there were four other guys also aiming their cameras at the approaching train and the sun was straignt in front of the camera, I decided to go behind the Flag-man. Needless to say, the result was absolutely unbelievable even to me at first!

4. Sewagram on Thull Ghat
This photo is special for it marked the end of hours of wait and a tiring day in the Thull Ghats which involved descending right upto the base of the bridge seen here and climbing up again to this spot. Just as we were packing up, Sewagram Express crossed the bridge and for once, I decided not to focus on the leading loco and rather let the entire train pass and wait for the three Bankers attached at the rear of the train to come onto the bridge.

5. Karnavati at Vaitarna
It was one of the monsoon days when the Mumbai and Pune gang decieded to explore the Western line. While the Pune gang was adamant on going to Saphale, I insisted on getting of at Vaitarna and climbed the hillock next to the station. Even I didn't know how the view from the top would be, but when I saw Karnavati Express slowly entering the bridge in the distance, I was just speechless.

6. Faceoff at Diwankhauti
It was the monsoon trip on Konkan Railway and our Janshatabdi was halted at this tiny station called Diwankhauti for a crossing. Amidst drizzling rain, me and Akshay got off the train and started walking ahead when suddenly the Ratnagiri Passenger approached from behind the rock cuttings. What makes this photo interesting is the red signal exactly in between the two trains, making it look as if two wrestlers are waiting on two sides, ready to pounce upon each other!

7. Rajdhani at Umroli
This was during the scariest railfanning evening I have ever spent. A couple of years ago, Umroli was a ghost station when me, Apoorva and Arzan went there. It was only post sunset we realised that the station has not a single light working! There was quite some time for our return train to arrive, so we had no option but to spend an hour amidst pitch darkness and barking dogs! In the midst of this, the August Kranti Rajdhani came charging in at 120kmph. Unable to see anything in the dark, I just aimed the camera towards the tracks and pressed the trigger, not knowing that the flash was on! The result left all three of us spellbound!

8. CST on Diwali Night
Long before I even owned a digital camera, on the Diwali night of 2006, I was passing by CST by car when I saw the station building beautifully illuminated. Immediately I took out my Sony Ericsson k750i and took this photo from the car itself before the signal turned green. Till today, a lot of people refuse to believe that this was taken using a cellphone camera!

9. Inside Ukshi Tunnel
Ukshi on Konkan Railway is India's only station where trains stop inside a tunnel. I always fantasized how it would feel stopping inside the tunnel but since no express trains have a scheduled halt here, getting this opportunity is totally a matter of chance. I got that chance on recent Kerala trip by Mangala when we were made to wait in siding at Ukshi for Mandovi to cross and my coach being at the fag end of the train, we stopped right in the middle of the tunnel. While a few passengers were getting worried seeing their train stopping in a tunnel, this kid in the next coach was nicely enjoying making for a beautiful silhoutte.

10. The Tourist
It is not necessary to always focus on trains and locomotives alone, sometimes the travellers make for better subjects and one classic case is this photo. I was onboard the Udaipur-Bandra Express where this British lady was my co-passenger. The way she was engrossed in enjoying the Indian countryside intrigued me and I couldn't resist capturing her emotions on camera.

So, is this making you feel that railfanning is an interesting hobby to pursue? Check out IRFCA now! Join the IRFCA Yahoo Group!

PS: Everyone who has the 2009 IRFCA Calender, check out the photo for the month of July! What a coincidence!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I've Got The VISA Power!

Genre: Life

Three months of preparation for those crucial 30 seconds- this is how I can describe my US Visa procurement procedure in one line!

The D-Day was 26th June 2009. Scheduled appointment time- 08:15 am. I reached Mahalaxmi at around 7am and was thanking my fortune that inspite of it being late-June, there were no signs of rain. But I guess, I did that a little too soon. The moment I took the last turn towards US Consulate, it began to rain. And how! Within a minute, it was pouring cats and dogs! The typical Mumbai Monsoon was here!

Protecting myself, and more importanly, my documents, I rushed into the US Consulate building, was asked to go through Security Checks in a tremendous hurry, immediately put in line for Finger Printing and asked to take a seat. All this was done so fast that it took me full ten minutes to regain my composure. And then began the long wait for my turn for the interview. As a policy developed for reasons best known to US Consulate alone, token numbers are called in absolute random order and called out only once. If you miss yours, you are gone! After hearing scores of random numbers being called out, my friend M who also had the interview scheduled at 8:15am was called at 9:00am. I was not so lucky. I had to sit through the number-calling for another 30 minutes before a male voice in American accent spoke from the loudspeakers- "Token Number 954, Window Number 6!"

Immediately I rushed to the counter and this is the unabridged version of what happened in the next minute-

The Visa Officer (VO) was an American male in his thirties, looking quite relaxed and smiling.

ME: Good Morning, sir.
VO: So, which university you going to?
ME: Virginia Tech.
VO: Why Virginia Tech?
ME: Coz it has great courses in my field of specialization- Wireless Communications
VO: What's a Hokie?
ME: It's a bird which is the mascot of Virginia Tech..
VO: Is it really a bird?
ME: It looks like a bird to me..
VO: (interrupting me, concentrating on typing something) You know what, its actually not a bird. Everyone thinks that it's a bird, but nobody actually knows what it'll come to know all this when you go there.
ME: Ok..
VO: What's your GRE score?
ME: 1460
VO: Smart guy, eh!
ME: (with a smile) Thanks sir!
VO: Your Visa has been granted. Your passport will be couriered to you in three days.

This entire conversation didn't take more than a minute! Yay! I've got the Visa!

When I exited the Consulate at 9:40am, it was still pouring heavily and the road outside was half water-logged already! And the best part- by 10:30, the rains subsided and by noon it was dry again! It was as if the Rain Gods wanted it to pour only during my Visa Interview!

If you think this was fun- wait a's not over yet! The impatient people that we are, we decided to personally collect our Visa-marked passports from the VFS office the sme evening rather than waiting for them to courier it. To kill time we went upto Sterling and saw New York - first-day first-show sitting in the first-row! (Don't ask me how was the movie!) Finishing it, we took a cab to go to VFS and the peak hour South Mumbai traffic played the villain. The Passport Collection window at Mahalaxmi is open only from 5:30 to 6:00pm and at 5:45pm, we were still at Peddar Road, stuck in a terrible jam. Our cab driver suggested we take Bhulabhai Desai Road but it was equally packed. It was 5:55pm and we were still around a kilometre from VFS when one of M's friends informed that the counter was probably closing! This sent M into a panicky, tense and almost-hysterical mood (something I have never seen before from her!). The cab dropped us at 5:58pm, we ran across the road, gave our bags to some of M's friends waiting there, ran downstairs to the VFS Office, had our documents photocopied and collected our passports just when they were about to shut down all counters! Success at last! What an amazing race against time!

For me the last part of the adventure was the ride back home- since I had all my original documents with me, instead of braving the peak-hour locals, I decided to take the BEST's AC bus. I boarded AS-4 at 6:25pm from Haji Ali and 2.5 hours later, using three different modes of transport and spending Rs 65, I eventually reached home only at 9:00pm, beaming with joy, proudly carrying in my hands the passport with the shiny bright US F-1 Visa stamped on it!

Monday, June 15, 2009


Genre: Life

Off late I have been in hibernation mode, coming out only once a month or so to post. This apparently has my well-wishers worried and as a result, I have been bombarded by quite a few of them with all sorts of Tags that I am expected to fill out. With nothing much else to do, I've decided to fill out a really long one! Here we go-

1. Last beverage
Ice-cold water. The best way to beat the sweltering Mumbai heat

2. Last phone call

Incoming: Citibank- "Sir, we can offer you a free credit card blah blah..."

3. Last text message

Vodafone- "Your bill is overdue. Please pay immediately. Ignore if already paid. "

4. Last song you listened to

Arziyaan from Delhi 6. In love with it off late

5. Last time you cried
Yesterday while bidding adieu to college friends after the last trip :(


6.Dated someone twice?
No such luck yet

7. Been cheated on?

8. Cried yourself to sleep?
Once upon a time

9. Lost someone special?
If "lost" refers to death, thankfully No! "Lost contact", yes!

10. Been depressed?

11. Seen ghosts
Yes. On TV

Blue, White, Red


15.Made new friends
Yes, a lot of them.

16. Fallen out of love


17. Laughed until you cried

Yeah... on the Kerala and Uttaranchal trips!

18. Met someone who changed you


19. Found out who your true friends were

Yes! Very much!

20. Found out someone was talking about you

Surprisingly, yes!

21. Kissed anyone on your friend’s list


22. How many people on your friends list do you know in real life ?
50% I guess

23. How many kids do you want to have
One. Small family, Happy family

24. Do you have any pets
No, unless you count the fat rodent that refuses to leave my home

25. Do you want to change your name

26. What did you do for your last birthday
Met up three of my most special friends and had a small dinner party with family

27. What time did you wake up today
07:55am- by the deafening horn of Rajdhani Express as it sped past my house!

28. What were you doing at midnight last night
Sleeping, what else?

29. Name something you CANNOT wait for
Shift base from Mumbai, India to Blacksburg, USA

30. Last time you saw your father
Today morning

31. What is one thing you wish you could change about your life
Too many to jot down

32. What are you listening to right now
The fan inside my CPU humming loudly

33. Have you ever talked to a person named Tom
Yes. He was with his friend named Jerry.

34. What’s getting on your nerves right now?
My MTNL net connection. Getting disconnected every ten minutes!

36. Whats your real name
The same as my imaginary name

37. Relationship Status
Single and Happy, though open to getting committed if I find that special someone

38. Zodiac sign

39. Male or female

40. Natural Hair color?

41. Hair color now

42. Pet Peeve

43. Need Glasses

44. Long or short
Long.. for most of the things that can be categorized into these two

45. Height
Almost six feet

46. Do you have a crush on someone
Yes. More than one at present.

47. What do you like about yourself?
My knack of paying attention to minutest of details

48. Piercings
Naah. I like my body as it is.

49. Tattoos
A few times in childhood- the blue and pink colored ones that I got free with chewing gum!

50. Righty or lefty


51. First surgery
None yet. Touchwood!

52. First piercing
See #48

53. First tattoo
See #49.

54. First best friend

55. First sport you joined

56. First pet
A pair of pigeons making my room their maternity home

57. First vacation
Valsad, my hometown!

59. First crush
A certain girl at school when I was in third standard!

60. First alcoholic drink
Benadryl Cough Syrup


61. Eating
Cadbury Dairy Milk

62. Wearing
White tee and track pants- my uniform when relaxing at home

63. I’m about to
shut down the pc

64. Speaking to

65. Waiting to
have food... can smell Palak Paneer being made in the kitchen

66. Want kids?
No. There's still time for it.

67. Want to get married?
No. There's still time for it.

68. Careers in mind?
Professional Photographer at Nat Geo


69. Lips or eyes

70. Hugs or kisses
Both, depending on the situation

71. Shorter or taller
A little shorter or same height

72. Older or Younger

73. Romantic or spontaneous

74. Nice stomach or nice arms
Nice hair

75. Tattoos or piercings
Actually none but since most Indian girls have atleast one piercing, will go for that

76. Sensitive or loud
Sensitive and a little loud

77. Hook-up or relationship

78. Trouble maker or hesitant
Hesitant trouble-maker


79. Kissed a stranger

80. Drank hard liquor

81. Lost glasses/contacts

82. Sex on first date
No! I am not that despo!

83. Broken someone’s heart
Maybe yes, though intentionally, never!

84. Had your own heartbroken

85. Been arrested?
Yes- while playing Road Rash!

86. Turned someone down
Never had to face that situation so far

87. Cried when someone died

88. Got someone into trouble intentionally


89. Yourself
Very much

90. Miracles
Sometimes, though I prefer calling it Destiny

91. Love at first sight

92. Heaven

93. Santa Claus

94. Kissing on the first date?

95. Angels
Yes! I have three in my real life!


96. Is there one person you want to be with right now?

97. Had more than one boyfriend/ girlfriend at one time?

98. Do you believe it’s possible to remain faithful forever?

99. What’s the one thing you cannot live without?
My parents and best friends

100. Posting this as 100 truths?
Gita pe haath rakhke kasam khaata but then I would be charged for misbehaving with a woman!

An open invitation to everyone- if you find this Tag interesting, please go ahead and answer all these questions on your blog and leave a link to it here or answer them in the Comments area of my blog if you do not have your own blog. Go ahead, enjoy!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Jai Ho!

Genre: Current Affairs

A lot has been said and heard about how the politicians in India are lazy, indifferent and out-of-sync with the real world and the issues that bother the Common Man. However, very few of them are 'smart' (read: stupid) enough to publicly demonstrate these qualities. Fortunately, it seems I have found one such sample-

The newly-elected MP from my constituency- Mr. Sanjay Nirupam, in his first interview to The Times of India after winning from Mumbai North quotes- "My first priority now is quadrupling of Borivali-Virar railway tracks which has been the long standing demand of 18 lakh commuters."

Just to let you know Mr. Nirupam, the Borivali-Virar Quadrupling Project has already been completed more than two years ago! Itne saal so rahe the kya? Jaago Re!

Thank You for letting us know how "informed" neta we guys have chosen to represent us for the next five years! I am feeling glad I did not waste my valuable vote on you.

Jai Ho!

P.S.: It seems our "techno-savvy" netaji writes a Blog too! See it here. No prizes for guessing who actually posts on it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Monsters That Prowl VJTI

Genre: Humour

Disclaimer: All creatures mentioned herein are purely fictitious and any resemblance to any dinosaur- living, dead or otherwise is purely coincidental.

It is a well known fact that it is a jungle out there in VJTI but very little is known to the outside world about the mysterious creatures that prowl the place. Here is a scientific lowdown on some of the species unique to the VJTI Jungle-

Billasaurus Linguica

One of the most documented creature of the region, it has a peculiar trait of communicating in a language which is difficult to comprehend for creatures of other species and is known to express itself with phrases like "Once Gones The Gones" and "Both of you Three Get Out!"

Deolekasaurus Corpulentii
This heavy creature once used to dominate over the helpless creatures of Studenticus Firstyearisis species but is now extinct. Fossil records show that this creature made many Studenticii wait outside its den for long periods of time for a process known as Vivasis.

Daruwalus Geniusii
This creature was born with an exceptionally high IQ which allowed it to prove his dominance over all other creatures; however, it has a great dislike for Rattus rattus. Due to spending most of its time in the extremely cold climate inside Mup Laboratarica, it has developed a mutation which causes it to sometimes behave in a very unnatural manner and perform amusing tasks like pointing a remote control at a blank screen in an attempt to turn it on.

Sulbhasaurus Giganticus
Probably the most gigantic creature ever known to reside in this forest, Sulbhasaurus suffers from a rare genetic disorder known as LCLO (Lengthy Continous Lecture Obsession) which makes it difficult for it to stop once it starts talking and is known to make irritating shrill sounds to scare away Studenticus.

Rathodosaurus Bevdapii
Living on a staple diet of alcohol, this creature resides in a secluded dark corner of Electrical Laboratorica and is known to come out in the open very rarely mainly because of its inability to walk straight and speak clearly.

Narayankhedosaurus Innovacus
Little is known about the daily chores and routine of this extremely hard-to-see creature which is believed to reside in one exceptionally huge den and use an expensive Innova to travel.

Lokegaonsaurus Procastinatus
Like all other creatures residing in Exam Departmentica, this creature is known to be sluggish and has developed the unique ability to hide itself from other creatures, especially Studenticus. Its language consists of limited vocubalary which is a characteristic trait of Exam Departmentica and includes phrases like "Udyaa Yaa!" and "Chaar baje ke baad".

Charlisaurus Nonchalantii
This creature was once known to be possessing an absolute lack of reaction to stimuli, not showing any response even when objects were physically hurled at it. The reason for this is still unknown. This creatue has not been spotted since a long time and many assume it to be extinct.

Satishosaurus Eccentripus
It has been postulated that this creature is the missing link between Rathodosaurus and Devlekosaurus; however no scientist so far has been able to ascertain the reason behind the eccentric behaviour displayed by this creature which includes comparing Computer Programming to selling a ball pen among other things.

Amuthosaurus Disciplinicus
Closely related to Shardasaurus in behaviour, this creature is known to dish out long lectures on the need for discipline whenever possible. It has also been noticed that it insists on having the entire corridor empty for it when it wants to take a walk and anyone found coming in its way is subjected to a long verbal torture.

Besides these, several other creatures like Rapasaurus, Bhosalosaurus, Patilosaurus, Sarvadosaurus are known to exist in remote corners of the forest and efforts are on to retrieve substantial data about their behavioural patterns.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

C 08:08 12 F

Genre: Mumbai

C 08:08 12 F

This glowing sign greets me every morning as I enter the crowded precincts of Malad station. As I make my way to Platform 4 crawling in a sea of humanity on the Foot-Over Bridge, the Firozpur "Bullock Cart" Express invariably passes from below. Making my way through the hordes of office-going ladies occupying the front end of the platform, I reach my pre-designated place. Between the two pillars painted red-and-yellow signifying the First Class coach, there is a point where the digits "74" are marked on the track (I don't know why). This is the exact position that I have assigned myself. The indicator shows it is still five minutes to go. Slowly the crowd keeps on building and all around me I can see familiar faces turning up, all sincerely occupying the same position everyday. Suddenly someone shouts- "Peeche ho jaao!" (Move back!). With a ear-deafening hoot of horn, a Virar-Churchgate Fast local speeds past at merely two feet from where I am standing at the edge of the platform, the hooligans hanging at the door screaming like mad. On the opposite platform, a gentleman popularly known as "Signal Kaka" keeps a lookout for the incoming train. The moment he spots it, he jumps across to our side, thereby signaling the arrival to the hundreds of others waiting eagerly. Suddenly there is frenzy all over the platform. The ones standing behind put an open question that anyone standing in the first row is free to answer- "Naya hai ki juna?" (Is it the new one or old one?). The answer will decide today's strategy. As the train slowly pulls into the platform, the "experts" standing in the first row signal with their hands to the motorman if he is pulling in too slow, too fast or just right. Finally, as the first door of the First Class coach comes near, I blindly jump in alongwith dozens of others, everyone pushing each other into the coach. Instinctively I turn left and deposit myself somewhere in the centre of the long seat meant for eight passengers. Within a few seconds, one after the other, men of all sizes come charging in, completely filling up the entire place. The unlucky ones who do not get a seat are now assigned the job of neatly arranging everyone's bags onto the Luggage Rack above. However, the most unlucky ones are the "oversmart" passengers who board the train from Kandivali yard itself hoping to get a good seat- all of them are first politely asked to vacate the seats, failing which, subjected to choicest abuses, followed by a good thrashing and eventually pushed out of the coach!

As the train picks up speed, the eclectic mix of co-passengers which includes businessmen, traders, stock-brokers, lawyers, doctors (myself being the only student in the "gang") forget their professional duties for an hour and let loose the kid inside them- joking, fighting, pulling each other's legs and once a week even throwing in a treat of delicacies ranging from samosa to jalebi, distributed free to all passengers in the vicinity - making the journey in the super-dense packed crowd a lot more tolerable. As Bandra approaches, following the unwritten rule in existence since years, everyone who had "caught" a seat from Malad gives the seat to the ones standing earlier thereby ensuring everyone gets to sit for atleast half the journey. Finally, at Dadar, I get off alongwith a majority of the crowd in the coach as the train speeds off towards Churchgate.

This has been my daily routine for the past four years. It sounds mechanical, it is executed to clockwork perfection every day yet there is a hidden emotion, a feeling of belongingness, an attachment behind this exercise that makes me teary-eyed as I get off at Dadar today for THE LAST TIME from the 08:08 am Malad-Churchgate 12-Coach Fast.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Faces That Make Me Smile...

Genre: College Life

When I joined VJTI, I was made to believe that this is a place where girls are Endangered Species and you should be lucky to spot one, leave aside making friends with any! But how wrong they were! Today at the end of my four years of VJTI, when I look back, I cannot help but acknowledge the role played by these lovely ladies in making me the person that I am today-

Mona: When I met this girl for the first time, I had never thought we would be friends- and this has been the most classic example of how wrong first impressions can be! Today, for me, Mona is not just a friend; she is much more than that- it would not be an over-statement if I say that today there is probably no girl in my life who understands me, cares for me, stands by me during the tough times and happily obliges to be my partner-in-crime in the good ones better than she does. Beyond the VJTI-connection, today she is an inseparable part of my life- exactly how a Best Friend should be.

Annie: A little crazy, a little kiddish, but very caring and friendly- that's Annie! A friend since my very early days at VJTI, over the four years, our friendship has only grown stronger by the day. Today, she is one girl whom I can turn to whenever I feel lonely and with whom I can talk about anything under the sun! We have fought, we have quarreled, we have had differences of opinions but at the end of the day, one thing I know for sure- I'm always gonna be there for her 'coz she has been there for me. Always!

Varu: The first girl whom I knew at VJTI, my friendship with this girl has been one helluva roller-coaster ride. From being tagged as my "girlfriend" by some overzealous minds in the first sem to being the girl whom I can confidently confide in, we have come a long way. From the long walks during Ramkumar's Classes to bunking Byju's Classes and spending a long time at the Kapol Niwas bus stop discussing our past, present and future, the four years with her has given me myriad memories which are here to stay for a long time, just like our friendship.

Sari: Met her completely by chance, thanks to the Shimla trip of Wizards, she is one 'senior' who has been a dear friend of mine without throwing any tantrums about her being my "senior"! The days that I have spent with her are surely gonna be memorable- for the crazy things that we have done together! Inspite of having some nasty arguments over tiny matters, inspite of her being out of VJTI, she has not forgotten me and nor will I forget her, or our friendship.

Esha: Another "senior" who looked upon me as a buddy rather than a "junior", she was the one who was instrumental in getting me my first Organiser's duty during Technovanza as well as getting me into the Nirmaan team which eventually led to my appointment as the Nirmaan Editor. Not restricting her interaction to just professional stuff (considering that I was always working under her) she has been a friend who stays in touch even today in spite of her not being at VJTI.

Namrata: The first thing I knew about this girl is that we share our birthday (though not the birth-year)! The next thing I knew was her immense love for cricket- a common passion that has been instrumental in making her the friend that she is today. Smart, intelligent (after all, not everyone gets to go to Microsoft for interns), caring and fun-loving, she is my sms-buddy who always takes the efforts to stay in touch in spite of us hardly meeting each other in person, and this is precisely the reason I am sure our friendship will continue way beyond VJTI.

Natasha: Hard-working, diligent, intelligent and with an impeccable dressing sense, she is probably the chirpiest girl I have met at VJTI. Though she has hardly any time for anything else besides her academic commitments while she is at college, thanks to her well-planned out schedules, she does ensure we regularly meet, so what if it's just for brief chats, and stay in touch and that is what sets her apart from the other girls.

There are a few other girls too who have been an important part of my four years at VJTI, but I shall stop here due to time and space constraints. The contribution of all these girls in making my four years at VJTI memorable and enjoyable is simply phenomenal! Love you all for being with me, for me, forever!
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