Friday, February 25, 2011

Sometimes it just gets too late. R.I.P. Uncle Pai

I am sure most of you who are reading this wouldn’t know who this person is that I am referring to as ‘Uncle Pai’. To all of them I would suggest, try a Google Search, you will find the answer. After you get the answer if you ask me why an 81 year old who died of a massive heart attack yesterday evening and who I have never even met, mattered to me, then probably I need to answer that.

I have been a reader of the children’s comics ‘Tinkle’ since I was in kindergarten and am proud to say that I have each and every published issue of the magazine since 1997 till date. Mr Anant Pai was the founding editor of the comics which has been now in the print for more than 30 years. Mr Pai, popularly addressed as ‘Uncle Pai’ by children all over the country used to write back to the children who wrote letters to him. I am proud to say that I still have the letters that he wrote to me in his own handwriting. I can’t recall exactly, but there is one letter which I must have got in 1998-1999 in which my entry for a Tinkle column had not been accepted. He had written to me, an 8 or 9 year old then, explaining why it could not be accepted. I still have that letter with me.

I continued remaining a regular reader of Tinkle and in September 2004, I, along with some friends of mine, started a children’s club in my colony named ‘Jagriti Amar-Tinkle Club’ which was founded under the banner of India Book House Pvt Ltd (the publishing company chaired by Uncle Pai). Throughout the 3 years for which my club ran successfully, Uncle Pai acted as a mentor for our club’s successful running. He personally wrote to us many times praising our club’s activities and endeavours, which included organising of various competitions, annual day celebrations, sports meets, picnics and parties etc., all by a group of a dozen children in the age group of 8 to 14 years.

Even after the club dissolved, and he stepped down as the editor of Tinkle in 2007, I was in personal touch with him till 2 years back. I used to let him know what was going on in my life- my studies and future plans. He always wrote back to me either via an e-mail or a letter. He had addressed school children in Bhubaneswar on children’s day in 2007 and I had got to know about it a day late. I couldn’t meet him although my grandfather saw him. After that, I had expressed a strong desire to meet Uncle Pai if I went to Mumbai some time.

This is one of the last letters I got from Uncle Pai back in April 2008:

Dear Antarik,
This is in reply to your letter which I've received after nearly two years.
Since you used to write to me in 2005-2006, I clearly remember you. Do not feel unhappy that you have been unable to achieve much.
As for not being the editor of Tinkle, it's due to old age. But I'm still in office as a consultant editor.
I am giving below a quotation from Edward Everett Hale:
"I am only one,* But I am one.* What I can do,* I ought to do.* And what I ought to do,* By the grace of God, I shall."*
Antarik, I have always been with you and will always remain with you.
With lots of love and best wishes,
Affectionately yours, Uncle Pai

I don’t know if this was a coincidence or something else, but just 3-4 days back I was going through my old emails and on seeing mails to Uncle Pai I had thought its been a long time since I wrote to him. He surely remembers me. I should write to him. Due to some work I had postponed my letter to be written later. Well, I guess, some delays are unacceptable. Some delays can be delayed forever.

Today morning while sitting in class, I opened today’s Times of India and was just scanning through the front-page when the anchor story caught my eyes and I was left shocked and bereft of words. The headline of the 2 column short news story read: “Uncle Pai dead, but his Amar Katha lives on” and was accompanied by a picture of the deceased visionary.

For most of us probably this news wouldn’t have mattered much. Owing to the fact that it was featured as the anchor story, many serious news readers would prefer ignoring the news story in this space. But for me this was something not at all easy to accept and digest. I just couldn’t control my emotions at the moment and preferred continuing reading the whole of the paper at that time which probably I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I was regretting the fact that I hadn’t written the email to him 3 days back. Probably he might not have had time to reply to it so soon, but at least on reading it he would have smiled at the fact that I still remembered to write to him. But I didn’t.

Some times it just gets too late.

I would never be able to thank you for all the support you provided to me. You will always be missed.

Rest In Peace Uncle Pai. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Life after cell phone confiscation!

Today after almost one whole year I am facing a situation when I do not have my cell phone with me. If I am saying this then you must be wondering what was the situation a year back. Well, for those of you who are unaware of my DPS VK days, let me inform you that while I was in the hostel there I used to be one of the “obedient” boarders who used to follow the rules strictly- submit the phone to the warden and get it only on the prescribed days and not carry a second ‘latent’ cell phone with me. So at that time I was used to the situation when I used to have my phone only on Tuesdays and Fridays (and sometimes luckily on Saturdays as well, if the warden forgot to collect our phones [:)] ) and that was a time when I could say I can live without a phone. I was not addicted to my cell phone!!

Today, due to an unexpected stupidity and after a healthy joke, my dear cell phone was confiscated at college and for some reason I felt I should let it remain confiscated for some time. It might have been sheer stupidity but for four hours I went completely out of touch from the world and by the time I woke up (yes, I was sleeping) it was now time to actually appreciate and analyse the effect the cell phones have had on us.

In the last few hours, many good and bad realizations have popped up in my mind. I am sure you wouldn’t mind if I share them here with you. Would you? Try imagining these situations…

Some disappointments:
  • You put your hands into your jeans pockets with the hope of getting your phone out and checking if there is any new text that you might have missed, but as soon as you put your hands inside, the realization dawns that you do not have the device with you! Disappointing, is it??
  • Normally when you are out somewhere with a friend and your friend is busy on his/her phone either texting or talking to someone, you while away your time by taking your phone out and just browsing through the menus or the inbox. You want to ‘show’ your friend that he/she is not the only one who can be busy.  But when you do not have a phone, then what do you do? Silently sit idle??  
  • You are alone and there is no one near you who you can talk to. You type a “Hi…” in your phone and send it to some friends and await their replies. Surely you are not the only one who has nothing to do. Surely you are not the only one who is lonely and wants to kill some time. Surely you are not the only one who needs someone to talk to. So you get a reply from at least some. And you are actually able to kill some time and you don’t even realize it. But what if you do not have that device called the cell phone?? What would you do? Just sit silently alone?

Some happy faces:
  • You do not have the device due to which people get disturbed when you send them a message or call them up when they are in an important meeting with someone. Thanks to you not having that weapon of disturbance, someone somewhere didn’t get disturbed due to you.
  • You constantly get messages from that one person who keeps on sending you messages, irritates you to a level that you start ignoring messages from that person and leave them unread, and when you do not have your cell phone, well, ‘karle kitne message karega, mai to nahi padhne wala’!! 
  • It is not you but your friend who due to some non-untoward incident is not having his/her phone. You will smile and think ‘at least a day came when I am gaining more importance than your phone gets from you every time’! :)
  • And of course, when you sleep you would not be disturbed by your phone’s vibrations due to any untimely texts or incoming calls; in other words, you can sleep peacefully for as long as you want. Hehe…

If you have the guts then I dare you to accept this challenge: Try living one day without your cell phone and then you will realize how much importance that small device has in your life!! :)

It’s been just 7-8 hours now since when I don’t have my phone and I won’t be having it for another 10 hours at least and I am really happy at the fact that my phone hasn’t gained more importance in my life than humans around me. I can’t live without talking to real people with direct eye contact but I can live without my phone; I can live without talking to virtual-people or texting on my phone! Can you?

P.S.: I have so much work to do which are actually so much more important than this blog writing of mine, but still I am writing this blog just because I want to and I’m lovin’ it!!

P.S.: And today I can’t even message my readers to update them that I have an update on my blog because my phone has been confiscated!! Well, a message will come to you, but some hours late!! Hehe…:)

Friday, February 18, 2011

"Why do you write blogs?"

This seemingly easy to answer question was put up to me by my best friend just a few minutes back. Well, he asked it in the general sense that why I dont do anything else to pass my time, why do I only write blogs. I did have an answer to his questions, but didn’t give one. The reason? This very evening while I was covering a long lonely distance in the metro I was thinking of writing a blog entry on this very topic- why I write blogs!

I had just updated my facebook status to “Why do I write blogs?” And people did answer it by giving wonderful replies like “because you are vella”, “Because you like to flaunt”, “for time-passing” etc. One of my friends even mentioned that it was a good platform to get to know me, which was otherwise not easy!!

Having already thought of this topic for nearly 45 minutes in the metro, I now have some points which I am going to bullet below that would tell you why I actually write blogs. Do let me know if you are surprised by any of the points mentioned. And I bet you are going to find these super-boring except may be the reason mentioned in number ummm….you decide that!!

Reason number 1: My blog writing started when I saw Big B’s blog for the first time in May 2008. I wondered if it was possible that so many people from around the world would be interested in knowing what was going on in my life if I write a blog for myself. Well, that was the fascination that prompted me to start this blog writing which has improved my writing skills tremendously in the last 3 years.

Reason number 2: I love writing and probably this is one of my strongest points. So when I started writing on this blog, I always had the urge to write something more interesting for the next time. And so my love for writing grew and my blog grew in popularity.

Reason number 3: I like it when people appreciate what I write. Some time back I had actually grown into the habit of writing a new blog entry just so that people would read it and appreciate it. I had started making my blog ‘commercial’, that’s how a good friend of mine termed it!

Reason number 4: I like the fact that I write blogs. One of my most respected teachers at college recently pointed out to me that a piece of writing I had done wasn’t as good as he expected from me. He said that it didn’t have the essence and ‘life’ in it as is normally the case in my blog entries. He said what I wrote in my blog appeared more like coming directly from my heart and so was more interesting to read.

Reason number 5: My work doesn’t go in vain. For the first time after almost two years I got appreciation from people for my blog writing. Suddenly I was surrounded by people who valued my interest and didn’t term my interest as mere ‘time wastage’. That was the transition from the scientific bend of mind to the artistic way of life.

Reason number 6: I write blogs when I have nothing to do or when I feel deeply about something. When I have nothing to do, blog writing is a nice way to pass my time. And I am able to write successful blog entries only when I am deeply fascinated by something I observe or something that affects me.

Reason number 7: Probably the most important reason why I write blogs comes now. It helps me to change my thought process. By this I mean that by writing blog entries, I try to divert my mind to something else when it is deeply disturbed. It helps me in catharsis as was evident in one of my very recent entries. It gives me the feeling that I am interacting with so many people (my readers) when actually I am seating alone physically somewhere. And so after keeping my mind involved for some time in my blog, I feel better. (That surely doesn’t mean that if I say I am writing a blog entry, it would mean that I am feeling lonely!! Hehe…)

These were the top seven reasons as to why the hell in the world I chose to write blogs for a pastime! I hope now I won’t be asked this question again, because then the person who poses the question will have to listen at least ‘seven’ good reasons for an answer! Hehe…

I hope you had a good time in reading this ‘super boring’ blog entry. I seriously didn’t know I would have so many reasons to tell you why I loved to write blogs!! This actually tells that this blog is making me think imaginatively! Hehe…:)

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Fourteenth Day of February

After my previous overly-emotional kind of an entry I thought a refreshing and rejuvenating entry had to come about and with today’s significance in most of ours’ lives, I thought writing something about today won’t be a bad idea after all!

Today, the fourteenth of February- that’s probably one day which almost all of us recognize at first sight itself- the Valentine’s Day. Well, I don’t think any of my readers would like an explanation of what this day is, as I am sure all of us know all about this day, isn’t it guys? So I think I would put forth my experiences and views about this day in the coming few paragraphs. Seriously, 19 years of life has given me enough experience for that! Hehe…

Before three years, when I was at Sambalpur, surely Valentine’s Day was known to all but it was a hush-hush affair everywhere there. After I came to Delhi and stayed in a hostel for two years, I had had enough experience in regards to this “lovers’ day”! It was here that I actually got to understand the importance of this day- the fourteenth of February- wow! Almost a month before the D-day, my friends had their plans on about what ‘special’ they were going to do on this ‘special’ day for their ‘special’ someone. And the amount of planning, discussions, debates and thought-processes that went into it was just ummm…..HUGE!!! Seriously, I never thought before this that the day called the fourteenth of February was soooooooooo important. Amazing!!

It is for the first time this year that I am actually seeing the V-Day Delhi, in fact, the V-Day atmosphere everywhere. Starting right from my friends and faculty, to the flower sellers and the gift shops, the fourteenth of February is not an unknown day for anyone. I wonder what the statistics say about the popularity of this day. Surely, it’s more than even New Years Day, don’t you think so? The rates of a single red rose can go up from Rs. 10 to Rs. 30 on this day- that’s a 300% increment in the Selling Price. And of course, even at such levels of inflation, the demand is not met satisfactorily. It is actually difficult to find a flower vendor with fresh red roses today. Reason? Every single piece sold out!

Now if I move on to thinking about the day, I am actually amazed at how we all perceive this V-Day! Questions like “Who is your valentine?” and “What are your plans for today with him/her?” are not at all uncommon. So are questions like “Are you still single?” and “Any plans of a valentine ever?” Well the concept of Valentines Day has gone through a lot of water already. (In reference to facebook terminology,) Those of us who are “committed” or are “in a relationship” are the usual romantic lovers who have long plans for this D-day- the fourteenth of February, and the ones who are “single” or whose relationship status is “it’s complicated”, well for them- it’s complicated. Surely, Valentine’s Day is surely not meant for just lovers! And even if it is, “lovers”, may not mean just the romantic lovers! I am sure it can include everyone who cares for us- our parents, brothers, sisters, best friends, the loving neighbours, the no-blood-relation-sharing siblings or in fact anyone else we care to think about, isn’t it?

One important thing I had almost forgotten about is the loads and loads of SMSs that I have received all related to this fourteenth day of February. The first one I came across was the February 14th Dress Code. Seriously, before reading that message, I had no idea that if you were wearing black it meant that you were not interested in love, if you were wearing red, you were committed to someone and if you were wearing blue, you were welcoming prospective applications! Wow! Another one gave the importance of each day of the week before the fourteenth day of February. Rose Day, Teddy Day, Hug Day, Kiss Day…great! But the one message that I was completely fascinated was the one which showed the importance of the days after the fourteenth. One version of the message said that on 15th you are supposed to celebrate Slap Day and 21st is supposed to be Break-up Day. I mean, this is like- wow! Don’t you think so?? Hahaha….

Whatever may be said, this historical day- the fourteenth of February- has surely gained high prominence in the lives of the modern youth and surely this is one day we all can look forward to in the calendar and plan our next Valentine’s Day. Are we going to enjoy our time by looking at the so-many couples all round the place or are we going to be one of them ourselves?? Hehe…keep looking for the answer!

Awaiting your valued comments. Do let me know how you celebrated this V-Day and what are your expectations and hopes for the next year and the years after that!

Till then (and after that as well), may Cupid bestow his love on all of us! And yes, wish you a very happy and enjoyable Valentine's Day! :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Great Expectations

Yes, that’s the name of the novel by Charles Dickens which I haven’t read but thought this could be one suitable title to my new blog entry. This time somehow I don’t have a double meaning attached to the title. Well, to all those who have been reading my blog regularly, I am sure something like this comes as unexpected from me because I have never ever written anything that has got to do anything with serious catharsis. Right? And of course I am going to relate things to myself while writing this, as factual and objective writing is something I have always found difficult to do and have seldom succeeded! Hehe…

Now, I need to begin somewhere…

Right from the day we are born, we have high levels of expectations from people around us who matter to us. When I was born, being the first member in the new generation in both my maternal and paternal families, everyone showered their love and blessings on me. I was always the one to get the maximum attention from everyone at home. I grew up. I never had any good friends nor did I expect anyone to call me their best friend, as I never felt the need to. I was happy with myself, content.

Three years back I stepped out of home. I moved to a new place. I met a variety of people, people who were different in a lot of ways from each other, from others I knew and from me. I started learning to make friends. I started enjoying my life in new ways. I was no longer confined to the nutshell called ‘me’. The thing I used to consider as just hindi-movie rubbish, gave a first person experience to me- I had fallen in love. Not with a thing, experience, or stuff but with a real human being…

The dictionary software loaded in my laptop defines the word ‘Expectation’ as ‘Anticipating something to happen (or make a mental picture of something) with confidence of fulfilment’. Expectation comes into the picture everywhere. Many people who I matter to, have high expectations from me. Some expect me to do well in my studies and focus on my career and be successful, some expect me to be the friend who they can share everything with, some expect me to help them out when they are in trouble, some expect me to just remain happy always and some expect ‘nothing’.

I am a normal human (do you doubt it??) and like everyone else even I have expectations from many aspects of my life. Some are small and normal expectations. Some are big and great expectations. I expect a lot of things in my everyday life. I expect my family to support me. I expect my teachers to help me out whenever I need them. I expect my friends to add a hue of laughter to make the days enjoyable. I expect my best friend to be interested in knowing what I feel about everything that happens with me. I expect my phone to ring and I expect the caller id to belong to some one who is special to me. I expect to hug the one who matters to me the most on Hug Day. I expect people to understand me and my situation. I expect empathy. There is a lot more I expect. And obviously, all my expectations do not get fulfilled. I have high confidence in their fulfillment and when they do not get fulfilled I do get depressed. Being the highly emotional kind of a person, I am sometimes not at all able to control my senses and if I do not get the expected understanding from the one I expect, I get frustrated. Probably this is not something exclusive to me; the teenage period is full of such high levels of melodramas in all people.

There was a time, not long back, when I had desperately wanted to have someone who would care for me more than anything else, love me more than anyone else (and here by ‘love’ I mean love in its romantic sense) and God did listen to this request of mine unexpectedly soon, but thanks to all the circumstances that I was facing then, I had to do many things I wouldn’t have otherwise done. What I was making someone else feel (someone who was special to me), I was suddenly able to fully understand because I could now step into the shoes of that ‘someone special’ and know exactly what they felt when I expected too much from them. I never wanted to hurt them, in fact I always aimed at keeping them happy, but in due course of time, wrong things and wrong situations did come up which I had no strength to face and ended up having Great Expectations.

It’s been almost an hour and a half now since I have been sitting alone and writing this entry and I won’t deny the fact that I am desperately waiting for a phone call right now. A phone call which I know would be able to cheer me up. But again, the same thing comes up: expectation. And surely that’s wrong.

I have no idea why I suddenly chose to write on this topic. If someone asks me what’s wrong with me, I am not going to tell them anything and that is for sure. Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind, don’t matter- surely that’s what is happening right now! And I am sad to be ending a blog entry of mine at a sad note for the first time ever.
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