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Mithaiwalah Khan

Faiz Mohammed Khan who worked for the native jewellery industry,  restlessly waited outside Dr Murtaza’s clinic located in the district of Mehasana, Gujarat. This was India in the late 80’s with a closed economy. The Sun was unusually glaring as if challenging the already arrived Rain Gods. To much of Rahim Paanwalah’s monetary amusement, Khan by now had consumed 20 Gold Flakes, a brand he otherwise avoided. Today, it din’t seem to matter much, for his wife Begum was in the Maternity ward of the small clinic. Begum had successfully delivered a baby boy who they named after the Sun. Indian families can get very dramatic you see. They thought the Sun had unexpectedly arrived to bless their offspring. They decided to call him Aftaab. This story is not about Faiz, Begum, Rahim or the Gold Flakes. It is about Aftaab.

Unlike most protagonists, our Aftaab is no soul of gifted significance. Aftaab was a healthy Muslim lad who often savoured his Ammi  jaan’s Mutton Biryani  and had no exceptional mental capabilities to his claim. However, it his mystical tryst with Mithais (Read :Sweets) that earns him this story. Aftaab had an intense love for Mithais but for an inexplicable reason, had a strong dislike for its consumption. Yes, he felt strongly for Mithais but never ate them.

When gifted a box of exquisite local Mithais  by visiting relatives, Aftaab often opened the box with great fervour, inhaled the stimulating aroma ,observed the units within as a Goldsmith minutely observed his gold. Then to much of everyone’s bafflement, simply discarded the Mithais . Without even remote traces of consumption. This ritual got Faiz and Begum sufficient social embarrassment and almost earned our Aftaab the unfitting status of a retard. Faiz’s school teacher Nazia ma’am, was a young lady with quintessential Muslim beauty. She was no alien to Aftaab’s peculiar behaviour. When the school once distributed free sweets to all its studying minors, Aftaab remained the only soul to have not accepted this benevolent surprise that otherwise caused much happiness to the other kids.

Nazia called for The Khans and in a candid conversation that ensued, suggested a possible remedy. Nazia’s husband worked in the Middle-east and was soon visiting his charming wife. Nazia had ordered for the most dainty sweets from abroad in strong hope of enticing Aftaab and with this move, they almost tasted success. Aftaab on being subjected to this foreign treat expressed boundless joy. This time around, there were 2 additions to the usual ritual: carefully scouring the sweet cover for details known just to him and his usual discarding act was now replaced with him taking a bite of the chocolate bar. His eyes bulged to the coconut filling that contained within the outer cocoa covering. His countenance clearly expressed amusement and before the other participants of this story could declare glory, Aftaab caste away this unit too.

The Y2k virus had just attained global attention and a Sikh man had transformed the Indian economy by now. The Jamia Islamia School annually hosted a ‘Daawat‘ for the purpose of internal community building. This event required students to get specially prepared food items from home in sufficiently large quantities and make sure they served little of their offering to every other classmate. Aftaab’s Ammi Jaan was outstation to visit her ailing mother. Although Abba jaan could boast of decent culinary skills, he hardly had the time to cook such a demanding quantity. Aftaab barely seemed to complain. Daawat saw an absolutely scrumptious display of Indian Muslim cuisine. Khorma, Keema, Kababs and Biryanis were in handsome exhibition. The only suspicious item that graced every plate was a tiny brown ball of sweet which obviously appeared as some form of Chocolate. Clearing their anxiety, the students quickly took a bite and were delightfully surprised to a sweet coconut offering within.That day,  Aftaab’s Ammi jaan was blessed with countless brownie Karma points. Again,  Aftaab barely seemed to complain.

Aftaab loved making Mithais. Not having them. His folks don’t seem too pleased with this ambition as it is the local Hindu Baniya community that make Mithais and sells them. Not devout Muslims like them.

Nothing makes Aftaab happier than the thought of becoming a Mithaiwalah. He was last heard wanting to launch his brand of Chocolates.

Inshallah he find success and may this country have more Mithaiwalah Khans.

PS:Fiction is NOT my thing.  The only fiction I read is the Times of India headline. It is always fun to challenge oneself though. I am an exhausted man at the end of this challenge.


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Yesterday Morning’s Newspaper session filled me with utmost dejection.If one is of the opinion that Japan’s time of trial is the cause, one is mistaken.I am sure the country’s legendary resolve and ceaseless diligence can easily do without world sympathy.

A recent happening back in India and pertaining more specifically to my part of the world in the state of Maharashtra is a matter of grave concern and I believe requires immediate attention.

The Maharashtra State Board Examinations are around the corner.For those unaware, the Examinations are the 2nd biggest exercise in the state.The results for the same  being the biggest.The event which ideally should include just a single character in the appearing candidate, involves a whole lot of people ranging from the child’s parents and their aunts, the neighbour who’s child appeared for the very examination the year before and has been secretly conducting morning prayers to ensure their child’s score remains unbeaten, a distant sadistic cousin who hopes you score well and end up taking science and consequently Engineering just like he to his utmost regret did, the coaching class who can have your most embarrassing photograph put up on huge hoardings on the street claiming complete credit for your results and of course like everything Indian, politicians have their share of involvement too with political parties conducting felicitation programs much to the surprise and puzzlement of the little aware and innocent felicitated students.

Does the Board Examinations have any major holding on the soul’s future ? Certainly not.The Examination results are much a tool of social display and holding than anything else.Just like the Great Indian wedding.

The article that really triggered this entire post read that parents and teachers are coercing their kids to under-perform in the subject of Mathematics simply because scoring a perfect 100 will see the particular paper going through another round of correction called as the ‘Moderation’ wherein the candidate’s paper is strictly reviewed and cut down by a mark or two or perhaps a little more.

A 15 year old kid who perhaps at the existing stage of his life has to be given a strong lesson on work ethics and morals to take himself ahead independently is being asked to under-perform by the very people he perhaps idolizes the most.

Will I be surprised to find the kid embroiled in a 200000 crore scam ahead in his growing?Will I be surprised to find the Kid involved in a humiliating match-fixing scandal?

The Answer as obvious as the colour of my skin.

Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar has the greatest work ethics of his generation perhaps because he failed in his Board Examination.

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Hello Sir Rickshaw,


A very conscious attempt being made here to drop the middle class sobriquet ‘Walahs’ for reasons morethan certain.Just like the Sania-Shoaib wedding expenditure weighed a little lesser than the latter’scountry’s total economic worth, your fare hike makes me wonder if gold and real estate are the only things really worth investing on.*Gujrati part of South Indian brain glees at the business prospect ofRickshaw voucher now*Also your whimsical behaviour makes me draw comparisons here.And quite strangely the parallels I draw are from my own Engineering world.Do you know when you outright deny me a ride even at theremotest mention of the word ’Station’, I am very strangely reminded of my drawing teacher back inSemester 2 who very nonchalantly refused signing my journal a day before submissions until I re-drewjust about 3 drawing sheets all over again. And like every other resilient Mumbaikar/Engineer, I am/wasforced to accept my fate. Also, the expression that graces your face on me asking for a benevolent fullypaid lift to Powai is ‘MasterCard Priceless’. Simply because it gives me a fair idea of how I might haveappeared to the External faculty when he bade me farewell with a ‘See you again, next year’.

Talking about whims, your intellect also reminds me of another whimsical species, film celebreties.I amabsolutely awestruck when you retort with a smart ‘Traffic bahut hai’ when asked as to what stops youfrom leaving me home.Darling, you must realize that irrespective of the traffic, our parents expect ushome and the government dear classifies you as public transport, which means you are meant to helpmiddle class junta who cannot afford a vehicle (not to forget liquid gold they call Petrol) reach homewhere waiting parents/wives will speculate all day as to why their kid/Husbands reach home a nice 2hour 45 mins than it should ideally take.Here I am tempted to start writing another open letter to Aniluncle on his metro work.I will resist and not digress.

Sir Rickshaw, please return.This is your only chance.It is said by 2012, the city’s population will close todouble which means alomost all roads are to disappear from this city and they will only be people.All isforgotten.We will accept you with the Rakhi Sawant Poster on the backseat and also Mr Reshammiya’s music.

Adhitya Iyer.

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How the What.

In Engineering, a viva examination is an oral test wherein a candidate is supposed to showcase to 2 good men, his knowledge of the particular subject. Involved in the viva are two examiners and the candidate. One examiner is from the candidate’s own institute department  and the other is an external examiner from a different institute.

Happenings from a recently conducted Viva triggers this post and raises important questions about two other questions.Little patience from here will clear obscurity.

The internal examiner for this particular subject had been selectively sending pupils for a ‘re-viva’, which means, the candidate is sent back to spend additional time with his/her book and re-appear at the end of the day.The criteria for Re-viva NOT being the candidate’s knowledge of the subject but a complex Karma evaluation of the candidate which involves consideration of past instances of (mis) behaviour by the candidate.That the list of ‘mis’ behaviour includes finding digging one’s nose a far more consequential thing to do between lectures will be subject of another post.

Among the herd of fellow pupils, 2 specific souls caught my attention.2 souls who for me symbolize 2 very important attributes of our life.If we understand these 2 individuals, we understand the basic fundamentals of our actions both as individuals and as a nation.

While one bloke claimed that he did not mind being sent back a zillion times as long as he was assured of passing the exam, the other soul simply din’t want to go through a re-viva and was all arms for whatever the examiner offered in terms of his result.

For me these two mortals symbolize 2 eternal questions : The ‘What’ & The ‘How’.

While we see clear obsession with “What I want to achieve” with one, the other is clearly scrupulous about “How I achieve it”.For one all that matters is “What he attains”, for the other “How he attains” is of prime importance.

This certainly is not a “How vs What” debate if that is what you expect, for subjective thinking has completely drained off even the slightest of definitive judgement in me but if we look at things around us we find a natural propensity to the “What” more often than not.

“What do I have to conduct ?” :The Commonwealth games.”How” I conduct is immaterial.

“What do I have to attain ?” :A distinction score.”How” I attain it does not matter.

It is our clear obsession with “What” and the ignorance of the “How” that helps flourish corruption in this otherwise wonderful nation.

There are precisely 4 fields where we Indians put big emphasis on the “How” and quite surprisingly these four end up as India’s biggest 4 brands:

1-Bollywood:I had the privilege of attending ad legend Prasoon Joshi’s talk where he in reply to one of my silly questions said and I quote :

“If you look at our movies you will realize we are all about “How” and not the “What” like the west is.One can never expect a story from our movies.We showcase the same story over and over again but where we differ is the “How” ”

2-Cricket:Very often India’s victory or loss is not sole reason of celebration.A few questions one can immediately expect from any cricket bearing fellow after the obvious “India Jeeta Kya?” is “Sachin ne Kitna maara?” “Sehwag ka strike rate kitna tha?” “Bhajji ne kitna wicket liya?”.Our love for “How” we win or lose the match is clearly reflected in the above questions.

3-Religion:If Ganesh Chaturthi was just about paying respect to the Elephant lord Ganesha and not about “How” we expressed our reverence, Ganesh Chaturthi would never become one of the biggest assemblies of human celebration in the world.

4-Sex:1.2 billion mortals in one nation.I leave the description to the reader’s imagination.

Next time, do not forget to How the What.

I think this perfectly speaks for what I want to say.

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Me Ghanta Entrepreneur

Today has been a special day for:

1-I managed to carry not just the towel but also all other necessary garments to the bathroom before bathing  and not embarrassingly ask Amma for them just when I would need.

2-‘The Great Khali’ (If you notice, the man has a body of a Rhino and legs of a Chicken) entered the Big Boss house and gave Mr Salman Khan’s ego a puncture of his life.

3-It is not a Wednesday and I would not have to be subject of a certain female Professor’s words of disapproval.Also, I will take this opportunity and enlighten the reader about this very imaginative professor of mine.A very profound and dynamic lady of our time, I say. The woman has been dedicatedly teaching one book for 6 years now in the name of a subject which she very recently found out was called DSP/IP in short form (Just about another 10 years before she finds out the long form) .

4- I Hit Pranav ‘Pofama’ Rajgopal for 3 homeruns. Now when an Engineering student talks about scoring Goals, centuries or homeruns it is assumed that it can only be in a virtual environment for he renounces all forms of outdoor sports, happiness or joy very early in his life.

What makes it even more special is the fact that today is Dushera, the Hindu festival, and a very unusual one for me this time around. Tamil Brahmins generally conduct the Saraswati Poojai on the day of Dushera to pay respect to the Goddess of Knowledge.As a part of the ritual, we worship books of our choice and towards the end of it, are required to read an extract from the books we appropriately chose to worship.Now for all my initial growing I quite innocently chose my Science or Maths Textbooks not realizing the consequences of these subjects on my future.However to much of my Tamil mom’s surprise, a very unusual book made it to my choice this time around.

The book being her son’s idol, Sir Richard Branson’s Autobiography-Losing my Virginity which happens to be amongst the most celebrated entrepreneurial stories.I spent roughly about 90 seconds explaining her how the title had absolutely nothing to do with the content of the book and that I had no other book I could immediately get my hand on.Having accepted the tender mental health of her son, the doting mother conceded.

This was a despairing attempt from a want to be entrepreneur. I repeat, a want to be entrepreneur. Contrary to popular assumptions I am not an Entrepreneur yet and this I say with not even traces of modesty but with a lot of gumption.Amongst the various traits of an entrepreneur that I lack , the one that primarily makes me make the above judgement is the lack of self declaration.

The difference between a want to be Entrepreneur and an Entrepreneur is exactly that of between a boy who loves a girl and a boy who declares his love to the girl.

Entrepreneurship is a full time job.The day I decide to (And I wish the day comes very soon) take up the job in entirety, will I be comfortable being called that.Until then Mommy dear can live a happy life.

PS: The writer realizes that his writing skills have further degraded after the hiatus he is now unfortunately back from.He insists that his readers show little patience and continue reading this space.

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Khuda Hafiz.

Dear Mouse pad, Curtain, my 5 year old neighbor and all other readers of this space,

This blog is on an indefinite break.You can now heave a sigh of relief.5 year old kid now needs to search for other sources of Cadbury.

Thank you.Khuda Hafiz for now.

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