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Why I Love Clichés

It was a normal November evening, humid and hot, almost 10’0 clock as I walked to the exit of the office building I was sure I had missed the last bus for station had left and so I looked around and found that none of the government facilities of transportation(read taxi) were available. I walked down the alley, wondering when the rain gods are going to shower their blessings as the humidity became unbearable. Well I am not that a great believer of God but during that very minute it started pouring, pouring like cats and dogs. It was within seconds that I was drenched from head to toe, using this as an excuse I remembered my mother telling me that you should be always careful of what you ask for; one may not know when the lords might be listening. Now was exactly when I understood what she meant by that. Cursing the rain and appreciating the waterproofing of my bag, I reached the common bus stand of the area. I inquired about the next bus to Civil Lines; it was due in another thirty minutes.
I took shelter under the bus stop. Like all writers have a habit to brood over issues, I thought about myself, a 28 year old young man, in a city like Mumbai working at a publication house and all he has in his life are books. The idea didn’t sound that great. I think so much of thinking was happening because of the pouring rain. May be it was because after a long time I could hear my own voice in the chaos around me. Rain, a man and his life. Sounds like a cliché. Well clichés became clichés because we love them so much. As I pondered into my own dreams, I didn’t notice a young couple coming and taking shelter just like me. They weren’t really drenched, may be they listened to their mother more often than I did. The girl looked like a post-graduate or something and the guy had to be a year or older than me. It looked like a complete book written scene, a dark and stormy night. The alley lit by just a dim street light. Perfect setting for a murder by a stranger. My editor keeps on telling me to apply my work into my life. I guess it really has started happening.
If I were to really apply my work to my life in the present surroundings, I would go ahead with few of my favorites. If this where to be a scene by Mario Puzo, like a typical Godfather scene. The man could be from the Corleone family and the woman would be his wife. She would be dressed in a typical long skirt with stockings and a wail. Her aura would be of a good wife, a woman who believes that her husband commands her life and her sacrifices where nothing in front of his but she would be a woman equally strong. The man would look like a walking bull, wearing a nice tailored suit depicting the Italian touch to it. A man of power, authority and command, someone who believed in himself. As a black limousine pulls in the alley the man looks at his wife, smiles and she gives out a sigh of relief. They both know that life has given them another chance. They have escaped death yet again. They both in a hurry like breaking the silence before the storm, get into the car and as the car gears to move, there is a loud screeching of tires and another black car pulls in. Gunshots are fired from the following car. The air boomed with the noises of speeding cars, gunshots and yell from both the cars equally. Both cars leave the alley in a fraction of seconds. Leaving the alley like nothing really happened in there. The whole scene gives a feeling that the mafia world in the 1950’s was aloof of all the rules and regulations of the administrative system.

Or if this where to be a scene from PG Wodehouse, the man could be Barty Wooster dressed in a neat pair of trouser and fiddling with his bowtie. The woman could be his fiancée breaking up with him telling him, “This will not work. I will cherish these moments with you but you can act quite like a blockhead. Well you are a block head.” Being the usual Wodehouse story, Barty in his 1920’s English would appropriately reply by saying, “Right ho then. If you are ought to give a heave-ho, pip-pip,Toodloo.” Then he would hail transportation for her and bend to open the car door for her. Make sure that she is seated comfortably and give the address to the driver telling him to drop her carefully. The alley would have been bright and it for sure would have been day time.

As I was day dreaming into the whole idea of a Wodehouse, I saw a very faint view of a tattoo on the girl’s hand. And then I wondered to myself what if this had been a scene from a Dan Brown, then I can totally imagine myself being a nosy parker and listening to their conversation. The girl would have had an unusual pattern tattooed over her hand and the man would be inquiring her about it. They would have been dressed like they are right now. Just if the scene were to be made a little more Dan brown-ish then the guy would be more dressed in tweed coat and would have been unaware about his good looks. The tattoo would have been at a very random place like in the inner wrist or on her ring finger. Then she would have told him about the story behind the encryption, taking a promise of never mentioning it to anyone as it was a secret to be protected by life, the secret organization had spent years and years in keeping the secret safe and if it comes out it’ ll destroy every existing belief, faith and tradition. Taking the clue from there the man would try to find out more about the girl’s murdered father and realize that he has very little time to save the world. Well not bad, it does sound like a stereotypical scene from the author. Living by my book world isn’t that difficult after all.

I was always told in my childhood that the job which you choose should have the requirement of your basic traits. Like for an astronaut should have the basic sense of physics and math, like a teacher should have the ability to be patient beyond belief, imagination is something I now realized is so important. But that isn’t the reason why I chose to be a writer; I was always a curious kid.

As I was growing up my mother told me that I had to look for a job in which curiosity didn’t kill the cat. Following my basic trait, I went up to the couple and thought I’ll break into a conversation to kill my curiosity and know who they really are. The couple gave me a warm welcoming smile. I went up to and introduced myself.
“Hi, the rain is really bad”.
The man got up shook my hand and said, yes it is.
They weren’t from Mumbai, that I was sure. The woman introduced herself as Nandini and the man as Raghav. They told me that they were theater actors and had come from Bangalore. I chuckled to myself that this is the irony, the people I was putting in so many situations where used to the idea of wearing different masks in reality. They were into street plays and had come to perform and conduct workshops about the art in Mumbai. As we started talking I came to know that they were a couple engaged. They had been in this profession for a quite some time. Observing them individually I realized that both did apply their personality to the work they did. They were versatile and very expressive. I realized what my boss had meant by applying my work in life.
In all the conversation I came to know that Nandini was a professional classical dancer and Raghav had been studding in the National Institute of Drama in Delhi. They seemed to quite an intelligent pair and highly dedicated to their work.
Raghav said, “We are performing at the Sophia Bhabha Hall this weekend. Why don’t you come and see us? To which Nandini added, “We’ll feel good to at least see one recognizable face in the crowd”. I smiled and told them that I would surely try. We shared good pleasantries about work and the cities.
By now the rain had stopped and the taxis came into clear view. They hailed a cab, exchanged e-mail ids and left. All by my own now I was thinking about the evening, the dark and stormy alley dint look so dark and stormy. The idea of being a 28 year old young man, in Mumbai working at a publication house with books all around him didn’t sound bad at all. I was just meant for this job. Delighted by my sudden discovery I saw the bus pulling in. I got onto it, and realized why I loved clichés.

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History Lesson

I was never a science or mathematics person. All near and dear ones would unanimously agree to this.
I was more on the history and politics side of education. I could somehow always understand and make sense of various things which happened in history and what were the results of those repercussions. It is very pulsating like every new thing you get to know about is a part of the larger puzzle. The new pieces of information to me look like the first time as kid I saw candy floss, pink, sweet, bubble like and very inviting.
Truth being told we live in a society which has completes belief in science and accounts. It really doesn’t care about the candy floss; what we are taught is about how the mechanics of the candy floss machine works and how much will it cost. You have uncle and aunts and family friends who ask you, “Why would you take arts in your high school board examination? You can do a BA in college, it is the same thing right?” At that very moment you’re counting backwards in your head from one to ten and in some cases from hundred to one. In the larger picture personally I am not very fond of the education system but then well that’s how our society believes we will remain sane.
We have brilliant examples of how history is created which we in general seem to forget. It is in those moments, which get together to define or create the moment of the era, which defines a new beginning and an end to the previous one. It is a circle which goes around. This is what should be explained to the critics of history. One of the examples would be of the trio famously known as Lal, Bal and Pal i.e Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal, they were the propagators of the radical approach towards India’s freedom. In 1905 they led the Swadeshi movement and during the Bengal partition mobilized Indians and carried demonstration strikes to oppose the British government’s decision.
In the year 1881 the history of Mumbai changed the moment the Marathi weekly ‘Kesari’ came into print. Mumbai for the first time saw what a single man could do. Mumbai started celebrating ‘samuhik ganapati visarjan’ a tradition followed till date.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the editor of ‘Maratha’ while Agarkar, his very close friend was the editor of The Kesari. With due course of time the difference in their ideologies grew and Agarkar quit the editor’s job from Kesari. Tilak’s main motive behind starting Kesari and Maratha was to provide information to readers as well as them educate them. He wanted to use his paper make the Indians self reliant and to be aware about their rights. Tilak firmly believed in the institution of education and thought of it as a tool to drive off the British government. Later on one of the most important contributions made by these papers was create a unity among the Indian readers during the Swadeshi Movement. In Tikal’s words he explained about the nature of ‘Kesari’ as – “‘Kesari will fearlessly and impartially discuss all problems. The increasing mentality of appeasing the British is not in the interest of this country. The articles published in ‘Kesari’ will be apt for its name ‘Kesari (lion)’ ”.
The paper had a Sanskrit verse printed near the editorial, the translation of the verse meant a warning to an intoxicated elephant to not enter the forest as the lion in the forest was used to destroying huge rocks thinking of them as elephants. The meaning of the Marathi word Kesari is ‘a lion’ and the addressed and warned the intoxicated elephant not to go in the forest, for there was a lion used to tearing the huge rocks mistaking them for elephants.
This would not have been possible if Tilak through his newspaper had not created a belief in his readers. His personality and ideology came across in his papers. As an editor he believed that his paper was meant for the greater good of the society and there would be no compromise on this ideal. . He used it as a platform to discuss various issues like government policies, politics, education and social issues Time and time again he had to go through various difficulties for pursuing ‘fearless journalism’.
Tilak and Agarkar were one of the first journalists against whom and deformation case was filed by Shri Barwe. This case is known as the ‘Kolhapur Kesari Episode’. Shri Barwe was the manager of the Diwaan of Kolhapur. An article published in the Kesari alleged that the Maharaja was being conspired against and his being stated as ‘mad’ was a conspiracy on the British government behalf. Tilak and Agarkar lost the case and were given a sentence of 4 months. It was only after the sentence that Tilak felt that he should become active in politics.
He put forth rational thoughts in his editorials. In the 1897 famine, he wrote in his articles about the ‘Famine Relief Code’ which forced the British government to take action and help the people. Tilak also appealed the masses to stand up for their rights. He also criticised intellectuals like Namdhar Gokhale who believed in following the British charter as ground rule for the anti government movements. Tilak objected by saying that since the government was foreign there was no need to follow their charter; India would need its own charter.
After the assassination of Mr. Rand in 1897, the government in order to bring the culprits into light became atrocious. The police authorities used ruthless repression in order to strike terror in the hearts of the people. Young men were rounded up and put in prison without notice. There were no trials and rights were suspended. Tilak agreed that the culprits should be brought to the court in his articles but he also mentioned on how the government had been insensitive to the people during the trying times of the plague. In his articles, he wrote fearlessly that the government had itself called for this sort of unrest. He further mentioned that though he did not support the violence but these young men are not left with any choice, he was quoted ‘men would be forced to pick up arms’. Rationality was the core frame of Tilak’s ideas and belief.
Tilak in his defense argued in the Court for 21 hours against the charges of treason filed against him. He clarified that the newspapers have a right to form public opinion and it is the duty of a newspaper to bring to the notice of the Government the nature of powers created in the political life of a country. The speech given by Tilak in the High Court was not an intellectual exercise to protect self but it showed his extra-ordinary qualities like his rationality in thinking, deep study of law, his love for the nation and his readiness to go through any punishment for his principles. All those who heard him pleading his case, experienced his nobility. As the judges declared him ‘guilty’, Judge Davar asked Tilak whether he wanted to say something. Tilak was quoted , “I am not an offender or guilty let the jury decide anything. There is a supreme power than this Court which controls worldly matters. It could be God’s wish that I get punishment so as to boost the mission that I have undertaken.”
Tilak as an editor was an inspiring figure to all those who worked under him and even to those who got influenced by his work. He became a public figure and took pride in the Indian culture. He wanted people to have aspirations and make the government aware of its short comings. He was a strong supporter of the freedom of press and in its power to influence and motivate people to believe for their own betterment. His editorials revolved around social awakening.
His was the generation which demanded to be heard in their country by their people. The moment ‘kesari’ came to print to every moment of his struggle, he kept creating history and this is the reason why the news media/print media is still strong in India because people did connect to the papers they read. Tilak believed in giving candy floss and not in how much money or how it was going to be made.

Puneet.

BMM or BMS

80-90% of today’s youth wants to major in Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS) or Bachelor of Mass Media (BMM)

Few weeks before the HSC results, my brother, Varshit Nandu, freaked out. He was not sure whether he would clear his boards or not. This was so obvious because he did not put in many efforts for this examination. Observing his actions daily, everyone in the family freaked out too. Few weeks later, the most awaited day arrived. It was the result day. Everybody in the house was anxious. My brother checked his result on internet and he just couldn’t stop smiling. He scored 83%. It was unexpected. I almost checked his result thrice to confirm the name that was printed on the result was Mr. Varshit Nandu or not. Yes, he had passed with flying colours.

Now it was the time for us to visit different colleges and collect admission forms for the Degree College. My brother wanted to major in Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS).  For two consecutive days, my brother and I visited different colleges to collect the admission forms. While we were waiting in the queue, I asked few random boys and girls  regarding their percentage and what major are they going to pursue. From the answers that I received, I observed that 80-90% of the boys and girls  wanted to major in Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS) or Bachelor of Mass Media (BMM) and not get into a science stream including the ones who scored 90% and above.

I asked one of them the reason behind them for selecting  Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS) or Bachelor in Mass Media (BMM). One of the boy replied, “I want to pursue BMS. I want to earn fast money and you know what – all hot girls are in BMS . Why should I waste my young hood?” One of his friends, told him to shut up and not share his thought regarding hot girls so openly. I was surprised to know how today’s youth thinks and on what basis do they select a major.

In addition, another boy said, “I secured 54% and I want to pursue BMM.” In return, I said, “Do you think you will be able to secure a seat in this college?” He replied, “Hell Yeah! I will get into college because I have applied only in top 3 colleges of South Mumbai. Even if I don’t get on merit basis, I will make my father pay donation for one of these 3 colleges but one thing is for sure that I’m going to pursue BMM only. If my parents disagree, I will quit my studies.” A minute later, his cell phone rang. He received a call from his mother.  He said, “Mom, I have applied for BMM only. I am not applying for any science and commerce courses. I don’t care what you want me to do.” He hanged the call.  This was the second shock of the day for me. He didn’t respect his mother who was concerned for his future.

Soon we collected the admission form, filled in the details, submitted the form and left to visit other colleges. Some colleges had the facility of online forms. Filling the forms online and submitting them online saved a lot of time of us and it saved the usage of paper too. After visiting South Mumbai colleges, we returned home.

The next day, we visited the colleges located in Suburbs. I asked the same question (mentioned above) to the boys and girls out there. One of the girl replied, “Who wants study for 10 years in this age. Medicine, Engineering and all other science courses are too long. By the time, I earn a Master’s degree, I will turn old. What about my life? I shall not waste it. Therefore, I decided to major in these non-aided courses. I have filled forms for both BMS and BMM. I’m sure I will get into one of these streams.” I smiled at her and she left.

After observing the above pattern, I come to the conclusion that today’s youth are more interested in short courses (2-3 years courses) than longer courses (Medicine, Law, Engineering and so on). Everyone you see these days, talks about this un-aided courses and how it will  help them to make fast money. Gone are the days, when one would struggle so hard to achieve what they wanted. Today’s generation wants more fun and less work.

Ms. Aarti Nandu, a psychologist said, “Today’s youth wants to make fast money and live their lives lavishly. Every day, several young boys and girls visit my office and  I understand why they say ‘It is generation gap.’ It is not their fault only. When a person has both money and power, it drives them crazy. Usually, the boys and girls who visit my office belong from a well to do family and they are the ones who are spoiled (brats).” In addition, she said, “The middle class family thinks of making more and more money. Their children work hard and get into science streams so that they can earn a huge amount whereas the rich brats only want to enjoy their life. It is sad to know that the future of our country lies in the hands of such youths.”

Ruchi Nandu- TYBMM