Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Year On...


It's 26th of November... A day which redefined the extent terror could penetrate in India... The desi version of 9/11 World Trade Center attack... The carnage which shook the whole world and not just the nation. The massacre which left everyone in Mumbai open-jawed in astonishment.

Those 62 hours... Glued to the television set... Watching TimesNow (the only news channel I trust) and updating myself about any developments in any of the three affected sites.

I still remember the heated debate we had in our classroom the day school re-opened after a mini-vacation. While everyone tried to prove their points, there was one thing that was constantly on my mind, that everyone was trying to find faults, rather than appreciate the effort. It was then that I realized, we as Indians, have a habit to see the glass half empty and wonder who drank it, rather than seeing it half full.

Some people said, it was humanity at its worst, some claimed it to be a result of India's ill fate, some said it was the outcome of the enmity it has developed with the Muslim terror groups.

I say it was negligence. Negligence on the part of Indian authorities. Negligence on the part of the Indian Navy, the Coastal Guard, the Indian Surveillance authorities, the Indian Railway, and the Indian Government. The only authorities which were safe from humiliation were the authorities related to air.

Nevertheless, I won't fail to commend the effort made by the policemen, soldiers and commandos who went into the attacked structures and rescued those people who live-on to tell their painful stories. The analysts over the world have endorsed the process the Indian men engaged in operation took. It has been acclaimed and the world believes the process couldn't have been faster than it was done.

Little has changed since then. It was like the ripples in the lake and then everything was calm again. Metal detectors and CCTVs employed at almost every place, but, as of today, most of the people don't walk through those detectors and no one monitors the CCTVs! And this is just one of the hundred examples.

I just hate it when I realize that India didn't wake up to even this event. And, I have a conjecture, does India need something even more blitz? Or will even that end up as political blame-games and pending cases with the Indian judiciary?

May be such a attack was mandatory to open our eyes wide open... But, it seems, it hasn't gotten us off our drowsiness.

We still blame the government and our bureaucracy for their inefficiency, but, never look within ourselves. We still bribe them to get our work done. We still break the signal at midnight with no policeman around. We still don't openly and fearlessly oppose anything wrong. We still don't tell those sons of the babus' that they are the sons in their homes, and in the public, they are just another citizens with no special privileges. We still don't find it wrong to burn the hay to find a needle. We still throw garbage on the streets when we know that it's meant to be in the bins. We still don't get time from our daily sops to watch what's making the news around the world. We still just stand for solidarity and appreciation, but, don't go out and hold the hands of those who need us in support. We still have a strong viewpoint that nothing can change. We still have the same answer when asked as to why we are doing the above, "Everyone does it!"

And this is where this cognition takes me... Disappointment. Because a human who doesn't learn from mistakes is nothing but a blockhead.

I know one thing... I am no dunce... And, I won't give in to this... If no one else will, I will lead the change... No change is easy, but, I won't leave a stone unturned to make this change happen. I have a choice, let it happen or be a part of the change... And, I am sure where I want to belong.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Inspiration Or Enthusiasm

In life, every moment is different. Every moment brings something new to us. Something to learn, something to cherish, something to smile about. Sometimes, we cry before we laugh, sometimes we mourn before celebrating, sometimes we fear before approaching. But, everything in the end has to end on a goody-goody note.

As we are social animals, we are nothing alone. We need some sort of frenzy to live and some reasons to hope. And, these reasons are usually provided to us, by, none other than our near-and-dear-ones. And, often there is more than one person responsible for it. Sometimes, they are our mentors, sometimes friends, sometimes, they are just there... By our side.

And, if you ask me, I would want to put all of them into categories. Categories which determine if we are inspired by them, or enthused. When I began blogging, there were two such people in my life too. And since then, I have been trying to decide which category either of them belongs. Seems like finally I am successful!

There are people who are our mentors, those who point out our mistakes and help us master our skills. They trust us, they let us know what our strengths are and what are our weaknesses. They are the real reason for us becoming better with every new day. They make us realize the need to look out for difficulties and then, help ourselves. They never provide us with solutions in our hand, but, tell us about the pros and cons of each and every choice we might make. They never let the talent inside us die. These are the people who provide us with the enthusiasm.

And, there are those whose mere presence in our lives, who incite various conversations, stir up thoughts, and instigate our thinking process. They silently tell us millions of things. They sometimes are themselves unaware of their contribution to our lives. They are the bank of ideas we have. They are silently supportive. They might not be the best critics or the most blunt admirers of our talents, but, they don't falter in helping us. The thinking process is initiated just because of them!

And, I hope I help you to realize who these people are in your life, in each activity, there can be different people. Sometimes, unknowingly, a single person occupies both these positions in our lives. And, sometimes, it's we ourselves who does these tasks.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Alma Mater

Hello dear readers,

As the title suggests, this one's about all I feel for my school.

There are these happy places in everyone's lives about which even a thought makes us smile... Places which we dream about being in... Places which are next to heaven for us... Places where we have spent the most memorable times of our lives... And, the numero uno, in this category, for me, is undoubtedly, my school, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Vidyalaya, Malad.

Thirteen years... I have spent thirteen long years of my place in this institution. The early years of my life. The years, when you can mould either a marvel or a gangster of the kids, were spent there by me. The most primitive stages of my development and the process of evolving into a responsible individual took place in me here.

There I learnt there what are called the alphabets and then to speak and write sentences only to jump to essays and letters... The transition from time when we used to write our answers in just a word or two and wonder how the elder students wrote answers long as essays to the time when we just became one of them... The journey from being toddlers teenagers... Enroute the best destination in the world, my school...

The school building is so tall and vast that it actually gives shivers to the kids who enter the building for the first time. But, it doesn't take much time for them to realize that this building is there to protect and shelter them from the difficulties of the world...

In school, I have learnt many things... But, the most important of them all is, learning to be myself, that each individual has his own identity, and he/she should carry it with dignity and self-respect, that no one has ever been successful by imitation, but, by self-reliance and self-improvement.

I recently was felicitated at a school function for securing the highest marks in all the five branches of BCG in Sanskrit. Though, I shared the prize with eight other students, at that moment I felt proud of myself, and my school, which paved the way for this glory.

The best part of this function, in my opinion, was the lightning of the lamps, which was not done by a dignitary, or any of the teachers, principals or trustees, but, the School Captains of all the five schools. This was symbolic as it portrayed what BCG aims at saying, power to the students... It was a students' function, so, it would be unfair if anyone else performed such ceremonious rituals... This was when I truly believed, BCG will remain BCG forever...

I still remember my first walk into my school building with my mother. Though, I don't remember all the bits and pieces, I remember this part, that I didn't cry like many others around me. I was indeed happy to be in a place which eventually went on to become the sculptor of my personality.

In the passage of the thirteen years, numerous values got imbibed in me like, the core values of our Bombay Cambridge Gurukul (sensitivity, reasoning, courage, integrity), leadership, self-improvement, independence, the art of planning, responsibility, among many others.

My school has been the reason for me being what I am now. I completely owe myselven to my school. It's the reason for the existence of the guy, who writes such stuff whenever he wants to, 'Setu Shah'. The guy for whom his school is much more than just his second home, much more than just being with friends and learning with teachers, much more than the interactive sessions with teachers (and not lectures)...

Today, I have graduated from this institution, but, only my parents, friends and teachers can tell you as to in which regard I hold my school. Now, I am just another member of the alumni of this academy, but, I can be sure of one thing, that DSRV and BCG will always keep persevering for the progress of their students and contribute in that way to the betterment of the society on the whole...

I embarked the journey of learning, which will go on until I attain salvation, from my school and so, it will remain etched in my memory forever... Forever...

Hail DSRV, the creator of the winners!

So long...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Soothing... - Part II

When I began with 'Soothing...', I planned to write in it all the kinds of music that I am very fond of, personally. But, the English music part was just so long that I thought, that the Hindi would probably find its place in 'Soothing... - Part II'. And, so here it is... This post was awaited by many people who are regular followers of my blog. So, this one is my ode to the music which I had been originally introduced to, and have been listening to since the last fifteen years (I began exploring English music by myself in the last two years), Indian Music.

India has had a vast musical history. From the discovery of the octaves, to the creation of the 'Sa Re Ga Ma'... It's endless. But, one whom we can't afford to forget here is, Tansen, one of the Navratnas of Akbar's court. He was the only laureate in the court who was specialised in music. This in itself explains that India has had a craving for music since its inception as a country.

Aaah! Where do I begin from? Simple. The most legendary music director of all times, R D Burman. What a person! It's said, music is in hands of some people. But, I believe music was a part of his soul! His compositions had melody, harmony, sense, and even reality.

The next one who comes to mind is none other than Jagjit Singh, the undisputed King of Ghazals (a genre of music known only to the Indian ears). His songs were simple, yet, profound. They always did carry a message. And, the message never went unheard too. It was always absorbed giving him the best of respects.

Mohammad Rafi, another singer, spread music to nook and corners of India in minutes just like a fairy wound her stick. Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, the two sisters took female playback singing to new levels which were hitherto unknown to the people. Then, Pankaj Udhas and Manhar Udhas touched the chords of our lives by creating and spreading sensational music.
Kishore Kumar. Our Kishor Da! What a musician! He enthralled his personalities and that was just perfectly the way any singe should! Just, Wow! His music just seduces me to keep listening to it again and again.

Then came the era of music like never before, new upcoming singers. Reality television, foreign talent import, talent shows, brought India to face many new singing sensations who shook the audience with their voice, power, ability and mesmerizing personalities. Pakistani singers like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Adnan Sami, Atif Aslam, etc. found that their real place lies here, in the Indian music industry. They, were welcomed with open hands by their Indian counterparts and this led to a revolution in the world of music like no other had ever been.

Speaking of revolutions, how can we forget talent shows which gave birth to talents like Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal, Sunidhi Chauhan and brought them to the main course of popularly served music than just the stupid starters. Two of which, went on to become judges of reality television shows aiming to explore the singing potential in the nation. The discoveries like Abhijeet Sawant, Amit Sana, Debojit, Toshi, etc. are surely proving a boon, not just for the music industry, but also, for the lovers of music.

The others who proved their worth themselves and earnt a name for themselves in this sought-after industry include Kailash Kher, Mohit Chauhan, Benny Dayal, Atif Aslam, Adnan Sami, Shaan, etc.

How can I forget this man, Allah Rakha Rahman, or simply, our very own, A. R. Rahman, the maestro music director and composer, whom now the world recognizes as a person who ran to the Oscars with the torch, lit by thousands of musicians India has nurtured, and returned with a lady which was even more glittering than the torch. Because now, the world was ready to believe that India had finally arrived into the international musical circuit. But, this was after more than 18 years of music was composed by him and just recently in 2009. Before that, he was just another music director from Bollywood, for the world.

Anu Malik is yet another marvelous music director and composer. He is called as a cynic by some and complacent by the rest, as his behaviour in a relaity show was portrayed to be, but, in reality, he is one of the musical gems India  has ever got, because his work speaks more than the words those spreading gossip do.

The emerging talents like Sourabhee, Anmol Malik, Aditya Narayan are those on whose shoulders, the responsibility to keep Indian music on a high forever, lies.

And here, the lyricists need to be given their worth of credit. Lyricists like Javed Akhtar, Gulzar, Prasoon Joshi, etc. play with words in a way that even a mere sentence sounds as melodious as the song of a cuckoo.

I believe that old Hindi Film music was a sparkling period and that's why the top two radio stations in Mumbai (not sure about the whole country) have specialised shows dedicated to this music in their evening prime times.

But, whatever may be the case, I just feel one simple, stupid thing. Indian music has had great talents. Agreed. Indian music has touched new heights. Agreed too. But, what's the problem then with the Indian bands? There are many bands through out the country like Om, Fuzon, Indian Ocean, etc. whose music is of a quality which can compete with the best bands of the world. If their music isn't the problem, then, what is it? According to the clouds my eyes can see through, the problem is that we Indians are so interested to see our superstars (Gods for most of their audience) in a particular song that we relate the song to the superstar and take away the credit from the singer, composer, lyricist who actually work harder in making the song! Who would like to work in a world where their work isn't credited with? This is the reason such bands might have a painful disbanding just because there aren't enough people listening to the music and the record labels aren't interested to experiment and (may be) reduce their profits, even by a margin.

Whatever be the case, I love the music I hear throughout my day. Either Hindi or English or numerous songs of both... Music's just the way to enjoy life...

Monday, November 9, 2009

If I had 'Nothing' To Do Or Speak...

Every morning, every blogger, who updates his blogs frequently, is posed with one question. What do I write about in my next blog?

Should I write on what happens in the world, the news, the current affairs and my opinions about them, like most bloggers around the world do? Or should I blurt out what my heart says? Or should I measure what I am writing because people might even judge me on the basis of what I have written.

But, at times, the question doesn't come through or the answer is obtained in talks with someone unknowingly. The discovery of this topic too was obtained in the latter fashion.

How many times have we been asked "What else?" or "What's up?" and we end up answering the same old, "Nothing" in the most dull possible tone. And, most of the times, even after having this answer, the conversation kicks off. We mine through the topics and begin talking about various things which sometimes doesn't have an end. And, as it's said, the world's round, and we are back to the same question, "What else?" Everything's the same, except the end, when the topics which begin are truly new.

If we have nothing ever to say, how does our dear friend, the one around the corner - our pillar of support when we are down, the beholder of our most secret treasures, the person who actually reads us by our eyes and says if we happy, in pain, or are in a lighter mood - tell us in a split second, in a stark manner, to just blurt out our grievances because they are there to listen.

If we have nothing ever to say, how do our parents - those who have known us since the moment we came to life, those to whom our happiness means everything, who aim to give us a life of our dreams, those who have just one aim in their lives, the happiness of their children, those for whom the day neither begins nor ends without talking to their children, who come to know what we are going through even if it goes unspoken because they have known us even when we didn't know the art of speaking - just take the burden of our shoulders by saying, 'It's okay to falter, but, the learning is, not to repeat it again. Because, the habit of faltering will take us nowhere in life.'

And there are even those times, when we feel like doing 'Nothing'. Doing nothing but talking to a dear friend, doing nothing but listening to our favourite music, going for a drive, going to the beach, etc. This is our 'Nothing'!

If I had nothing to do, I would not be in this place. I would not be living! If I had nothing to do, I would have been in heaven (because in hell, you need to face the pain and torture, according to the mythologies told to me, and that won't be nothing).

Wouldn't it be great to actually not being bombarded with responsibilities to do various tasks? Wouldn't it be great to just sit or stand somewhere and worry about nothing? Wouldn't it be awesome enough to just 'be'? Wouldn't it be all to live for? Wouldn't there be anything I would have to do? Would we realize when time sped by? Wouldn't we enjoy a world without boundaries, limitations, restrictions, and snags? Wouldn't it be lovely to never feel the need to rejuvenate our own selves? Wouldn't it feel amazingly good to just know that you don't need to talk, chide, express, communicate,if we didn't have to cry over small tragedies, to laugh on stupid jokes? Wouldn't it be at par with the lives we end up day-dreaming about?

If someone asks me this, I would say, it wouldn't, not for me. Just because, these things don't make me realize what I am supposed to do, what people expect from me, they don't make me responsible, they don't let me interact with my loved ones, they don't make me feel complete, they don't have a sense of oneness in them and loneliness prevails, they violate the definition of human beings which defines them as 'social animals', they can't gift me the happiness and satisfaction which I get otherwise, they wouldn't be moments I would cherish. They would just 'be' a few moments.

And, if I end up in such a life, I pledge to you that I won't stop rummaging for the moments and things which mean more than life to me... Even if they are pigsty for some, they are the most palpable blooming flowers I can ever have... They touch the chords of my life...

Signing off...

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