Long Shot

In a population of 1.3 billion people,hockey-copy-650_022712061716 it takes some amazing skills to not excel in any sport other than cricket! Indian sports as it stands today is not what it once was. Indeed, India had significant victories in football and hockey earlier in the century – a far cry from the sorry state of affairs today.

Let us consider the top 5 reasons for sports not working in our stride!

  1. No infrastructure:

Of course! That is our answer to everything! It’s like we have accepted that it is an acceptable answer, and then feel sorry for ourselves. Why doesn’t the government make pet shelters? No infrastructure for people, how can we create one for dogs? Okay, why isn’t there shelter for everyone? Because they rented it out. Oh yes, why should they shift to a better facility, if they can earn an added income, and still enjoy the perks of being under poverty line?

Sure.

2. Education:

At school, and at home both. We are taught to be great at sports, only after we excel in academics! One of the more popular sayings in recent times is – “If you are good at something, do it after engineering.” That essentially sums up our entire education system. Sports is not encouraged in schools, or at home. Forget it even being an option, it is royally looked down upon and used as sarcasm if you don’t score well – “Aur khelo bahar jaake!”

It’s viewed as a mere hobby in our country, and not a career.

3. Electricity:

You would say I have a knack of starting with any topic and bringing it to a point where I bash our government for core issues. Well, what do I do if they function that way! This year a few of our players were robbed of a chance to participate in the Rio Olympics only because – wait for it – power failure! What? Yes, you read it right. In the part of the country when people use generators to prepare lassi in a celebration, one couldn’t be deployed for something as important as Olympic selection, is a sham(e).

4. Role-models.

How can this not make it to the list when Salman is involved! There was a whole fiasco regarding the ambassadors for Rio Olympics, and Salman Khan was one of them. Since we don’t encourage sports, we need to borrow from Bollywood to represent us in sports as well. Anyway, given the collective IQ of our country, we come to know about our great sportsmen only when a movie is made on them! Sigh.

Though, Salman is a great choice. He is a great shooter himself.

5. Genes:

This is my favourite! I was bowled over when I was doing my research and realized that a lot of people believe that we don’t excel in sports because we don’t have the kind of body required for it! In a population of 1.3 billion people. Bravo!

If anything, we are great at making excuses, and no one can beat us to that. Not even close.

Higher Secondary Certificate Exam for the Best Mugger

Well, 15 days into the New Year, and it already isn’t happy for a few of us! I know you lost your hair pin, which was the perfect shade of the dress you are going to wear for SulaFest! Life can be cruel sometimes- hang in there!

But there are some unlucky 10th and 12th grade students, who are going to appear for their board exams next month- Oh you poor souls! For me, the only good thing about these SSC board exams was that it happened a decade ago! Yes, I am old, but what the hell, at least I am not struggling for my face to be exhibited on the side of the BEST bus! Hello paan stains!

All you can’t-wait-to-go-college-kids are thinking about is- how much do I get to answer the question that seems to be on everyone’s mind (including Jaadu) – “Are you planning to take up medicine or engineering, or should we hire you as our sweeper?” But let me tell you something. 80% of the questionnaire is going to be from that one chapter you skipped. And no, you will never use trigonometry in your life! True Story! *facepalm*34a9bfc80ff200387fbfc1637a2699f3

Apart from hard(ly) work, heavy bag workout, and chit-cheating, (oops, chit-chatting) another thing which is prevalent in a student education today is – tension! It is as important as the date of Battle of Plassey- which, by the way, is June 23, 1757. But I have google, and you don’t! One up!

There are only 2 kinds of students who are tension free at this moment–

  1. The one’s who have surrendered themselves to the examiner – since they know no amount of work they do now is really going to reap any benefits!
  2. When your self-esteem is so low, that there is no self, and only esteem is left – and you are wondering where do I drive to now?

While some others are not really tensed about the exam, but if the Rs. 10/- Puja thali is going to work its magic is their primary concern!

One small theory about tension – Tension is always about achieving and not about understanding. (This one is not by Baba Ranchoddas). And this, my friends, is the primary problem with our education system. For example – Students generally fetch full marks for writing, “Excess alcohol causes memory loss and liver cirrhosis”, but celebrate writing this answer with a wasted night. Memory loss I guess. On second thoughts, probably they are doing it right – experience by practical implementation is more important after all.

Right now, your mind is thinking of all kinds of possibilities that this upcoming exam holds-

“What if I don’t score well?”

“What if I score so well that my parents think I am brilliant and I am forced to take up medicine?”

But all said and done, stop reading this article now, and start getting concerned again for the upcoming exams, so that you clear it just to give the next one, and then next, until you realise that it’s a trap and your parents lied when they said – “Bass, this one exam, and then life is great!” Booyeah!

Google The Doodle

There is this campaign that Google hcartoonFace0olds every year for school children, wherein the competitors have to doodle the Google logo with a given theme. All the people who have seen the advertisement on YouTube, congratulations on being unemployed! *Fist-Five*

Anyway, so this year’s theme is – If I could create something for India, what would it be? 
 Since I can’t take part in the competition (They don’t know my brain is only 8), but I am stubborn and will list my entries here! (In your face, Google!) Here goes it:

Sketch-up block for toilet: Firstly, everyone who knows what sketch-up is – hahaha, stop cursing the moment you took the decision of getting into Architecture! But won’t it be cool, if we could just make one toilet block and click, click, click – Tada! Sanitation problem solved!

Flying Vacuum Cleaner: Yeah, I know this one is a part of the ad! But imagine, a giant vacuum cleaner in the clouds cleaning away all the dirt in our country (yes that includes likes of Sharad Pawar). Or even better, a flying car which doesn’t pollute, but in fact runs on pollution! This is one thing that everybody, EVERYBODY has sometime wanted – just to get away from ever increasing traffic on the road. I can only imagine if this was ever made, and all of us had one, what would happen! The only thing I am sure about is, ‘Fast and the Furious’ will return with some awesome sequels!

Avengers in Parliament: Well, this one is my favorite. Imagine being governed by Avengers – it is the best way for us to avenge for all those years of bad, irresponsible governance, by replacing them with these cool superheroes who will S.H.I.E.L.D. us! And of course, what can get better than having Robert Downing Jr. in our parliament! Sigh.

Vending Machine: Vending Machine? Amidst all that India is going through, and all the things I could actually wish for, all I am wishing for is a vending machine? Really? Actually yes. Not the kinds that gives out pretzels and cola, but a machine of happiness. They say happiness cannot be bought, but what if it could be! Won’t it be cool if you could trade all the anger, frustration, sadness with a machine for joy? More than anything else, we just need to be happier people! The only side-effect will be that Radhe Maa and Nirmal Baba will be out of work, but who is complaining?

Neuralizer: While I know that if Neuralizer (from Men in Black 3 fame) gets into wrong hands, it could be disastrous- but I couldn’t stop thinking about how great it will be to have one for real! This device can erase memory of a person from past couple of hours, to weeks or even centuries. We need it to forget and erase all evidence of a few of our collective memory- like women inequality, dowry, or even feminism etc. Let’s just forget what has happened in the past, and create a new past for the future, where this world is neither of any one gender or specie!

Woah! I could get quite demanding if I wanted to! Co-incidentally, while I am writing this article, my 4 year old nephew here is talking about inventing a band that will shoot all mosquitoes! And well, that is the best idea of this list!

Culture of Politics or Politics of Culture?

Now that Gandhi Jayanti is over, we can all get back to bribing that traffic hawaldar, lying at the drop of a hat, and spitting on that newly painted wall! Not that yesterday we did not indulge (cheers to all those who managed to have a drink), but at least there was a national sentiment as such!

For all those who were high- of course because of Friday holiday- I will remind you that yesterday marked the 146th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, 111th birth anniversary of Lal bahadur Shastri, and the 1st anniversary of Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. It was basically a day of trending Gandhiji on twitter, leaving for Goa for the long weekend, and using Gandhian messages for political good!

I feel this is one topic on which a lot is written, a lot is filmed, a lot is said and quoted, and a little is acted upon! Actually, in retrospect, I will take my words back. I feel we are doing our best to act on all Gandhian principals! No, seriously! For example, Gandhi’s philosophy was based on principal of Swadeshi, and we firmly believe in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (One World Family). All it takes is to know how and when to put two and two together!

Gandhian thinking is essentially about a sustainable way of life, an economic system based on trusteeship and a society in which everyone gains rather than the few become rich at the expense of the many. It is a complex, inter-related system of thought. We are so on the right path –which is made by our government. Hence, the delay!

These days Gandhiji is in our books, on our roads, on our walls, in our pocket and in the political campaign speeches! But not in our heart or behavior. We as a country suffer from selective learning. We have so much knowledge about every subject at our mercy, but we tend to twist and manipulate it in our stride – and use the knowledge only to save our face! Some people happened to read, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” and thought, bingo! That is exactly we want to do. They are all leading our country at the moment, and just for the record, we are blind!

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I firmly believe that Gandhian philosophy is relevant today, more than ever! This century has seen a tremendous rise in globalization, privatization, violence, inequity, poverty, et al. We direly need a Gandhi to save our face in this highly consumptive world! His ideals hold a moral and social mirror to our society! But sadly, while one of Gandhiji’s most famous quote is “Be the change you want to see”, we tend to boo the change we are seeing.

Although Gandhiji has been made an icon of “Clean India”- I think we are taking it too literally. Of course, cleanliness is very important, but all his teachings give more importance to an India cleaned of corruption, violence, hatred, inequality, injustice and the like.

I dream of a Gandhian Swachch Bharat!

The Problem of Plenty

Dog-opoly is a dog-specie version of the famous board game Monopoly, but it really is the monopoly of dogs on the Indian streets!

Our country has a large population of stray dogs- I mean obnoxiously large! Sometimes, one may not find people on streets, but dogs – always! While it may not be appropriate to generalize, but stray dogs have proved to be calamitous for humans, in many incidents and places. Apart from being a tad-bit noisy and unhygienic, they are quite dangerous. It is quite terrifying to walk on streets at night, with howling sounds in the background. They contribute to a number of road accidents, of which a few prove almost fatal to a person walking, in order to save the-dog-sprung-from-God-knows-where. Not eliminating the fact that it could prove fatal for them as well, and that this is a difficult life for them. (Please don’t call PETA).

Quite a few people, by now, probably detest me for my perspective on this particular issue, but in all reasonableness, it makes sense. I mean I understand that they also are a breathing, eating, pooping, moving, barking-but-unable-to-talk-and-express-their-plight (and so are chickens we eat?) kind of creatures, but in my view we need to re-think the extent to which we take things emotionally, accept that it is a grave issue, and take steps to find a permanent solution.

Any discussion on welfare of strays always gets the same reply, “We don’t have resources to cater to majority of people, and how can we cater to dogs?” I don’t completely agree with this notion. In an urban setting, one cannot diversify problems like that. Everything is correlated. If measures are taken to fix any one issue, it automatically affects the other.

One of the main and obvious reason is our hygiene habits. It is the unattended litter on the roads, which actually is a feast for these stray-dogs, and cater to their survival and existence. We as a culture are quite messy- always blaming the incapable and inactive government for improper infrastructure, and on the other hand, don’t even maintain sanitation regime on personal level! We really do not need to wait for a TV show, a bill-board sign or our Prime Minister to start movement to know the importance of cleanliness. It is only clearing of litter that will solve the problem – quicker than anything!

Apart from that, there are a lot of organisations that vaccinate the stray dogs – all thanks to a few good Samaritans. Let us at least help them help us in any way we can – volunteer, provide resources, financial aid, inform about unattended or bruised stray dogs, adopt and encourage others to adopt, etc. Actually even if one cannot adopt these stray dogs, getting them vaccinated will not only save their lives, but also prevent spreading of diseases. These solutions may not be quick in reducing the number of strays, but probably are first few steps in the planned scheme of reducing their numbers. And Jaipur has proved that it is possible.

Every dog has its day, but with our collective efforts these dogs will have a life.

Dear 16-year old me,

Hey!dear16

Listen up. I need to talk to you. I know you are going to have to put that giggly conversation on hold for a bit, but then I assure you, you are not going to regret this.

“It’s okay!”- These are two magical words. Always remember, whatever is happening – right or wrong, happy or unhappy – it is okay! It’s a phase, it is going to change. Nothing lasts forever. Nothing. Not even the things you want to last will last – which also is okay!

Board exam is probably the easiest exam you will take in your life. And it isn’t as big as you have made it in your head. Relax.

At 16, you are a good kid. But remember, you miss the point if you start feeling the pressure. It definitely is not worth the effort, only to make every-single-one you know, like you. You are going to disappoint a few people now and then, but that’s how it works. It’s important to maintain honest relations, than fake densities. You are going meet some incredible people in a few years!

That perfect guy you think you are going to spend the rest of your life with…uhh, you are not in touch with him anymore! The only guy that is perfect is your father. So deal with that heartbreak and put it behind you.

I can see that the straight hair-do is what is really doing the rounds these days. But you are going to fall in love with those curls eventually. They look absolutely stunning!

I know you are afraid, afraid of unpopularity, afraid of not fitting in, afraid of not being cool-enough. But, you know what, being cool is anyway overrated. Being yourself, loving yourself exactly the way you are is really the thing. I know this sounds like a boring lecture right now, or you are even embarrassed of me doing this but only do things that you really enjoy doing!

One great news is you are never going to need trigonometry in your life. But, pick up that brush, and brush up on your art skills. You are really going to need that a lot.

I know the sister is nagging, and no one seems to “get” you. Step back. Calm down. And you will realize it is so insanely silly to even think that way!

Break some rules. Not because they will make for great grandparent stories, but because a little bit of rebel in you always helps. ALWAYS.

Everything changes. Sometimes too fast and too sudden. The only thing common to all these changes is- it is always for the better. Just don’t let the whole optimism go anywhere. Take it all with you, you keep needing it more and more every year! Stock it up.

Life only gets better from here. I’d be lying if I say that it’s all rainbows and sunshine a decade later, but that’s what makes it all worth it. So hang in there! The trick is to keep breathing. Head high. Aiming at the stars.

Also, like Baz Luhrmann says it, wear sunscreen.

50 shades of Ban

No one told me when the Make in India was replaced by Ban in India. It is not even funny the number of things we have banned in the last one week.

The only thing that is common in all these bans is our inability to tackle sensitive issues. Banning is running away from the scenario. It is a reflection of our hypocrisy, narrow-mindedness, bias, and cowardice. It shows that we have no faith in our thousands of year old culture and value system, that we are questioning its sustenance.

Having said that banning does not deter the fact that we are what we ban.

I mean if we have to ban anything, implies that it exists, that it is our value-system, a trend now. And banning a video doesn’t change that! Whom are we kidding? Do the policy makers really believe that banning products, actions, videos, and words really curbs their use?  In fact, all it does is people looking for more illegal ways to do “it”, eat “it”, watch “it”, and all this while saying “it”.

Seriously, don’t we all know where to find alcohol in Gujarat? And by now, beef in Maharashtra? Don’t we all use cuss words? Haven’t we seen the AIB Roast or the documentary? In fact, banning the video gave it more popularity, and all the people who did not even know AIB exists, have access to the aforesaid video. And don’t even make me question banning 50 shades of grey.

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I think this simply shows the power of the words don’t, no, ban has. We just have to do it. Cannot explain the psychology more simply. That exactly is how it works, government! “Ban” is not the solution.

There are 50 shades of our mentality to be tackled, and putting even a fraction of our energy in that direction will get a lot more achieved than banning these things.

PS – Let me know when we Ban Janata Party!

i(am)MAD

Oh yes totally! iMAD – I Make A Difference – is a Nashik based youth organisation, working hard to bring smiles on the faces of the lesser privileged kids in the society, and are striving to equip them to retain the smiles for the rest of their lives.

Simply put, it is really only that!

But there is an entire process to it. The beauty of this process, because we are relatively new, is the flexibility of the ideas and their execution. There are no set rules or pattern in the way learning is delivered – it is done in the best possible way that we know at that moment. And that not only is fun, but is much more productive than a pre-set traditional unidirectional way of doing things.

How is it different from any school or tuition out there, you may ask! The program is driven by 20-something volunteers, who even now are victims of the dull monotonous education system. We all have 20 years of experience of being ‘schooled’, and hence are well aware of what not to do with these children. With that out of the way, it is just innovation and creativity in making learning fun, making it a dialogue, a discussion, in injecting the thirst for knowledge, in all-round development, in exposure to the ways of the “real” world, in empowering the kids, and fabricating them to be passion driven human beings.

And this  organisation is led by someone who practices what he preaches, since Siddhant was merely 20 year old civil engineering student, when he started this organisation, and made it tremendously successful in very less time. It grew from a 5 volunteers organisation to a 150 volunteers organisation is less than three years!

We currently have three centres in Nashik, and have been invited to start a fourth one as well. We work in seasons of 3 months, twice a year, considering the exam and vacation schedule of the kids. In the remaining six months, we analyse our methods, discuss our ways of tackling different situations, and how can we better them. These are more crucial months, because this is where our foundation for the next season is laid, not only in terms of syllabus planning, but also in the way it is delivered.

Apart from all the sessions we have at personal level once a week, we are trying to make an impact in their lives on an everyday basis. Consequently, we are working on installing iCOMP – a computer with all the relevant data included, and made accessible in more fun ways to the kids in their hostel premises. More on that later.

All I can say, with personal experience, is that it really is just a farce thinking that we are making a difference to their life, while in reality, those few hours are just an investment to a fulfilling and enriching experience we have, which in due course shapes us as leaders, as people and makes a world of a difference to our lives. I bet every volunteer will second that.

PS – If you are in Nashik, and are interested to join us, or can help us in any way possible to you, please contact the president of iMAD Siddhant Borade – 9545861100.