Shades Of Grey

I looked at my watch. It was 20 past 7. Suchitra yelled “Are you coming or not? I am going to leave.”
She picked her bag. I hurriedly turned off the laptop and we both dashed out through the door.
We both signed the attendance register and were inside the lift, the following second.

Suchitra was very angry, placating her wasn’t an issue though! A bread pakoda was all it took! So we bought the same and walked the streets of Panaji to finally reach the bus stand. We bade a good-bye to each other. She boarded the Old Goa bus and I boarded the Mapusa bus.

And with Honey Singh screaming at top of his voice “Char bottal Vodka”, the wait for the bus to start was long and irritating.

It was very hectic and a hard day at work. I was happy to get a window seat in the bus. But it was still 10 more minutes for the bus to leave which actually seemed to me like eternity.

Suddenly 3 women entered with 2 kids. First I thought they were foreigners, for they had distinctive African features. But the saris they wore created a confusion. Two of those women came and sat besides me, the other in the seat right ahead of me.

And to my surprise, they spoke in Marathi!!!

Then it dawned on me that they were people from the Siddi tribe.

Siddi or Habshi as they are known in India, are the ethnic group that is originally from the African continent.
They were predominantly brought to the Indian subcontinent by the Arab, Portuguese, Dutch and other merchants as slaves. Renowned for their physical strength and supreme loyalty, some of these people escaped from the clutches of their masters and settled in different parts of India, mainly Karnataka, Hyderabad and Gujarat.

Sneha Khanwalkar, the famous Bollywood music director of films like Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, Gangs of Wasseypur Part 1 and 2 to name a few, has dedicated an episode of the series MTV Sound Trippin to the Siddis residing in interior part of Karnataka called Yellapura. It is astonishing to see how well these people have amalgamated in the Indian society, despite preserving their African heritage.

All of these thoughts were making rounds through my head. I noticed that the women suddenly were elevated to celebrity status, everyone was staring at them. Things were fine till they stared, but then some of the people started commenting on their skin color, their curly hair, their thick, overtly pouted lips.

It’s not new, I mean we do see such events

We being Indians are not new to this. I mean, lets admit it and stop pretending.
There are innumerable references in our day-to-day life which are very similar to this. Is it new that a South Indian person is being taunted by or looked upon with contempt by North Indian people calling them collectively as “Mallu” or “Madrasi”?
Or a North-East Indian being called “Ching-Chong” or “Chinese” or “Nepali”?

Despite being ruled by Britishers for hundred and fifty years, we are very much obsessed with the skin color, the fair the better they say.

Even after 60 plus years of independence, we are still the same (or should we say the condition is worse?).

We still encounter innumerable matrimonial in daily newspaper wherein being whitish is a taboo!
I wonder how much a father of a dusky or dark-skinned girl has to go through while marrying his daughter.

The statistics say that India is one of the biggest market for the skin lightening creams.
And why not! Our so-called dusky Bollywood stars do promote many of these brands.

When are we going to break free from the definition of so-called “conventional beauty”?
Why do we forget that behind every body there lies a heart which is unperturbed by the color of the body?

2014 Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o delivered a speech for an award ceremony, which later became famous as “Speech of Beauty“. She spoke about the insecurities and fears, hopes and despair and how she came out of it.
In fact I would advice everyone who feels that they need to be fairer to watch that video.

We Indians, of all, who have gone through the racist torture of the foreign rulers, do this to our very own people.

It just dawned on me that I was about to get down from the bus.

Dejected, probably partly due to lack of guts to confront the people and partly just to remain aloof from the whole situation, I got up and walked towards the door. And realized that some days are truly shitty, for Honey Singh started with his another irritating number.


Gone Are The Days……

It was raining heavily…….

I boarded the bus with the wet umbrella and my bag.
It’s August and is bound to rain cats and dogs in Goa during this period.

To my delight, the stereo in the bus played some old classic Hindi songs.
“Pukarta chala hu main, gali gali bahar ki…..”

What a song!

The bus gradually gathered the speed.
It was Saturday night, so there were hardly any passengers in the bus.

The conductor of the bus came to fetch me a ticket.
I handed a Rs. 20 note to the conductor.
In return, he gave me the ticket and he returned a Rs. 2 coin as a remainder.

The bus reached the Margao bus stand.
Still one and a half hours more to go, I thought.

The bus had stopped and some 5-6 passengers boarded the bus.

Suddenly, someone came to me and said “Hey Durga……..”
“How are you??”

I startled.
“Hey Kunal…….”
“How are you man? It’s been ages since we last met. All is well with me. What about you?”

Kunal was my best friend while in school. In fact we were like ‘chaddi buddies'( What else can you say when you were together since your kindergarten days??? )


It was in the Sharada kindergarten that we met for the first time.

It wasn’t that we clicked instantly. In fact we barely knew each other until the devilish teacher Miss Klita accidentally brought us closer.

The story goes this way.

Being the most talkative boy in class ( the coveted title which I held for several years in school and can still give a run for the money to the best in the business!!! ) and Kunal being quite the opposite, Miss Klita made us benchmates ( a measure that did appear to me as monstrous at that time) to restore the silence of the class.

The effect was obvious.
Oh no…..
Not what you think….
I didn’t stop talking, in fact Kunal started talking much more than he previously did.

As the time passed we became really good friends. I at times felt as if I was incredibly lucky to get a friend like him.

We shared anything and everything, nothing was a secret then.

Days passed and we were in our early teens.

I remember our grading system to judge the most-attractive-girl in our class.
And how we both fell for the same girl in our class.

I remember how we used to pass those nasty comments on our teachers.
Those after-school hours on the playground that we used to enjoy, is just a distant memory now.

It appears as if it was yesterday.

Time passes.

After the tenth standard I chose science as my stream and he opted for commerce.

Both of us were really sad that we couldn’t be in the same class together after 10th.

But we promised that we will meet at least twice a week and call each other everyday. We even did that for a while, 2-3 months may be.

Slowly but surely, that changed. He got busy with his life and me with mine. We remained occupied with our classes, our new friends, new surroundings.

Nothing was intentional, it just happened.

Those ‘weekend’ meetings were now taking place once in 2 months. We spoke once in a week on telephone.

After 12th he went to Pune for further studies. As a result the gap widened so much that we couldn’t even found time for some FB chat.

The whole roller coaster of emotions was going on in my mind.

We chatted on various topics……..our classmates, teachers and lots more.

Finally, he got up; he had reached his station. I bade him a goodbye and he did the same.
He said “Good bye. And be in touch”.
I said “Yup, you too.”

We were so close as friends, I always wonder what happened.
Where did we miss out.
I miss him sometimes.

But somewhere I do realize that priorities have changed…………for both.
Perhaps, my place in his life has been replaced by someone else.
Someone much better than me.

“Be in touch”, these words really look hollow sometimes.
I know it won’t be the same as it was in school.

All of this made me nostalgic.

I got up as the bus approached my stop.

And suddenly I noticed that the stereo played this below mentioned classic Hindi song by Kishore Kumar

Zindagi Ke Safar Mein
Guzar Jaate Hain Jo Makaam
Vo Phir Nahin Aate
Vo Phir Nahin Aate
( The destinations that we leave behind in our journey of life do not come back ).

It Ain’t All About Sex In Goa

My cellphone rang!!!

It was 11:30pm. Who could have called??

I caught hold of the cell, it flashed Nikhil………

Nikhil, one of my best buddies, recently joined Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT).
We had a casual chat about his new college, subjects, teachers, his new friends and lots more.

Just for the sake of curiosity I asked him about how his friends felt about our state, Goa.

I was shocked by the reply!

All of them praised Goa for the silver sand beaches and the world-famous Churches but primarily the question they asked was “Wow!!! Goa? What luck yar…. Lot of girls there are willing to take off their clothes for money. Do you know any “massage parlour” where we can get a nice body massage, we can enjoy when we visit next time?”


Are they serious?

Is this what they think about my beloved state??

I had to write this post after hearing all that bullshit.

Needless to say, Goa, with lot of beaches, Churches, Temples and many more scenic locations (especially during rains) is a famous tourist destination.


But I would love to put forth the accusations too.

Now look, I am not going to say “Oh, Goa is so picture perfect, not even a single flaw” and all that.

No I am not going to say that.

Let us just face it.

I agree prostitution ( The world’s oldest profession!!! ) happens in Goa. Yes.

But so it is, in almost every part of India and the world.

No matter how cleverly our politicians might deny this, facts aren’t going to change.

What surprises me is that compared to several other places in India it is very low. Has anyone heard about the Sonagachi in West Bengal, Garstin Bastion Road in New Delhi, Kamathipura in Mumbai??? Anyone?

Compared to this areas, it’s negligible in Goa.
Besides, why only Goa is being pointed out when prostitution is practiced almost everywhere in India??

Goans are also accused of being drunk all the time.

It is just that the tax on liquor here is very low compared to the other states. Hence alcoholic drinks are cheaper.

According to a survey conducted recently, close to 70 percent (68 to be precise!!) Goans do not drink alcoholic beverages. Astonishing, isn’t it!!!

The fact is that, when Indian tourists come down to Goa, they purchase liquor of twice the amount they usually do since they feel being in drunkard’s paradise.

But since liquor is cheap, they actually end up drinking more than 5 times the alcohol they usually drink!!!
That to in twice the amount they usually spend.

So who are the drunkards then? Goans or the Tourists??
It’s time for a reality-check baby!!!

Goan women are often considered scantily dressed ( Goa is quite liberal towards women). Contrary to that, the women tourist from across India that arrive in Goa actually wear the skimpiest clothes they ever had (because nobody is going to recognize them here).

And you say Goan women are scantily dressed?
Hypocrisy at its peak!!!

I do agree that there are plethora of foreigners moving in bikinis on the beach ( The beaches are titled as “Nude beaches” sometimes ).
But what else do you expect from them?
It’s beach, hence beachwear. It’s perfectly fine for them, for their culture.

Finally, guys I would urge you not to believe those Bollywood movies depicting Goa; many a time these are work of fiction that is supposed to end once you are out of the theatre.
Goa is very different compared to what is projected on the screen.

Off course, there are problems like prostitution, drugs and many others.
But Goa is a very peaceful state, famous for its Churches,exotic beaches,temples and nature.
It’s exquisite cuisine and Portuguese influence in various spheres of life.

And above all that, its congenial and friendly people.

But it’s definitely not all about sex in this Heaven on Earth.

The Unanswered Questions

Oh My God!!!

That was what I blurted out when I saw the queue. I was aware that the queue would be a long one, but this long???

As usual I was late!

It was carnival of sorts…………
People were shouting, screaming in a slightly low volume.

I was standing in a queue to contribute for the Uttarakhand Relief Fund. In fact, each one of us was.

“Oh God! I just can’t bear this heat. It really sucks when rain vanishes all of a sudden”. I heard a women telling her friend with an annoying tone.

Those two women were dressed as if they dressed to attend a wedding, with so much jewellery and make-up (Actually that bullshit make-up made them look like middle-aged harlots…………really).

Their garrulous talks continued………

“This heat is ruining my make-up. Do you know how much this mascara costs?? Its made-in-Australia.” One of them said.

“Yeah I know, the rates are so high. I mean how can the rates of life essential commodities be so high??”

Mascara……….Life essential??
What The ****!!!

They both continued.

“My husband is very generous, you know. He is very keen in donating stuff. So, I am donating thousand rupees. How much are you offering?”

“Same here. I think, it is up to us rich people to donate and stuff like that. I mean, lower middle-class people don’t donate, let alone poor people”.

I just couldn’t take it any more.
So I turned away my head. I started to search for some entertainment.
And instantly, I found it.

I saw a small girl walking on a tight rope, high above the ground. Her walk, with a bamboo in her hands for balancing, was quite rhythmic.


There was another performer too, probably her brother, who thrilled the passers-by with his mastery over the skills in gymnastics.

The ease with which both the kids were displaying their skills made me wonder why India lags behind in Gymnastics at the Olympics.

At the end of their road-side show, the two kids started moving from person to person to collect the money.

The reality now started to creep in that for these impoverished children that wasn’t a Gymnastic routine. It was their bread, sans butter.

I realized the queue was now much shorter, rather only 7-8 people were remaining. Those performing kids made me forget all the surroundings.

Finally, it was my turn after close to two hours.
I handed the amount, the person collecting the money handed the receipt.

I started towards my bike. Suddenly these two kids appeared again.
I thought they were about to start the new show.

But they moved past me, towards the donation camp.
The girl handed a note of 20 Rupees to the cashier.

Baffled, I inquired with the person at the camp.

He said “For the past 6 days these kids are performing in front of the crowd and at the end of the show they hand over 20 Rupees everyday to me as a contribution to the Uttarakhand victims. These kids don’t even know where Uttarakhand is. All they know is that there are kids of their age in Uttarakhand, and right now they are in far worse condition than them”.

I realized that you don’t have to earn millions to donate, the only thing you need is heart.

I just wondered which one of these was the real India?
The one that so-called rich, jewellery-flashing, bullshit-talking women represented or the compassionate India that those kids represent.

The one that our ever-quarrelling politicians (who try to make headlines and garner support even in tragedies like the one just happened in Uttarakhand) represent??

Or the India that is represented by selfless Indian Army that saved thousands of lives in the tragedy, without caring a bit about themselves??

It’s time for the answers…………

The Monsoon Saga

I just don’t get these people……………..

I really hate to see those grim-faced idiots when it starts raining.
Sometimes, when it rains, people frown because according to them it makes their umbrellas wet!!!
Yes, literally. I mean what in the world are umbrellas made for??

For me, I just love rains………

When the first few drops of water fall from the heaven, the aroma it creates………..mystical.
It can compete with the best perfumes in the world.

Rain has always been subject of my fascination since I was a little kid.

For me, as a kid, the first day of the school was the hardest…………..and the happiest.
Trying to balance my weight, with backpack and the wet umbrella in one hand…………in a running bus.
A real circus.

When the whole world says “Rain Rain Go Away“, we Indians echo Ye Re Ye Re Pausa ( meaning Oh Rain Come Along ).
I mean, wouldn’t it be awesome for Johnny to play in the rains???
We used to play in the muddy water, completely drenched in rain( I still do it sometimes! )

Mom used to shout at me furiously.

The aftermath??? ……………….No prizes for guessing this one correct. The running nose.

And those homemade medicines ( Mom-made actually!! ) tasted as if cyanide was a better substitute.

And the thundering that would send chills down the spine…….

Those unused notebooks pages………. we used to tear secretly to make the paper boats of different sizes. And the joy of seeing them floating on the rain water …………..magical.
I bet most of you, reading this one probably did that too.

Those moments when I used to reach home after heavy rains and mom used to hand me a cup of tea, and the aroma of the snacks ( pakode especially!!) would tease my taste buds. Ahhhh……….It makes me feel nostalgic.

The puddles of water everywhere, the greenery, the rice fields, farmers working rigorously in the fields have mesmerized me on countless occasions.

The Gulmohar ( Royal Poinciana or Flamboyant ) standing on the roadside is as usual charismatic. The raindrops on the leaves sparkled liked diamonds when the sunrays kissed them gently.

The climate during the rains is just soothing and refreshing……..both to the body and mind.
I feel I am really blessed that I was born in a state which comes under the heavy rainfall category.

And the most important thing that I love about the rains is the romance that it stirs in me……………..

In my teens ( or for that matter most of you did ), I used to dream that someday WE will be walking down the street in a single umbrella during heavy rains!!! That’s the ultimate romantic thing for me.
Like the “pyar hua ikraar hua hai” kinda romance. Bollywood style……….
Bollywood has churned out some iconic rain-romance sequences. And the greatest of them all is “pyar hua ikraar hua hai”.

After so many years, nothing has changed much………not really.

Well, I am still single ( Those interested can message on or better contact me on 94044372**…….keep guessing) and I still dream about getting cozy under the umbrella with that special one.

Those home-made medicines still suck big time.

And the old classic Hindi songs still touch my soul ( those songs somehow tend to be more romantic in monsoon!!!).

There are some minute changes though.

Well, I am not a kid anymore or so I think!!!

Those snacks, pakodas that mom prepared are now sometimes replaced by 2-minute Maggi noodles ( 2-minute??? Impossible!!! ) or may be sometimes with unhealthy, not-so-good junk stuff.

Number of children making paper boats with their tiny hands and longing to see their boat floating on water to eternity is shrinking monsoon by monsoon.

And well, ever busy people (like all of us) partly due to their hectic, tiresome schedule, who sometimes don’t even remember when was the last time they submitted themselves completely to the rain.

So people, I urge you to get out of your house this monsoon. Take out time from your busy schedule.
Go, get yourselves drenched in the rain. Just relive those special moments, which you were once dying for.

Find that special one with whom you can share your umbrella affectionately.

But till then listen to this beautiful song by Jagjit Singh:

ye daulat bhi le lo, ye shoharat bhi le lo
bhale chhin lo mujhse meri javani
magar mujhko lauta do bachapan ka saavan
vo kagaz ki kashti, vo barish ka pani

(Which roughly means: Take away the money, take away the glow of the youth, instead return my childhood, the paper boats and the monsoons)

Happy Father’s Day Mom

The clock ticked…………
It displayed 6 in the evening. It was time to leave the office.

Shobha hurriedly gathered all the documents from the table and tossed them into the drawer. She grabbed her purse and moved swiftly to the lift. She heard someone calling out her name.

It was her boss. He said “Thanks. Thank you for working on Sunday. I’ll make sure you get the comp off (complimentary off).

She nodded with a smile, turned her back to him and entered the lift.
She cursed the boss. Though she always admired him, she was quite frustrated today. It was 16th of June. Akshay’s birthday. He was leaving for Chennai next month to pursue higher studies.

She really wanted to spend time with him today.

But then, boss had called her last night and told to come to the office today. Akshay was quite upset.

She got out of the lift, bade a goodbye to the watchman and crossed the street. She walked for a couple of minutes and reached Monginis,  Akshay’s favourite cake shop and bought a chocolate brownie.

Within 5 minutes Shobha was boarding the bus.

To her surprise, she got the window seat. As the bus gathered the speed, Shobha’s mind raced too……………but in backward direction.

15 years back……….
On that fateful day, her world had collapsed. Her dreams had shattered. She had lost her husband in an accident. Akshay was just 5 then.

No doubt she was devastated. It did felt like the end of the world.
But then she had to live…….she had to live for her kid.

Akshay’s questions regarding his father had always troubled her.

His open days in school, where everybody brought both the parents, were the hardest moments.
While growing up, Akshay was a very nice kid, an obedient one. He had grasped the fact very early on that his mother was going through lot of hardships.

He had never troubled her financially. Whenever his school picnic was announced, he used to give some or the other reason to his friends. He never complained to his mother regarding the tattered conditions of his books.

Shobha felt blessed that she had a son who really cared for her, really understood her. She had always thought that she didn’t do enough for her kid. She always felt guilty that she couldn’t give the resources to Akshay that other parents gave their children.

The series of thoughts was broken by the shouting bus conductor. She regained her composure and searched for the change in her purse but couldn’t find it. So she gave a 50 Rupees note; to which the conductor frowned and murmured. But today she was in no mood to quarrel with him.

Dark cloud filled the sky. It was about to rain. She got down from the bus at her stop and walked towards her building. She knew that he would be still upset but was sure she can make things normal. After all, as they say, you cannot be upset with your loved ones for a long time.

She reached home, the door was locked. The neighbour told her that Akshay went out with his friends. So she opened it with a spare key. She kept the lock aside and drank some water. But something caught her eye, something that rested on the table………….a piece of paper. She opened it. It read

Dear Mom,

I was very young, almost an infant, when Dad passed away.
But later, at every point in my life you played the role of both father and mother and that too rather convincingly and with ease.
You never made me feel that I didn’t have a father.
For me, you are my mother, and father as well.
It is true that a child needs both the parents.
But from what I have seen, a mother can enact the roles of both the parents much better than what a father can attempt.
So, Happy Father’s Day Mom.

Though it was Akshay’s birthday, Shobha got the present……………one of the best presents she got in her life.
It started raining…………….both outside as well as inside.

P.S. This year, Father’s Day was celebrated on 16th June.

My First Post

Hello Guys………..
It’s been quite a some time now that I am thinking of writing a blog. And finally I am here writing MY FIRST BLOG!!!( Butterflies in the stomach ).
I don’t know what your reaction will be, but still I am making an attempt( hope it won’t be a suicidal one though ). I just want to enjoy each and every moment of being “the new kid on the block“.

Lets go back in time…say 2-3 years. During my engineering I did participate in quizzes (I guess it is probably the only and the best thing which I did during the college time). Once we(me and my partner) participated in a quiz but lost in the preliminaries. We were really disappointed because we lost to cheaters. Ego hurt!!! We went to the organizers, asked them about this. The main organizer was a guy named Amey Parsekar, our senior. That was my first meeting with this guy. He told us that he saw what had happened and that arrangements were made so that it won’t affect the finals. And indeed the CHEATERS didn’t win.

Last year, once again I met Amey. Reason…….The quiz, again . Since he passed out from our college and joined prestigious Goa Institute of Management(GIM), we both were rivals this time around. Result……..A close finish, they won and we came second. After the quiz, we chatted for an hour or so. In this whole process, I got to know how his path to the GIM was obstructed by financial hindrances; when all seemed lost, how his friends arranged the fee amount(2-3 lakhs I think), how the banks initially refused him to pass the loan and loads of other things. The term “friend” all of a sudden sounded like Almighty’s.

This year, my brother got admission in GIM. And for the reference I took Amey’s contact number. My bro spoke to him regarding the college, the admission process and lot of other things. And my bro also told him that the scene for us was more or less similar to his path (The first installment, this year was 4 lakhs and I guess it’s a huge amount for any middle-class family). Amey offered us an amount of Rs. 25000 and told that once he started working he’ll give even more. My bro thanked him and informed that the financial arrangements were somehow already done. But the most important thing was the moral support, someone convincing you that it’s OK, this is just a phase that will pass away, everything will be alright in the end.Some days later, Amey called and told my bro that he got the job offer letter and now that he has a job, he is willing to help my bro with all the monthly expenses while doing MBA. I don’t know, but a couple of seconds later I felt something, something that came out as slight moistness in my eyes.

This entire episode was really very emotional for me, my bro( idiot wont admit that he was about to burst into tears.),my family. After all, I barely knew this guy. I mean 4-5 meetings doesn’t impose any compulsion on you. And helping your friend’s bro, in this case is really GREAT. In these times, when people are really busy with their own lives and have no time for others, this was a complete myth-buster. In this highly complex world, humanity still exists. Amey’s words give me new enthusiasm, a different outlook towards society. We might not recognize it sometimes, but the society helps us in numerous ways. And its our responsibility to help back, at least return a fractional piece of what the society gives us. One always remains in debt to society.