Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Bombay girl who loves Delhi

You are allowed to frown. Because I have got used to it.

"Delhi? Why? Who moves from Bombay to Delhi? Are you insane? No girl can like Delhi because its so unsafe, think about your decision. You are sure to hate it once you move there."

Reactions from well-wishers back home.

"A Bombay girl choosing to move to Delhi? Really? That's rare? I'm sure you may not be liking it as much. Delhi has a lot of issues which don't exist in Bombay."

My introductions here are incomplete without the above reactions.

Thank you for the concerns but if you just pause for a moment, which city in India doesn't have issues? There is not a single town in this country that has given a safety assurance ever - tourism boards will never be able to take that pitch for a campaign in this country.

For me, it is not about a Bombay (yes, I am a true blue Bombay girl who shall never address it in any other way except official communication at work maybe) or a Delhi.

It is about the way we think. I have met so many people who have never been to a city like this and already have strong opinions - "Delhi is such a sick place. I'm never gonna visit that place. It is so unsafe for women."All thanks to their exposure to news channels & friends who have nothing better to tell them.

It's time to open our minds to attract a new outlook towards the way we perceive everything around us. We have become SO TYPICAL. Scared of taking risks. Enjoying a world in the safety net even if we are dying each day inside that feeling trapped. To be spotted in the hippest of places to prove how cool we are even if we have no interest in what's going on there.

It's time to listen to our gut more than the people around us. It's time to make new mistakes. It's time to live a new life that is waiting to tell you "how wrong you were about some of your preconceived notions."

And as far as Delhi is concerned, it's time to scratch the surface a little more to find that jackpot of an experience that Bombay alone may not have managed for me.

AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, Delhi has winters. Come visit me soon :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Idol. My Grandfather

This is a little story that I have been wanting to share since a long time now. It’s special, very close to my heart, something that makes my heart swell with pride and brings the widest smile. And the hero of this story is My Idol. My Grandfather.

His name was Bhalchandra Ambadas Haldipur. We all fondly called him Daddy.

The ONLY person I have ever been scared of. And that fear came from the immense respect I had for him, for the school of discipline he belonged to. I was all of 10 when Daddy passed away in 1992 but the memories that he has left behind as a result of his deep-rooted values and beliefs, charming personality, the aura he created when he was with his family and friends, his tongue-in-cheek humour in the most difficult times, his last words to me - are all nuggets that help me move on and lead a life in all its fullness.

This is why he is special -

He joined the Bombay City Police in 1939 as Sub-inspector and retired in 1975 as the Deputy Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

Thoroughly “clean” and incorruptible, he was known for his tireless and thorough investigations, and fearless drive against crime during his hectic career spanning 36 years in the Police Force. Whether working in the Crime Branch or Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), he remained a courageous, fearless crime-fighter who led his men from the front.

He was forced to leave his studies midway and join the Police Force. But he went on to become a successful Police Officer of his time and won accolades for his achievements when he was awarded the President’s Police Medal in 1956 and the President’s Police & Fire Service Medal in 1975.

My grandmom has always had interesting tales to tell us about the way he worked and one of my favourite anecdotes is the way he nabbed two of Mahatma Gandhi’s killers – Narayan Apte and Vishnu Karkare in 1948. What set him apart in his investigation procedures was a set of sketches he drew during his chase and trial of the killers.

Sifting through the album containing yellowish sheets of these sketches, my grandmom would go on to say, “Daddy was part of the special cell to trace Gandhiji’s assassins. A team set out to scour the country for the absconders soon after January 30th, 1948. And he was asked to track Apte and Karkare, two of the co-conspirators of Nathuram Godse in the assassination. He was posted in the Red Fort, Delhi during the entire trial period. He drew images of whoever he met – be it the then DSP of Delhi , a sub-inspector at Gwalior, a Pune tailor or an IAF official, for record. During the chase, for weeks he did not come home, and we didn’t know where he was. (You’ll are lucky to live in the day and age of mobile phones. I wish I had some such help to avoid the sleepless nights wondering where he is and how is he.) He survived on raw eggs and followed the two from Gwalior to Ahmednagar (their hometown). During the days, he would go hunting for both, with guns and during the nights, he sketched those he met or interrogated, with pencils. The day Apte and Karkare checked into Pyrkes Apollo Hospital near Regal Cinema in South Mumbai under assumed names, Daddy finally nabbed them after waiting there for them for seven hours.”

Besides this, he was a key official in the Justice Kapur Commission set up by the Govt. Of India to investigate into various events leading to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

During the completion of 150 years of Mumbai Police Commissionerate, he was declared as one of the most important Police Officers from the Mumbai Police division to have significantly contributed to the country in the immediate post-independence era.

And this wasn’t it. There was more to him.

A body builder. A Pole Vault Gold medalist at the National Olympics in 1940. A multi-linguist (he had passed three examinations in Urdu while in service). Started the Annual Ganesh Chathurthi festival at Santacruz Police Station. One of the founder members of the Senior Citizens’ Club of Bombay. A music and instrument buff. A sincere friend. A loving husband, father and grandfather. And beyond all, a selfless and modest man.

He never discussed his work at home or spoke about his achievements and never let anyone promote him either. All he said was, “I am working for the public and not for publicity.”

He is the real cool dude who won hearts at work and in life for his discipline at a time when there was no media, no PROs, no unnecessary tamaasha.

If I had a time machine, I would have had only one wish – more time with Daddy but I’m glad I have no such privilege because he would have only been disheartened to live and watch the country go to dogs today as far as corruption and discipline are concerned.

For now, all I have to say is Happy 95th Birthday Daddy.

We miss you!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

just little things that i love

thoughtful gestures; smiling faces; late night coffee & conversations; midnight chai at carter's; the sight of the highway, early in the morning; nip in the air; when beer makes people bond; when the door bell rings and I see friends who have made a surprise visit; the first sip of my morning tea; underneath an open night sky, the sound of waves at a shore; walking with my music and coffee giving me company; waking up early to reach the airport; long train journeys; when I'm untraceable while travelling; spacious green parks; the aroma of coffee; nutella crepes; an english breakfast; going through old photographs, looking at our silly, ugly dark ages and laughing howlariously; when a smile makes people bond; when crazy, stupid ideas make people bond; when awkward moments make people bond; mom's food; dad's reaction while watching india lose a cricket match; mom & dad discussing a saas-bahu show over their phone conversations; brother tuning/ playing his instruments that remind me of the weekend having begun; the me-time with casper;singing with rajiv & nameeta on our drives together; digging out lyrics to match the mood of the day; everyday making people laugh through silly bbm jokes;thinking of more things to add to this list and so on :)

its very easy to make a list of things we hate. when was the last time, you made a list of things you love which make each day worth living?

Friday, July 29, 2011

To me or not to me!

We all love reading words of inspiration. And then there are deep, awe-invoking, insightful thoughts that add a certain extra zing that make it worth sharing. Like these few words of sunshine written by a friend which I just discovered:

Respect... Persevere... Think...
Opine... Don't Impose...
Ideate... Let others too...
Perceive... Don't judge...
Sift... Don't need everyone...
Look behind... Learn...
Look ahead... Venture...
Fail again...
Fail better... Learn...
Kill... Weed out...
Fly... But stay rooted...
It's a new journey all the time...
Don't forget where you first came from...
Lead... Follow... Guide... Step back...
You aren't ever entirely right...
Nobody's ever entirely wrong...
You are not as good as some... You are better than most...
Be the bigger man...
Forgive... Don't forget...
You can't repay everyone... For everything they give you...
Don't try too hard to...
Learn to be inferior... Will help you be superior...
Look eye to eye to all...
Don't look down upon yourself or anyone else...
Look up... To learn... To dream... To sunshine...
Laugh... Don't hesitate or hold back...
Cry... Don't hesitate or hold back...
Your pain is singly yours...
Learn to deal with it...
Love people that love you unconditionally... Learn...
Love always leaves you with something...
Don't invest...
Effort, time, money or yourself into quarters that yield not
You are loved... You are hated...
Don't try to change the world view... You can't...
Just be... Do what you have to...

Hold your head high... You are bloody good!

- Sagnik Mukherjee

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cycling Silk anyone?

Remember Kate Harris?

A while ago I had written about this super-awesome-lady that I had the good fortune of meeting some months ago.

And why do I idolise her? For her fortitude, strong grip over her independence, her sense of perspective and above all, her humility - all that were put to test when she started her misiion to cycle along the Silk Route.

When I met her, she had only completed one stretch of the Route. And now she along with her friend is in the midst of the year-long Cycling Silk expedition across Istanbul, Afghanistan and the dotted line finishing in the northern parts of India. I am following her expedition closely and hope to meet her when she is in India by the year end.

And I know that many friends who enjoy cycling would also love to know more about her.

So here you go - Cycling Silk.

Have fun :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Faith Market

An interesting observation from my recent Rajasthan trip has been playing on my mind.

This trip to Ajmer and Pushkar was more of a spiritual sojourn for me than wanting to just see some popular tourist attractions. Some friends and umpteen blogs had given me enough dope on the do's and don'ts while taking this trip, especially while visiting the Ajmer-e-Sharif Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. Since the initial plan was to travel all by myself, I just wanted to be a bit more careful, so my research I thought had prepared me well.

Only on reaching Ajmer and while walking on the main street leading to the Dargah, I witnessed something that I wasn't prepared for that took me by a very pleasant surprise. Selfless help.

(But all the while, my mind kept wandering about how people seem very helpful in some of these touristy places and then at the end, quote their fees while parting ways. This mindset stopped me from depending on what these shopkeepers were sharing with us including their stories of the Dargah. In a loop, I kept telling myself ''I don't need any help. I have done my research well and I can manage on my own.")

So we finally entered the Dargah premises and one after the other, there were these young boys showing us around the significant spots and leading us to the main shrine. We discouraged them and thought they were guides looking at earning some quick bucks. Not realising that they were all a part of some kind of a relay race in taking visitors to the shrine and then just vanished in the huge crowd after someone else took over their job. This didnt end here. Inside the shrine, someone who I thought was a qazi was actually a volunteer who guided us to another destination within the premises for donations, waited till we finished, helped us solve our curiosity about the Dargah's history and again, just disappeared.

On our way back, the shopkeepers from whom we had bought the flowers still charged us only Rs 15 and with a warm smile parted ways by saying "Hope your prayers get answered."

Cut 2 - We reach Pushkar in half an hour and head to the Pushkar lake and offer our prayers through a small puja. Now comes the next surprise -
Priest - "How much would you like to offer?"
Me -''Rs 100."
Priest (with a surprised look) -"100? We have donations of three kinds ranging from Rs 1100 to Rs 5000. Aap Shraddha se jo dena chahein, woh aapki marzi".
So I quickly retorted, "100 rupay mein bhi bahut shraddha hai" and
Priest quickly replies "Lekin yeh bahut kam hai."

However, I still managed to offer what I wanted to and left.

Two distinct situations are just a few kilometeres away from each other. If only faith wasn't so marketable.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A rollercoaster 2010!

2010 was a crazy year.

And amongst many other things, what made this craziness more memorable and worth every penny, time and effort spent, was when I discovered my love for adventure sports like never before. Whether jumping off a cliff, trekking through the Himalayas, rafting in the Ganges, from cycling in the bylanes of my Bandra to enjoying a cycling expedition in the wee hours of a wintery Delhi morning over a stretch of over 50 kms, to keeping quiet for 10 days and discovering an interesting new side of life at a Vipassana course (yes-this is no less than an adventure), I couldn't have added more adrenaline rush to the year.

At the Valley of Flowers

Call it the love for testing my endurance level or fighting challenges, adventure sports shall for sure be my favourite lover for this decade. When jumping off a plane flying 15,000 feet high is a constant dream, this life makes complete sense.

And while weaving such adventurous dreams, when you meet like-minded enthusiasts, life seems on the right track. A dear friend dragged me along for a workshop organised by the Himalayan Club (started by world-renowned Himalayan trekker Harish Kapadia) promising me an interesting Sunday. Thank God that I didn't let my laziness precede over my decision of subjecting myself to a breathtaking experience. The reason was Kate Harris. A nomad who lives only to travel across the 'borderless world' (as she puts it). A rebel to those who imagine money to be the most important facet of travelling, she turned the tables around by adopting the most economical and eco-friendly mode of transport - 'cycling' to travel. A path not new but still, chosen only by the daredevils.

A young girl who learnt cycling in 2006, went ahead to follow her heart and cycled across the Silk Route fighting treachorous weather conditions, rough terrains besides setting a joyful ride in to a 'life-transforming' example for many. Like me. And to interact with this humble soul was a cherry on the cake. Even if I achieve half of her energy and determination, it shall mean - asking for a trip to the space in this lifetime. That's the effect Kate has had on me ever since I have met her. Nothing seems impossible!

I wish I meet a Kate Harris each year -

Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good fortune;
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Strong and content, I travel the open road.

Allons! the road is before us!

It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well.
Allons! be not detain’d!
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!

-Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road

Paragliding, Bungee Jumping, Skydiving, Scuba diving (and swimming before that), Cycling expedition to the Sahyadris, Sailing, Trekking to the Everest Base Camp - these are just a few dreams to conquer in this lifetime. Hope I make it!