Category Archives: Random

Ramzan & me

Ramzan or Ramadhan, whichever way you like it – I prefer Ramzan after learning that Ramadhan is a Saudi import and am not a big fan of the influence that place has had on Islam – is unlike any other months of the Islamic calendar, literally and otherwise. The beauty of the ninth month of the lunar calendar, is that you start looking out for it months in advance – ok three months for Ramzan, two months, Ramzan is only a week away; partly with a sense of anticipation and partly with dread. Of all the practices that Islam has, fasting is something that I relate to quite a bit, inspite of it being one of the most demanding one.

The way I look at it, and I am sure we all at some point find our own meanings while pursuing religious practises, it is the month of discipline – where by sheer force of will you tide over so many things. While on a normal day, even though you are stuffed, you still can’t resist the fragrance of a freshly fried bhajiya; during Ramzan, you somehow find it within you to whizz past it – maybe with some help from visualizing the sufra (the tablecloth on which sumptuous eatables are kept) that awaits you during iftaari !

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Ramzan, to me, brings back beautiful childhood memories. As a kid I wanted to fast – maybe as a means to be counted as an adult, something which rather foolishly most children want – and would convince my mother every night to wake me up for sehri (the pre-dawn meal), cause without that there would be no fasting. The way I would know she was ‘conning’ me was when she would agree to wake me up and not ask me before sleeping what I would eat for sehri. Just before she would go to sleep, my class 5 angry self would approach her with the swagger of a cop who spots a person walking suspiciously on a deserted street in the night and ask: so why didn’t you ask me what I will eat for sehri? It means you aren’t waking me up and I am not fasting. I would then go to sleep with a huff.

Don’t ask about the delight on days that I would find myself awake for sehri. Having a breakfast with all family members at that hour was like being allowed entry in a privileged club meant only for adults.

After waking up, for the first half of the day, you don’t even begin calculating, knowing well that the counting will throw up a number that you wouldn’t particularly like. I think it’s around 5 o’clock, when, with a slightly heavy head, the sense of anticipation begins. Another highlight of the fast, is the final few moments before Iftaar (evening meal when the fast is ended), when you have actually conquered the day, but the last few minutes, knowing their importance quite well, will amble along leisurely. Also no matter what’s on the menu, there is no place like home for iftar. Just the pure unrushed serenity that ensures you end the fast not all at once but enjoy every moment, you’ve waited all day.

Here again, the key to iftar is to not declare an all out war on food/water, no matter how thirsty or hungry you are. My amateur self (I’m really making it sound like a life skill) would at times gulp down a few glasses of water as soon as it was time and the hunger just vanished and I’d feel so stupid. The right way of doing iftar – oh yes over the years I believe there is a right way – is to go real slow even though all your instincts want you to not bother going for the spoon and directly attack the utensils.

As roza’s pass by, my mind again tilts towards mathematics. It starts – I rather shamefully admit – right after the third fast is complete. Without exception, every year after the third fast, some part of my head displays this: 1/10th over. This is how it usually pans out:

5 days – 1/6th over

6 days – 1/5th over

10 days – 1/3rd over (WHOA)

12 days – 4/10th over (its true)

15 days – ½ over (super whoa)

And now, things start getting a bit slow just like the moments before iftaar and I give up on calculations till day 27 (9/10th) and then well Eid Mubarak :D. Pudhcha varshi lavkar ya

courtesy: rubriker.tk

courtesy: rubriker.tk

The socket hunters

So the other day I go to this restaurant and realizing the slow and painful (more on that later) death my phone is going through. I rush to the hotel owner with this you-have-to-save-me look and ask him if there is a socket using which I could charge my mobile phone. He smiled and gave me that oh-I-get-this- so-many-times-its-not-funny look before pointing towards a socket hidden behind a fridge, almost invisible, maybe deliberately so.

I think our smart phones (which maybe are not as smart after what they are turning us into) are turning us into a generation of socket hunters. Ok I may be succumbing to hyperbole here but it seems – at least to me- every second person I meet is afflicted by this ‘I have low battery’ syndrome. While if you search online, you will find scores of articles about how the next smart phone should ensure it has good battery life, something desperately (more or less) missing from most smart phones these days. They are adding apps, games and other (relatively unimportant features), but when it comes to the thumb rule of a mobile being able to last longer, they are screwing it up. (ok diversion, random ranting)

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So you try to ‘instill the habit’ of charging your phone first thing you get up in the morning but as far as its execution goes, your guess is as good as mine. On most days after you leave home, in the first few minutes for sure, you realize the battery life, on a lucky day, is somewhere around 60 per cent. And then those damn calculations begin. Ok no music, data off; or maybe no music, data on; no music data on but 3G off and so on and so forth. There better you get technology, the more permutations and combinations you have and thereby more confusion.

No matter what you do, on most days, and following Murphy’s law, the most important days, as you are maybe headed back to office, it is a race against how much (battery) your phone sucks and how quickly you can locate the next socket. (As I do not use a portable battery charger that is not an option. Have to still make up my mind on that front). And that is when the phone begins to die a slow (and extremely painful for your mental health) death and along with the battery starts sucking your blood. Kala Ghoda: battery life 10 per cent, check; Marine Lines 8 per cent check; Elphinstone road 6 per cent check; all this amidst being cautious that you do not check it too many times lest: it drains your battery.

Finally you reach office and recharge your phone. On most occasions all sockets in the office would be occupied and according to a CHDS survey (these are made up these days right?) or an exit poll ( since we are in election season) on a particular day you will meet atleast two persons who are looking around wide eyed (and visible stress) for that elusive unoccupied charging point, that socket to resuscitate their mobile back to life. The statistic will go to three a day, in case you are counting yourself.

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PS: Not a bad thought to start charging for charging points.

The joys of anticipation

I was making up my mind about the subject of my blog today when this topic, one that I have often meditated upon, sprung up into consciousness: the joys of anticipation. The topic seems apt for me as there is much being anticipated at this stage: a dear friend’s wedding coupled with a chance to meet up some old friends and then the big one: a trip to North-East India, something long pined for.

If there was some scientific method to track the times when I have been the most excited in my life, I am sure the several moments leading upto something that I was looking forward to would form a major chunk of it. Yes that’s the thing. Not the event/thing in itself, but the moments leading upto it. It is always the anticipation of something fun, the build up to it that is ironically so much more exciting than the actual thing may be on several occasions.

I still remember this one time in school, when I could barely contain my excitement knowing that an Australia versus South Africa – two cricketing giants I wanted to see pitted against each other since long– was underway. I remember gazing at my wristwatch constantly. Even though a boring lecture was in progress, the prospect of Aus vs SA match awaiting me at home infused enough excitement in me to last out two consecutive Science II periods, my definition of severe frustration at that age, with stoicism that would make a Zen master proud.

The thought of an interesting match awaiting you or the fact that your dad has got movie tickets for later in the day (miss that excitement to go to a cinema hall) were more than enough to make my day. The movies could turn out to be duds and the match boring one-sided contests (although unlikely given the stubborn opponents), but even then they had accomplished what they were meant to. They had set the tone for the day or if I was lucky days. And here I have not even mentioned the unparalleled excitement that enveloped me on the night before the school picnic. I am sure the excitement that did not let me sleep before the picnic was never superseded by the picnic itself.

And as I have grown up, while the things that excited me and the extent to which they did, have changed, the anticipation theory still holds true for me and my guess is most of us. Meeting friends at the end of the day is enough fuel to last out a bad work day and the thought of some yet to be seen episodes of The Big Bang Theory can lighten up the grumpiness in my mood. And this has convinced me that real excitement is as much in the anticipation of something and in looking back at it with fondness (hopefully will blog about it separately), as it is in the very heart of the thing.

While the flip side of too much anticipation is that the actual thing may leave one slightly underwhelmed. However, since I am on the anticipation end of things, I’d rather tilt towards the earlier paragraphs. I shall be underwhelmed at the moment when I have to, but currently I’d rather revel in the anticipation phase.

PS: See you on the looking back phase of my trip with a few travel blogs in tow. Wish me luck 🙂

The mobile hypnosis

So the other day I read a headline in a newspaper, a headline that I had half guessed I might read someday. ‘San Francisco Train Passengers Too Distracted By Phones To Notice Shooter’s Gun In Plain Sight’ the headline read. A young person was murdered, rather shot dead, in a train coach that had a dozen people who were too engrossed in their cell phones’ to notice the blood on the floor.(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/08/san-francisco-train-shooting_n_4066930.html)

While travelling with friends in train coaches/buses that have so many commuters immersed in their phones, I have so often, with the air of a this-generation-is-so-stoopid spewing old uncle, pointed out and bemoaned this habit of people being engrossed in their cell phones completely. They seem to be transported to some different world that amongst other things has subways to surf and candies to crush.

At times, I am tempted to join in the disdainful expressions of fellow travelers, who contort their faces in disapproving looks at the sight of a commuter smile to his mobile phone and look all coy, somehow hypnotized by it. Someone could pull out the ground beneath his feet, but this dude will not slip out of his communication epiphany.

While initially I was on the self righteous pedestal, I later realized a lot these guys are commuters travelling the same distance everyday and while I still was not a fanboy, but I was no longer a member of the disdainful contortionists. And then breaking bad happened to me – literally and metaphorically – and I found myself watching it on my mobile while travelling thereby traversing to the other side of this mobile besotted spectrum. But then thankfully, I keep moving up and down the spectrum and ensure my feet are firmly placed on the firmament, lest someone pull it off.

So I tried of find out what exactly did I dislike about it, I mean there were no obvious reasons apart from maybe realizing 15 minutes later that you co commuter has journeyed to the other world. The main reason I think is I somehow associate it with some kind of robotic monotony, like somehow you are missing out on the world around, some sort of disconnect with the actual world. Like you work, sleep, eat, and the time you could have for yourself, you program yourself to spend with your mobile phone.

But those that I think deserve a special place in hell along with those who send stupid candy crush invites – I hope some who have sent me the invites are reading this- are those who go out for a picnic, someplace they may or may not return, but would still be engrossed in their mobiles all the time. My problem is with the last three words.

Another slightly unrelated and admittedly romanticized thing that makes me uneasy is how unbridled use of mobiles has killed the fine art of waiting. I sometimes fear what I would do if I had to wait for over half an hour and do not have articles to read online or check my twitter feed. It almost seems like another era when people did not have mobile phones and you could not call a friend to ask where he/she was. (However considering the punctuality standards of some friends, I may be able to live with the unease.)

So the other day, while I was waiting at a railway station for a friend for like 15 minutes, I thought let me put my money where my mouth is. So I resisted the urge to pull out my mobile phone and just sat and looked around. And by the end of 15 minutes just before the friend arrived, I thought, what the heck, I can blog about this.