6

The LAST BENCH

The LAST BENCH…

It was the start of summer of 1997, and I had successfully completed sixth standard and got myself admitted in seventh. Usually the session began from April and all the new admission happened by then…but there were a few who would join the session a bit late sometimes in May and some even later than that after the summer vacations got over.

Our class had a rotation system, in which every row of student got to sit in the front row once in a week. By then most of the class knew my ways…I had the last row just to myself…with no one ever asking me to rotate.

The Place where it all began

The Place where it all began – Image Ref: Neha Uttam Kumar (www.craftoon.in)

It was a sunny morning and we had returned to our classes after the morning prayers. My south Indian Class Teacher who happened to be our English teacher was taking the roll calls. She had reached midway only…when a female voice interrupted her, ‘Ma’am!! May I come in’? She was another of those late admissions. Hardly had I known then that this girl would turn out to be one of closest friends I’ll have for two decades. (Yeah you heard it right…TWO DECADES).

‘Ma’am!! May I come in’, she asked for the permission again. The sound of a girl’s voice was more than enough for all the students to gaze towards the entrance especially the boys from all the rows…from first to last…and hence my vision was also scanning her. The first thing I noticed (which I remember) was her free flowing golden brown hair on an unusually tall girl for a seventh grade. Modern would be the wrong word to use here, as she looked more urbane than others. When the length of other girl’s skirts tip toed with their matching socks’ she stood out with just knee length ones. Her tall, waxed (I should not mention here but was uncommon in those days) legs added to the allure.

The teacher gave her permission to enter the class. She got her name registered in the attendance register and started looking for a place to sit. Unfortunately for her the girl’s row was full (Yeah we had a separate girls row  ) and Fortunately for me I was the only one sitting on my Last bench. She walked between the girls and the boys’ row and everyone from the first seat to the last followed her with their salivating stare till she reached my bench. I was no dud either but never…ever had any girl asked me, whether she can sit next to me…and hence with my unprepared nervous look…I nodded. That’s how my last bench friendship started…

The girl with the brown hair - Image ref - and-beautiful-blue-drawing-favim-com-1624755.jpg

The girl with the brown hair – Image ref – and-beautiful-blue-drawing-favim-com-1624755.jpg

She came across as a brat to me and would carry the fanciest of things you could imagine…from glitter pens to different type of colorful pencils…from unusual hairpins to…colored covers for the notebooks. There was a child in her who decided never to grow up even to this day. She was careless at times…was extremely pampered and amusingly clumsy with things and at times with herself too. The more I got to know her…the lesser that feeling got, ‘where it was a big thing to sit next to a girl’ and in no time we were like buddies and had our gang.
Giver her height, she took the utmost advantage of it…she was an athlete and played a lot of sports. When other girls were busy chitchatting and playing stupid games she would be around us on the field or on the basketball court. This made our bond stronger. Whether it was recess or sports period or just chatting in the canteen we were everywhere.

All this gave a tomboyish feel to her. There would be occasions when we would be standing in the canteen and she would have her arm around my shoulder and it was the onlookers which made me realize that it’s time to take that arm off from there. She hardly gave a damn about those kind of people and that was the most likable thing for me in her. She knew what was good to her and always followed that…though that can’t be said for the bad ones.

Slowly the standards n years passed…the gang got bigger…and we were something BIG back in those days. From academics to extra-curricular…from dance to sports…from good to bad…our group had a presence.

I was always worried for her as she was a bad judge of friends…she was very poor in knowing people’s intentions behind their smiling faces. And more often than not she ended up in tears…which infuriated me a lot.

At times she found scoring marks a little hard in the science subjects and hence opted for commerce stream as our sections changed. She found new friends…newer interests…and newer connections. Our time together lessened…some of the recesses went in just waiting for her…and soon the group began to decrease in size. Meeting her on rare occasions…seeing her happy…enjoying and having fun with her buddies…made me realize that it was in her best interest that we don’t force her to join us.

Though we were still in the same school but the last two years passed with the minimal of interaction between both of us. We knew we were still good friends…she knew I would be there for her every time she needs my help and the same was for me…but sadly the ‘fizz’ was gone from the bond.

As it happens in most of the cases the people who were best buddies in their school time…hardly are in touch after that. The same happened with us. We both were busy pursuing our own bachelors in different cities…we hardly spoke leave alone meeting, as the era of social media was yet to begin. Just an occasional visit to her house on festivals or public holidays and it was still not a guarantee whether I would see her.

Image ref: Google.com

Image ref: Google.com

Some two years later we were accidently in the same city and decided to meet up that evening in a mall…but on one condition that I will have to drop her home as it would get late by then. It was our chance to catch up on those lost years and to put a dressing wherever the cracks had begun to appear in our sweet special bond.

She shouted out a long ‘Hiiiieeeeee’ with her ever-sparkling smile the moment she saw me. She was wearing a white ‘Punjabi’ salwar ‘n’ kurti and was simply looking flawless. A small ‘bindi’ amplified her beauty many folds. In fact this was the first time I was noticing the feminine qualities hidden in her. She was more confident and surer of herself both in her looks and talks. For the first time I saw a beautiful girl in her and not the tomboyish brat who sat next to me.

I still remember, after about eight long years, each and every word she spoke…the conversation we had…where we sat…what we ordered. After the initial hi and hello…we began opening up about our lives…the harsh realities that she encountered during the last few years. I could see and sense the matureness, though it was not a lot, in her. She was not the same careless kid anymore. I personally believe, no matter how rich or happy you are…but the meaning to one’s life add only when they have had their share of the bitter truths.

Listening to her story…sharing my own…saw her eyes brim with tears…my heart went out to her and just wanted to hug my old buddy with whom I once shared that bench. But I refrained…don’t know why. We spoke for hours and then I dropped her home. She hugged me while I was still on the bike (such an idiot I am). My mind couldn’t detach itself and my thoughts kept on lingering with what all she told me.

We met a couple of more times after that, in fact on one occasion I met her with my girlfriend. But again the years passed…I left the country…she went back home…changed cities…changed professions. This time luckily the technology had taken the leap and we were in better interactive stage than last time.

Recently I got to see her again, this time on a promise of a Royal Enfield ride back home. We met at a café where she reached before me. Dressed casually in a jeans and top with a tinge of reddish color to her hair…she was looking cool. It being lunch time and the café not serving any intoxicating beverages…we opted for a pizza and ice teas. We chatted and chatted about…life…jobs…not getting married…parents…pressures…everything. Her eyes brimmed a couple of times and I refrained and restrained myself again.

It gave me goose bumps when I realized how time flew and it’s been like two decades when we first shared the bench together. For a moment I felt as if we were those kids back from the school days. She told me about how she enjoys her single status by learning all kinds and forms of dance and how it has made her a dance freak…that I actually love.

The sun was about to set and she had a dinner plan…so finally we got on my Royal Enfield and headed home. I did not make any efforts to prove that I am lesser of an idiot now and again hugged her while sitting on the bike. Gifted her some chocolates, which I got from my eurotrip for her. While hugging her, my cheeks accidently felt her cheeks, which were already being kissed by her hair. For the first time I felt like kissing her…felt as if that moment should remain forever. She crossed the road and went inside her home…I was still standing in that moment…wishing her to come back. Would have got down from my bike…removed the hair strands playing with her face…embraced her nicely…looked into her deep dark eyes…made a promise to them that no tear of sorrow will ever hug them…all your worries are mine now…and…would have asked, “Will you be my Dance Partner for Life”?

For all those who were back bencher,

For all those who were first bencher,

For all those who still can’t convince her,

For all those who had a brat as their best friend,

For all those who never had any,

For all those who love her smile,

and

For all those who want her as their dancing partner for life

It’s not a GoodBye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE…aur han Happy Women’s Day to her and all the women out there as everyone is special and beautiful in their own way. Cheers!!!

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

1

10th India Digital Summit

10th INDIA DIGITAL SUMMIT – IAMAI

India Digital Summit

India Digital Summit

The biggest annual gathering of Digital leaders in India – 10th India Digital Summit (IDS) hosted by – IAMAIInternet and Mobile Association of India was held on 9th and 10th day of February of 2016 in the heart of our national capital, New Delhi, at the Lalit hotel. The event was a unique opportunity which saw many huge names, the smartest minds in market from the Digital and Marketing Ecosystem along with some new ones that have started surfacing and started knocking on the doors of success.

Continuing with the current government initiative of ‘Start-up India Stand-up India’, the event covered a vast range of topics aligning with the government’s agenda and with the current technological and digital space in the country. The top CEO’s and CMO’s addressed a variety of topics including;

  • Smart Cities Mission: A step towards Smart India
  • First Steps to Entrepreneurship – launching of a start-up
  • How health tech is on a roll?
  • Why Food tech industry is moving towards a new ceiling?
  • What the state of internet in rural India?
  • What is the future of Internet?
  • Education Tech – the revolution has added a new dimension to the education industry
  • Financial Inclusion – Advancing financial inclusion in India
  • How to scale up start up: Analyze, Attract, Implement and Grow
  • Travel Tech – The road ahead
  • What’s the state of Internet and women in India: technology to aid for gender parity
  • Mobile touch points across brand marketing
  • Marketing automation: Transforming the way the marketers work
  • How India is moving towards a cashless economy
  • Apps Development innovation required in India
  • Building a killer team – Ways to Attract, Hire and retain the right people
  • How is the technology giving a leap to financial institutions
  • The power of content marketing to drive Digital Media Campaigns
Deep Kalra, MakeMyTrip with Amarjeet Singh, OLX

Deep Kalra, MakeMyTrip with Amarjeet Singh, OLX

The Lalit provided the perfect setting for the event where the complete Hotel was covered in the flavours of India Digital Summit. There were four major halls where the leadership talks and discussions were taking place and a designated Exhibitors section. This time IAMAI – IDS gave an exciting opportunity to young budding entrepreneurs to come and present and pitch their ideas and start-ups in front of a panel of investors and market leaders.

Chairman TRAI at the 10th IDS

Chairman TRAI at the 10th IDS

The Exhibitors section had stalls of the major sponsors explaining their key offerings but the buzz was majorly generated by the ‘Startup Zone’ which was again a glorious opportunity for some start-up to set up their stalls and explain to visitors what their offerings were. It was great even for the new technology curious visitors as they were complimented with food and tea coupons depending upon the passes they were holding.

The Summit commenced with a welcome address by Kunal Shah, Founder & CEO, FreeCharge & Chairman IAMAI. It was followed by many speakers in different auditoriums including Umang Bedi, MD Adobe, Shri Ram Sewak Sharma, Chairman TRAI, Dinesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO Indiamart, and Deep Kalra, Founder MakeMyTrip. The first day concluded with the CEO’s dinner which posed as a terrific opportunity to connect and network with the key figures in the business.

Dinesh Agarwal of Indiamart at 10th IDS

Dinesh Agarwal of Indiamart at 10th IDS

Second day witnessed equally huge names from the digital ecosystem. Murugavel Janakiraman, founder and CEO CONSIM and Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP Rajya Sabha got the day underway. Nandan Nilekani graced the occasion with his presence and strategic inputs on how he is shaping the future AADHAAR and its inclusion in every aspect of life and hence economy. The day also saw the likes of Dippak Khurana, CEO Vserv, Amit Jain, CEO Cardekho, Kirthiga Reddy, MD Facebook India, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder Paytm, and Rajan Anandan, VP & MD Google SE Asia & India. The valedictory address was given by Shri Jayant Sinha, MoS Finance government of India.

Nandan Nilekani at 10th IDS

Nandan Nilekani at 10th IDS

The second day concluded with the 6th edition of the India Digital awards which definitely glamorized the event along with recognizing the hard work of the techies for their contribution in the Digital universe.

Excerpts from the 10th IDS:

“Every Entrepreneur is a Social Entrepreneur in India. Popularity shouldn’t be a metric for success. Entrepreneurs should create value so that the VCs chase them. Our Favourite sport is jumping to conclusions. Great Entrepreneurship should not be like coaching classes, don’t always look for mentors.” – Kunal Shah, Founder & CEO, FreeCharge & Chairman IAMAI.

Nandan Nilekani with his mission on AADHAAR

Nandan Nilekani with his mission on AADHAAR

“Adobe is changing the world through digital experiences. The real differentiator is Customer Experience for products and services. Every Experience should be consistent and continuous. Experience is the new brand and customer journey is the new product.” – Umang Bedi, MD Adobe.

“Software should be made available to everyone as commodities for us to grow. Digital India vision can only be achieved if there would be connectivity all across infrastructure and internet.” – Shri Ram Sewak Sharma, Chairman TRAI.

Dippak Khurana of Vserv at 10th IDS

Dippak Khurana of Vserv at 10th IDS

“Scaling up is very individual and intuitive. Accelerators and Alliances are two very different things. It’s about repeat usage (churn) not new usage. Don’t try to provide solutions to everyone, be focused. It’s not about the ideas… It’s about the execution and Execution is a series of small ideas.” – Dinesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO, IndiaMart

“It’s totally about perseverance with your startup. Don’t have a plan B when you embark on your journey of a Start-Up. MakeMyTrip’s success is because of its TEAM. Please be aware of competition but don’t obsess over them. Competition is equally important…If u don’t have competition that means you are in the wrong space”. – Deep Kalra, Founder MakeMyTrip.

Irfan Khan Ceo Blogmint at 10th IDS

Irfan Khan Ceo Blogmint at 10th IDS

“Language support is very crucial for Internet in rural India. Affordable smart devices and affordable data is the key to take the Internet to rural India. We need the REASON for the person to come on Internet in rural India. Problem is content generation in regional language and because the content is in alien language there is very low discoverability Ambiguity is a key issue when it comes to translation. There should be standardization in taxes across country to support Internet in rural India. Consistency in network, spectrum n infra require for proper Internet in rural.” – Internet for Rural India.

Blogmint at work

Blogmint at work

“Constantly remind people of your mission and right Co-Founder is critical.” – Dippak Khurana, Founder & CEO VServ.

Chaaipani stall at StartUp zone

Chaaipani stall at StartUp zone

To summarize the couple of days of Digital summit; It focused on how digital transformation can help and give a tremendous boost to the Indian Economy both in urban as well as rural India,  which was in coherence with the current government’s initiative of ‘Start-up India Stand-up India’.

I would like to take this as an opportunity to thank IAMAI and Blogmint for making it possible for me to attend the event on both the days.

FlockChat at StartUp zone

FlockChat at StartUp zone

Selfie with Umang bedi, Adobe MD

Selfie with Umang bedi, Adobe MD

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

0

ASUS ZenFestival – Celebrate the ZEN in you

ASUS ZenFestival – Celebrate the ZEN in you

Asus Zenfestival

Asus Zenfestival

It is monsoon time in New Delhi, but it was raining smart ‘ZEN’ Phones from Asus on 6th August, 2015 at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. There was glitz…glamour…celebrities…Bollywood’s Selfie Queen, Sonakshi Sinha, and hundreds of tech geeks at the ASUS ZenFestival. Yes you heard it right it was not an event it was a FESTIVAL. It was simply not an event about phone launches…there was much more to it…from graffiti wall to tattoo counter…from demo sections to celebrity look-a-likes where people could pose with them…from snacks counters to autograph walls…there was everything one could just imagine at such a Festival.

A girl getting a tattoo

A girl getting a tattoo

Colourful Glowing Drum

Colourful Glowing Drum

The festival was hosted by the talented Cyrus Sahukar who was at this spontaneous best whether on stage or interacting with the tech freaks present in the audience. Moving on, the crowd was mesmerized by an awesome and colorful flying drums performance followed by a gymnastic performance by a couple of foreigners.

Asus chairman, Mr. Jonney Shih, then took over the stage as he was going to make announcement for the launches of not one…not two…but six smart devices; four in the smart phone category and two in the tablet category. He thanked India for the awesome response that the Zenfone2 was getting after their recent launches in April. He unveiled ‘the Incredibles’Zenfone2 Laser, Zenfone2 Deluxe and ASUS ZenPad7.0 and ASUS ZenPad8.0. These all will be available in India exclusively on Flipkart from August 2015. He also showcased for the first time to the whole world Zenfone Max which is a battery powerhouse with 5000 mah of capacity which is launching in October 2015.

Awesome Flashing Flying Drums

Awesome Flashing Flying Drums

Sonakshi with Zenfone Selfie

Sonakshi with Zenfone Selfie

He then invited our very own Bollywood’s Selfie Queen, Sonakshi Sinha, to come up and launch a very apt product for all the Selfie crazies out there. She was looking stunning in a bodycon slit black and maroon maxi dress. The top of the dress was stripes which was nicely wrapped around her body. She deservedly is the first owner of the Zenfone Selfie which has an amazing 13 MP front camera which is a perfect for all Selfie lovers.

13MP Front Cam Selfie Price

13MP Front Cam Selfie Price

There is nothing better than proving your worth about product’s reliability and credibility in front of an audience. Asus CEO, Jerry Shen, along with fellow colleagues demonstrated some of the most amazing capabilities of the different Zenfones. They even took on the might of iPhone6 demonstration after demonstration and I must say here, it looked really convincing considering the segment and pricing differences of both the offerings. ASUS also unveiled their mascot based on Zen Series itself – ZENNY.

The Incredibles for India

The Incredibles for India

According to me this time Asus has got it right with a lot more compelling products which are catering to specific needs of the consumers. Even the pricing seems to be spot on from Asus which will even make the competition take notice and the consumers smiles. Lastly I can only say one thing; there are smart phones launches…there are tech events…and then there is ZenFestival…there is nothing better than this especially in India in this space.

The Zenfone Family

The Zenfone Family

You can also PRE-ORDER your ZenFones HERE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

1

Healthy Living: Indulging in Sports

Healthy Living: Indulging in Sports

Healthy Living

Healthy Living

Indulging in sports and outdoor activities can make you a healthier and fitter person both physically and mentally. Let’s take a look at few of the top reasons why you should be out there having some fun right now rather than staring at your screen!

1. Goodbye stress: Is life giving you lemons? Put on your sports shoes, go for a run, come back drenched in sweat, sip on the fresh lemonade you just made and voila! The lemons have been taken care of, and you are now eagerly awaiting fresh ones. Okay, what I mean by that is that working out can effectively reduce stress and prepare you for future challenges.

2. Natural anti-depressant: If you have been feeling them blues lately then prescribe yourself some exercise! Exercising for a few hours every week has been proven to increase the production of neurotransmitters such as endorphins and nor-epinephrine. These chemicals are responsible for a healthy brain function, and lower levels have been linked to vulnerability to depression.

3. Battle addiction: Dopamine is a ‘feel good’ chemical present in our bodies. We normally produce dopamine in response to exciting and stimulating activities like eating, exercising, sex and sadly, consumption of alcohol and drugs. People become addicted to such negative substances as they act as a source of anywhere, any time dopamine. Don’t you think a much healthier alternative to feeling good would be exercising? Exercising is highly recommended to those who are battling addiction and can help prevent relapse.

4. Boost creativity: Incorporating exercise in your daily routine can actually spark creativity in you. Recent studies found that regular exercise can boost the creative process of the brain by improving convergent and divergent thinking. While the former is concerned with coming up with the correct answer to a problem, the latter is a purely creative thought process.

5. A lighter you: It’s a known fact that indulging in physical activity burns calories and keeps you fit. Breaking a sweat can do wonders for you if you want to reduce weight. Just make sure you are wearing sportswear and not ordinary clothes when you hit the gym. Fitness clothing is specially designed to improve your performance by regulating the rate at which your body sweats and prolongs the duration before you exert yourself.

6. Cure insomnia: Lifting weights in the gym, going for a walk or playing a game of football all have a somewhat similar effect on the body. The body works hard and tires itself at the moment and demands rest by signalling the brain. Hence, resulting in deeper sleep cycles.

7. Bigger, better, faster, and stronger: ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and that’s exactly what happens when you indulge in sports. When you work out, your body breaks the existing cell tissues causing the notorious muscle soreness. This damage is repaired and newer and bigger muscles are formed when you are resting. Now the fastest way to build muscles is by enrolling yourself in a gym. However, inadequate gym wear can cause injuries and must be avoided at all costs.

This is a Guest post by Parul Chahal, Jabong.

Here’e the author’s bio:

Parul Chahal is a fitness freak who likes to engage in various sports to stay active. Being a passionate writer, she likes to pen down her fitness stories to keep her readers abreast of how sports and outdoor activities can help us feel good.

13

The 28 ‘Something’ Bachelor

This Post is among the 12 Best Blog Posts of 2015 in India.

Best Blogposts of 2015


The 28 ‘Something’ Bachelor…

Are you 28 years old or above??
Are you single??
Do you get nervous these days before you login into social media with the fear of somebody posting a status or a pic of their engagement…marriage or even the birth of their child??
Are you avoiding paying a visit to your relatives??
Or are you simply fed up ducking the question of WHEN ARE YOU GETTING MARRIED?? Then this one is truly for you.

Remember the famous dialogue from the Rani Mukherji starrer movie ‘Hum Tum’ where she ends up confronting, ‘Jab tak ek ladki ki shadi nahi ho jati…logon ko chain kyu nahi padta’ (why doesn’t anyone finds peace till the time a girl gets married) but I personally believe it holds true for everyone. I think life isn’t as easy as everyone thinks for boys even.

The Settle down logic

The moment you are in that age bracket everyone from your mausi (aunt) to your chachi (Another aunt)…from your milkman to even your maid ask or I should say poke you with the same question or to put it nicely with a caring suggestion, “Beta why don’t you get married now?” why don’t you settle down, as if I am a dust particle and the only motto of life is to settle down at a place. Unknown…Unseen…Unheard people appear from all corners of the world with their logic of why one should get married and they try to convince you with all their might. I think if you ask a person who has been married for let’s say about 50 years…I am sure he/she won’t be able to answer the question how can marriage be related to the concept whether a guy is settled or not?

Image ref: suburbanbachelor.wordpress.com

Image ref: suburbanbachelor.wordpress.com

Old age policy (Budhape ka sahara)

If you try really…and I mean really hard to explain your side of the logic of why you are not getting married…some of them actually end up agreeing with you but then come up with their own philosophy of, ‘Beta!! We understand that these days marriages are not lasting as long as they used to but don’t think about the present…think a little ahead…think about the future when you will be 45-50 years old.’ ‘Then at that age you will surely need someone to share your morning walks and evening talks.’ But then how can one make these people understand that if anybody wants someone at that age then he/she can find someone of that age…at that age…rather than screwing up your life some twenty odd years before.

‘Responsibility se bhag rahe ho’ (You don’t want to shoulder your responsibilities)

The third most common ‘stirrer’ used by the world against you…or in other words for you to get married is that you are running away from your responsibilities and you don’t want to shoulder them. At times it angers me but most of the time it muses me when someone says this to my face…because the same people forget…what the hell a guy is doing when he tries to fulfill his parent’s dreams of becoming a successful person…how is he running away when he is the one who is already taking care of his parents and closed ones or will be taking care of you in your old age. According to these people the only logic which survives is that ‘if a guy is married…he is responsible otherwise he is just a loafer who is busy dodging bullets of responsibilities.’

‘Shadi ki ek age hoti hai’ (The right age for marriage factor)

Everybody has plans…and he might also have some plans…and marriage might not be on the cards on an immediate basis. Having said that, I know, there is a right age for marriage and if the plunge is not taken at the right time, it will surely have an effect on the ‘Quality’ of offspring but given the current lifestyle and the expenses of settling in a metro requires some planning…some savings and a lot of mental toughness. What if the guy is simply not mentally ready??? In any case these days’ people are deciding to get married at a later age when they feel that they have at least tried to cover all the corners.

‘Kab tak akele rahoge – khana kaun banayega’ (Till when you will stay alone…and for God sake who will cook for you)

I guess the day my mom realized that my dad can’t even put on a gas stove she decided that her son will be able to suffice all his cooking needs. Still the so called caring relatives…the ones whose life is already hell…try to make sure…yours is surely one too. ‘Now that you are already have a good job…a four-wheeler…and you have already booked a flat…why don’t you get married?’ ‘At least when you return from work someone will be there to share your day and more importantly till when will you cook by yourself.’ My logic, if I have to stay…’happily married’…in a big city…both the partners need to work to meet out the expenses and the expectations and in that case a maid needs to prepare the meals for both of us…so if I have to eat maid cooked food after marriage too…why not let me cook my meal…and stay… ‘Happily unmarried’😉 .

‘Duniya kya kahegi…jarur ussi me kuch kami hogi…baal bhi kam ho rahe hai’ (The world will think that there is surely something wrong with him only…and more importantly you are losing hair day by day)

If you take too much time to decide on your marriage…the world will think that there is certainly something wrong with you. Some may come up with wild medical guesses others will somehow link this to your old heartbreaks and believe me this definitely happens. Even your friends begin to taunt you, ‘bhai sab kuch thik hai na…kabhi field me cricket ball to nahi lag gayi’ (is everything totally fine with you medically). My simple reply to this is a silent…stern…smile.
Then there are the ones who really treat you as their son. The moment you reach their place they will have a newspaper cutting saved for you with new Ayurvedic hair oil, which can increase obviously your hair growth. And you slowly fold that paper…into your pocket…with a genuinely ‘fake’ smile…’Ji aunty main kal hi ye tel kharid leta hu’ (I’ll definitely buy this one tomorrow). But I don’t blame them only…it’s the ‘awesome’ mindset of our society that the moment a guy starts losing his hair…he is considered old…an uncle. I really pitied my cousin who had to get a hair transplant just to get married…sad.

The ones who have taken the plunge also begin to push

Even the ones with whom you have shared your childhood…your bruises…your secrets and your memories begin to push you to get married. Sometimes for the simple reason because they themselves don’t want to be the one who have to swallow the pill alone. ‘Yaar tu kab tak akela rahega…bhai!! Ab tu shadi kar le’. You call them in the middle of the night with some of your issues and the only resolve they will come up with is, ‘Bhai!! Ab tu shadi kar le’. You will say…these days I don’t find interest in office with the profile that I am handling…and their reply, ‘Bhai!! Ab tu shadi kar le’ (Dude!! Get married).

Infact these days…some of the long-lost friends ping me only, either to share their CVs so that I can refer them or to check on me…when I am actually getting married. My ‘bhabhis’ (Sister-in-laws) have found even a newer way to harass…every time I wish them…their only blessing is ‘Jaldi shadi ho bhaiya’ instead of ‘Jeete rahiye bhaiya’. I remember recently attending a school friend’s marriage and out of all the friends who turned up…I was the one who was single…but I guess that should not be the reason to get married…Right!!!

Image ref: prokod.com.tr

Image ref: prokod.com.tr

The Emotional Attyachar

The list will never end for the singles out there…but the last one…the big one…which I believe the parents use to get daughters as well as their sons married is ‘the emotional attyachar’ (the emotional blackmail). ‘Beta!! Hum marne se pehle pote-poti ka muh dekhna chahte hai’. It’s so pathetic that they use their death to blackmail their kid for marriage…leave alone their choice for the marriage. It’s so convenient for them…they decide all your childhood…they decide more or less what career you choose. I believe the decision with whom you want to spend your life with…whether you want to spend it with someone or not should be yours.

For all those who are going to ask me after reading this whether I am actually going to get married is, my reply would be, ‘Arrange marriage main karunga nhi…aur pyar humse koi karta nahi’

For all those who are 28 years old or more,

For all those who face similar issues,

For all those who are married,

For all those who are bachelors,

And

For all those who believe Singlehood is awesome

It’s not a GOODBYE,
But its a GOOD BYE…Aur han…Believe me I still believe in the institution of Marriage…

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

4

To Travel is to Live

To Travel is to Live

Image Ref: Travelimg.org

“To Travel is to live” – Hans Christian Anderson

I have always believed that humans were born to travel… to reach out to places and experience them. But somehow we have found ways to confound ourselves in our lives by making it busier ‘n’ busier with things, which keep us stuck to one location. Some are lucky…their work gives them a chance to travel but then their travel is again restricted to the power-point presentations…hotel check-ins…and catching sleep in their flights. This is not the kind of travel I was referring to.

Travelling to a location is getting a feel of that place in every sense possible…from food to culture…from dressing to mannerism…from meeting new people to actually living with them to experience them. The more you travel the more your soul feels liberated. There is a unique sense of freedom attached to travelling which can only be lived.

Me at Manneken Pis

Me at Manneken Pis

Recently I have been lucky enough to visit countries outside India, which has been a part of conscious effort that I took to simply travel and literally live places after I met a life threatening accident in 2009. It made me realize that one never knows which one is your last day…so why not live each one to the fullest.

This June only I was travelling to Europe for the first time and that is when I realized that we ourselves don’t give respect and weightage to our heritage. I was standing in front of one of the most popular destinations in Brussels – The Manneken Pis and the crowd was going crazy to get them snapped with the creation. I too followed the suite but couldn’t stop myself from giggling at the fact that all these people were going mad for something which was smaller than the size of my head😀 . The biggest disappointment came when I went to see the Mona-Lisa in person. I thought it would be a huge painting or something bigger than it actually is. I simply kept wondering what wrong did the other 2000 odd paintings do to do not deserve any attention as everybody was running to see ‘The Mona-Lisa’.

Image Ref: irisholidays.com

Munnar – Image Ref: irisholidays.com

The more I travel the more I realize that there is hardly any place in the world like our own country India which gives us so many diverse locations to visit. From world-class beaches in Goa and Pondicherry to the mesmerising Ladakh…from the soul soothing Rameshwaram to the serene honeymooning Munnar…we have it all.

We have our own ‘Scotlands’ in Coorg and mini France in Auroville. With Russian scribed menus and more Russians holidaying than in Russia we have a lot to offer in Goa. Even the Sunburns and VH1s could not keep Goa off its calendar. The cheap booze just adds the silver lining to Goa and Pondicherry.

Coorg - Image Ref: mouthshut.com

Coorg – Image Ref: mouthshut.com

If you are the spiritual kind then you are in the best country of the world. From Varanasi to Rameshwaram…From Haridwar to Jaggannath Puri…From Dwarka to Amarnath…it’s not about the location but it’s about choosing a deity and you are sure to find a historically beautiful place associated to that deity. There is even a temple in Ujjain where you’ll find liquor being served as ‘prasad’ to ‘Bhairon Baba’.

 

Image Ref: travelandmore.in

Image Ref: travelandmore.in

If you are a mountain lover I will fall short of words but India will not fall short of hill stations and snow capped ranges to take your breathe away. Whether it’s the north where you’ll have the ranges of Leh…Ladakh…Kashmir Valley…n so on…or in the north-east where there is a hill named after nearly every tribe that lives there. You need to be in Sikkim to understand what I mean by when I say ‘Soul Soothing’. In the west we have the sand laden yet chilling ‘Mount-Abu’ while the ‘Nilgiris’ giving an awesome cooling touch to the south.

Gokarna - Image ref: gokarnagreenland.in

Gokarna – Image ref: gokarnagreenland.in

Leave alone the beaches of Goa and Pondy…visit the beaches of Andaman and Lakshwadeep to be spellbound. Or if you simply want to enjoy the view with your chilled beer and no one in close proximity to disturb you then you have places like Gokarna and Kashif beach.

Somewhere in Kerala - Image Ref: www.scoopwhoop.com

Somewhere in Kerala – Image Ref: http://www.scoopwhoop.com

There must be a reason why Kerala is known as ‘God’s Own Country’ and the only reason is because of its natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes, which it holds. The backwaters in Kollam and Kochi are a treat for the solace seeking ones while place like ‘Waynad’ are for the rain lovers.

Talking of the rains how can we forget that India is the home for the place with the highest amount of rainfall in the world. Mawsynram holds this unique record with reainfall almost all round the year, in fact the state in which it is itself known as the ‘land of clouds’, Meghalaya.

Mawsynram - Image Ref: niejedztamjesli.wordpress.com

Mawsynram – Image Ref: niejedztamjesli.wordpress.com

If you talk about monuments and historical places you will be surprised that every other dot on the map of India holds a special place in history with its share of heritage and monuments on India’s timeline. We stand at Eiffel Tower in awe while forgetting our own Wonder of the World, ‘The Taj Mahal’ which makes the foreigners awestruck for ages. Even cities like Jaipur and Lucknow can boast off places like ‘Hawa Mahal’ and ‘Imam Bara’ respectively, which are architectural geniuses in their own way. Its about picking up a city and you are sure to find monuments or places to see at least for a day or two.

The TAJ - image ref: sqmegapolis.wikia.com

The TAJ – image ref: sqmegapolis.wikia.com

To add to all this…each and every place in India has its own Culture…Language…the kind of food we eat and even the colour of the soil. So before you decide to shell your big bucks on foreign lands…try giving India a chance…and I am sure you won’t be disappointed. And the biggest reason why we love our India because this is where our home is.

This blog is part of Blogger Dream Team

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

0

The VILLGRO Fellowship

The Villgro Fellowship

Rich-Poor Reality

Rich-Poor Reality

I remember giving a presentation on 11th five-year plan during an academic session as a part of MBA curriculum and I don’t know how but I stumbled upon this pic while searching for an appropriate title slide and used it. I used this pic mainly because it is self-explanatory but how it subtly signifies that the governments have failed over the years to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich. Though for the past several plans one of their underlining objectives was ‘Inclusive Growth’ – Growth of every stratum of the society simultaneously…The rich getting richer but the poor also getting better. But instead of continuous efforts and so called plans I personally believe that we have come to a stage that the middle class has virtually diminished and has gone nearly extinct. The reason for this is that the rich is getting richer while at the same time the poor is getting poorer. Hence one of most prevailing questions arise how can we change this…how can we make the state of poor in our country from the current suffocating one to at least survivable.

Statistically speaking where majority of the poor population resides in our country…it’s mainly in the rural lands. There may be many ways but one of the ways that I believe is by starting more and more rural organizations where we can employ a lot of locals as well as the end beneficiaries at large should also be them. I know that there are many NGOs and government organizations working towards achieving the same but still the work isn’t reflecting in the number of success stories that we should ideally hear. I recently heard a bunch of guys coming up with an initiative of rural BPO and I thought that it was a great move. Neither everyone can be a farmer nor is every land that is rural, futile and fertile enough to bear crops.

There are more and more visionaries who are coming up with social enterprises whose main objective doesn’t lie in creating wealth for just them. They are surrounded by a more holy motive of betterment of the poor and how they can be empowered, how they can become the controller of their destinies than mere the rain gods.

But sadly to say the infrastructure, in every regard, I don’t think is that conducive and encouraging, where we can say that the environment is suited for such entrepreneurs and such enterprises. Most of them struggle with a lot of issues and one such issue is how to move ahead with such an enterprise and such a motive. Since there is not much that has already happened in this area…there are very few mentors and experts in the same field and category. But wouldn’t it be a boon for everyone who wants to dedicate his business and life to such a cause that he gets a platform to showcase his/her enterprise and on top of that get mentors and if possible investors for their mission. Someone to understand their idea and make it kind of their own and incubate it and take it forward like a corporate company.

The Villgro Fellowship

The Villgro Fellowship

Villgro is one such non-profit institution, which is giving a platform for social entrepreneurs and enterprises with innovative and technical ideas, whose underlying theme should be the betterment of society as a whole especially the underprivileged and the poor. They have come up with an awesome Fellowship program where they encourage people from all walks of society to be a part of it and showcase their innovative idea. They will provide total support and whatever guidance is required right from the incubation stage of the idea and project. They will nurture your idea like their own and in return teach you also the key aspects of running a social enterprise so that after the fellowship you can on your own run it in a sustainable manner which achieves its objectives and goals with which you wanted to start on the first place.

Fellow success stories

Fellow success stories

On the other hand in return you will learn a lot, since the program is designed in such a manner that you will get a lot of exposure through the other fellows, which will be a mix of international students with similar passion and such ideas. There is no dearth of recognition also, Villgro has won a lot of awards and appreciation for coming up with such a foundation that instead becomes foundations for other organizations and hence the credibility about Villgro and its Fellowship program automatically follows.

In the end I would like to mention a line from their website…’Change starts with ideas…when ideas become reality, they transform lives’. So, if you have an idea which you believe can change a lot of lives…Villgro is the place to go.

For more info please check out these links about the fellowship:

150318-Fellowship Posts-Rachana

 

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul