Thursday, September 29, 2011

Who owns you?

For the first time in my life I decided to buy a book immediately after reading its review. As evident the storyline was so compelling that I could not hold myself back and immediately rang the bookstore to reserve a copy for me. My sister’s keeper has a storyline that is not only unique but touches a sensitive chord deep down somewhere in almost everyone who has a family. Some of you may have read the long back released book (2004) or seen the film (2007), so I will not elaborate any contents here but the book triggered such a forceful thought process that I have to pen down my own reflections.

How much of rights does one have over one’s offspring? How much of obligation does one have towards one family and more specifically siblings? Even in a Western society, where dominance of parents is much lower when compared to restricted Asia, child can be forced, albeit under very special and extraordinary circumstances to be a lifelong slave donating blood and body to save a dying kin. After kid gets some senses and begins searching for own identity, it is unable to separate its existence apart from being reduced to a savior of its sibling

The brilliantly crafted storyline does raise many wicked questions which have no answer. It is no secret that parents have a bias towards the weaker child which at times is seen as ignoring the better one. However the pertinent question raised here is of control than any undue favor. Do parents have a moral right over the child that they can dictate the way child lives? True that children owe their existence to parents but are there any boundaries that define the limit after which child is free to live his or her life. Don’t get me wrong for I know parents have the best of intention for all their children and even in this book they did the best possible for all three, but to save a dying child they had to specifically conceive another one who would act as a life long donor, only that life saving kid rebelled after growing up putting all in a moral quandary

It is true that parents have created us and given us boundless love; it is also true that they love us more than any wealth or fame and would selflessly stand by us fighting against the whole world but it is also true that all human beings have their own identity which no one can deny to them. No one owns anyone, neither mind nor body; its own attitude, ability and destiny which decides who gets what.

Consider this: will you give your kidney to save a close kin? Almost all of you will. Will you give your life if it could save someone you value? Some of you will. But are any of you willing to erase all your lived life and give up all your thoughts, actions and identity for any one? Think hard before answering

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

To be or not to be

When I was growing up as a kid there was a huge tree near our playing area which all kids wanted to climb. I never ventured to climb the tree myself and was also baffled as to why everyone wanted to be up there, staying at the ground you were not losing anything and climbing up that tree was not making you wealthy or entitled to kisses from beauty queens. But then everyone around wanted to climb, boys and girls included, as if it will give them a stamp of approval and some recognition or acceptance. Not that those who somehow successfully climbed were always happy, infact some very enthusiastic climbers met a lot of pain on the way and their agony was indeed too big to be concealed. I don’t know why but one day I too decided to climb the tree myself thinking it will complete me in some way; till today I am not sure why on that day and at that age I wanted to climb

It is the same doubt which grips me today when I have decided to get married and am frantically looking around for someone compatible. Like the climbers on that tree I have seen many before me tying the dreaded knot and the experiences of all have been very varied to say the least. One blogger who I have been reading for more than 5 years now is feeling pangs of marital agony in a pitiful way and makes no attempt to conceal her misery; another ex-colleague simply goes offline whenever I bring topic of marriage forth and then there are others who are trying to keep everyone else except themselves happy.

A couple of years back my thoughts on settling down were way different from today, which I guess has something to do with the new and changed circumstances of life. While in India I was yearning to get away and now that I am finally in another land, it is completing the next stage of life that I look forward to. But simply having a good naukri does not mean a you look for a good chhokri, one has to be ready or made up for it; simply following those climbing the tree can even lead to broken bones.

What makes me more scared of marriage is my insipid disposition; I am not sure how I come across on this space but I am very far from being a mast kalandar. For starters I don’t smile and always keep a straight face, I don’t mix easily with new people and it is only when I am comfortable that I open up, I get pissed off by complications of females and hate shopping, my daily schedule is tad too disciplined from which I rarely digress….the list goes on and when I read “My Desired Partner” on matri sites, it makes me crouch badly. All these attributes make me an easy fodder for a sharp female and as my horoscope predicts, marital bliss is something I should not count on too much

Manytimes I ponder if I lack anything, I am now doing reasonably well in life and am sort of content after a long, long time. Getting hitched will bring its own basket of complications but the million dollar question is if jumping in marital fire worth it to risk everything?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Birthdays then and now

20th birthday

•Excitement builds up days in advance with much planning on how to blast the day
•On the day reach College early after attending morning calls from stinky relatives; thankfully not everyone had mobile those days so once out could easily escape
•Receive trendy gifts from trendy friends; Archies gallery was a famous stop those days to buy candy floss stuff, not sure if it still exists in Delhi
•Feels nice when close friends wish; feels nicer when someone wishes with a kiss
•Head out for day celebrations to nearby joints. Nirula’s used to be my favorite over McD and other vilayati invaders, loved the taste of chicken there
•How can I forget loads of daaru in hostel before returning home; if not anything atleast daaru made girls sneak into boys hostel
•In evening have a family affair with cutting of cake and evening dinner

30th birthday

•Till few days before I do not even remember my day is approaching as I have to shift to a new house which forces me to prepone my shifting by a day
•On the D day or rather B day, I wake up by the smell of dirt all around in my new flat as unpacking is yet to be completed. Sometime later I start receiving calls from India
•Later in the day I am confused when someone congratulates me, new house has taken much of my thought to think of anything else
•Since I have been forced to do something special, I head to a nearby quiet, elegant place for lunch with office folks. During lunch a bit of stoic silence follows since everyone is engrossed in their office politics thoughts
•Some people wishing ask me how old I have turned and when they hear 30 some reply “its high time”. Now birthdays are days to get high but perhaps my single status is a real bother for others
•I also receive calls from India and when they learn I am 30, next question is when coming back to India and settling down. I guess being 30 and single is punishable under Indian penal code
•Again few drinks in evening but without thrill; of course hiding and drinking in hostel gives a different high
•Before switching off for the day my thoughts again wander - no not planning for future but on how to set my new place…

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Europe travel diary (with details)

Day 1
I land up in Brussels Airport around afternoon all tired after long flight and as instructed take the bus below Arrivals which drops me at the hotel door. As I am being driven around I take a long and hard look at Brussels, which appears like a chocolate factory with all centuries old architecture on display. I enter my hotel and find it to be a Paharganj type place with narrow stairs and creepy surroundings. In the evening I step out and venture in wrong direction trying to explore the city and end up wondering where in the world have I come! God I want to return soon

Day 2
I go to the nearby square to catch the city tour bus and am on way to see Brussels. The city is not bad at all but you must carry an umbrella with you and have loads of patience to wait for your bus otherwise the Grand Palace and city square is a delight. By late afternoon I am finished with city touring when I spot the City Parade. Wow what fun it is with those fancily dressed babes, all people bless God for creating white flesh. In the evening I have couple of beers after which I head to a nearby city strip bar but near the entrance I spot a rogue looking creature eying me badly. When we are alone he unzips and exposes himself seeing which I run like hell. No more bars on this trip

Day 3
I wake up completely tired with legs aching from previous day. I have to take a long train journey to Luxembourg but thankfully tickets are not pre-booked so I can schedule my day the way I like. Luxemburg is a tiny country with nothing much to offer and would have been better skipped although it is an ideal camping destination but then I didn’t come here for camping. While returning I make friends with a Pakistani seated on the opposite train seat, only time I speak at length with someone

Day 4
Thankfully legs are not paining much as I have to be in time for train to Paris. Missing a train here is not option for it leaves you stranded with nowhere to go so reluctantly I walk to Brussels Midi station. Train arrives on time in Paris and once I board the city bus Paris makes my head go round and round. I have never seen anything so regal and grand ever in my life nor do I think many cities can match Paris for its grandeur. I am yet to visit NYC but yes I have seen Paris in this life

Day 5
By now I am a lot tired and am wondering why I did not think of a shorter trip before. I have had a bad night so am half asleep when I check out of Brussels for Cologne. Train arrives on time in Cologne but city has nothing new to offer, I am also grossly tired and only take a small city tour which proves listless. Germany, unlike France and Italy, is not a major tourist destination so Germans too are colder and less acceptable to browns. Only thing I liked in Cologne was my lovely hotel located near the cathedral which turned to a bustling hip meeting joint after dark

Day 6
I arrive in Amsterdam before noon and the city on first impression appears shady; every 5 minutes I keep checking if my Passport and camera are intact. I check into my hotel which is a bit more than a military barrack after which I head out on the city hop on-hop off bus. The city has nothing much to offer except paintings of Van Gogh, Rembrandt, hiding place of a Jew teen and the Royal Palace. During evening I head out to Red Light district and this is where action is. Girls in bikinis pose invitingly in dimly lit cubicles behind which are small rooms with narrow beds. Negotiation and service is so open that many females and families also walk around casually. I spot a young Indian couple also exploring around; though not sure what they wanted. I ask a chick if she will reduce her rates for reduced action but she blasts me off

Day 7
I leave Amsterdam and arrive in Brugge by late afternoon. It’s a long journey with train switching at Antwerp but must say Brugge is pretty. I again get a good hotel by the train station and after lunch march off to the city. There is nothing much to see if you are looking for something specific but Brugge is pretty as pretty can be. Narrow canals, open chocolate factories, centuries old buildings, traditional European architecture, horse drawn carts still in use – Brugge appears to be straight out of a Hansel and Gratel book. I go around a bit and then settle with some wine and food at the city square; this city is safe so one can stay outside after dark

Day 8
Its my last day and I am glad to be heading back. I check out of hotel early and after buying beer to sustain me on train I reach Brussels Airport to be early for my delayed flight back to Muscat. One journey ends many more yet to come

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Europe travelogue

I returned from my much awaited Europe trip yesterday and must say it was all what I thought it to be. Europe cannot be described in words much because not many words can express the beauty of the place or the vibrancy of those open cities but must say all the countries and cities I travelled to had a lot to offer

For starters a visit to Paris in your lifetime is a must. I have been to few international places and am still outside India but Paris beats anything that you have seen by long. At first glance city looks like an antique piece and not the modern city I expected it to be, but once you start going round the places the city will simply take your breath away. I landed in the complex of Louvre museum and could not keep my mouth closed after seeing the mind-bogglingly beautiful complex (and mind you I did not even enter the museum because of the long queue). Later on Eiffel Tower, Sienne river, French military academy and Napoleon’s Tomb followed but bhaiyon behenon Paris is something uniquely different, and I say this after visiting four other countries on the way.

Other places I visited were also interesting but very similar to each other. Almost all places in Europe offer the same menu – World War memorials and architecture, few museums, zoos, strip bars, cathedrals, churches and a happening city square where you can relax after a hard day of sight-seeing with a beer or wine and ogle at all the whites enjoying around or some even making out. Brussels is a good European city but after a couple of days has nothing much to offer; Luxembourg is tiny and small; Germany and Germans are the coldest people possible; Flanders upwards in Belgium is a scenic delight; I was expecting a lot from Amsterdam but it is actually a Bangkok in disguise with only flesh on offer

This trip has blown a big hole in my pocket and manytimes even while going round the city tours I often wondered if this really is worth all that I am doling out. I was all alone for the journey without company so its not that as if I had a big blast with friends or girl friends but I have my reasons for this extravagance. I am still a bachelor and for the first time in life have some pocket change so wanted to make the most of it. As far as being alone, Europe is safe and organized and to be honest I never had a chance to feel alone since almost everyday I was in a new country. Perhaps the only time I could feel pangs of loneliness was during those long train journeys when I could only stare out of the windows as goras don’t mix-up much with browns

Maybe a shorter tour would have been better and a bit economical but then again you live life just once so no regrets. While in India I never even got to see Taj Mahal properly and now I am here having completed a good Eurotrip

Europe is definitely an ideal holiday spot worth every penny spent. For anyone wanting to see Europe on a budget, camping in Brussels is a good idea for the city is cheaper and safer compared to other flashy cities and importantly from there one can take day trips to Paris and Amsterdam which will give a good flair of Europe. Else watch DDLJ again and wish you too had a Raj or Simran for company!