31 May 2009

This Day, That Year-I

Two years ago, on the 30th of May, I arrived in Delhi to start a new innings of my life after completing my graduation. I was there to start my preparations for civil services. In my next three posts, I'll relive those initial days by reproducing the diary entries I made on those days.

Here, I reproduce my first diary entry.

May 31, 2007; 12:45 pm

Hello there,
Here I am, finally sitting in my 'own', 'independent' room on a study table(I mean a study chair adjoining the study table), as far as I remember, writing a diary entry for the first time in my life.
This thought of jotting down my feelings just happened to me as I realised that finally I am all alone in this big big city, heart of our nation, New Delhi.
Mummy and Papa left back for Chandigarh a couple of hours ago. We arrived here, at Nirman House, the hostel where I am residing, yesterday evening.
It felt all normal to me but as time proceeded and night fell, I started feeling a bit dull. I didn't let these feelings of my heart to be conveyed to my parents through my facial expressions.
Anyways, now they are gone and we parted with a nice hug. 'I love them'.
The room is nice and spacious. I have a double bed, nice long study table, spacious almirah, dressing table(I know that sounds girlish), a T.V.(where is STAR WORLD???) and an independent toilet cum bath room with a western 'pot' and wash basin.
All in all, good living conditions but there's no A.C. and I don't need one as I am here to struggle. All great men have struggled in their lives and if I want to become one I have to sacrifice at least something. And sacrifice at what 'cost'?
My dad is already paying 8000 bucks per month to provide me with these living conditions and food.
Food, that's something I have to try as yet. Lunch time is approaching and I'll have my first encounter with my diet for the next five months or so.

See you later,
Vipul Grover

Well, the day didn't end just there as I was back to my 'Dear Diary', once again finding myself all alone in my room and in the city of course, after the dinner. So, here I reproduce my second diary entry. Just read on!

May 31, 2007; 10:45 pm

Hello there,
Well I am back writing for the second time today. In these ten hours, I have experienced the 'food' twice and made a couple of friends.
Food is 'O.K.', dal served in both courses. It was just too watery. In lunch there was additional paneer and in dinner, mixed veg. They were nice. Chapatis and rice were also good.
As far as friends are concerned, there is Arun Munde, a Marathi staying in the adjoining room. Age 24, he is a Masters in Biotechnology with same optional as mine,i.e., Public Administration. So we'll be in the same class. Even he has perched out of his home for the first time, so shares my apprehensions and dilemmas.
Then there is this talkative and 'over-friendly' Rajesh from Hyderabad, Pawan(I believe I heard his name right) from Bihar, Narendra from Nainital and others. I also met a Punjabi Surd briefly. His name is Robby, though he did not impress me much in our tete-a-tete.
Sweating is profound in this Delhi heat under a solitary fan. Temperature at this hour is 35.3°C as indicated by the nice gift given to me by my friends before leaving for Delhi.
I have started reading Shashi Tharoor's 'India:From midnight to millennium'. He has quite a balanced opinions and hence the articles have impressed me.
Tomorrow is my first day at Rau's. Class begins at 7:30 a.m. So will have to rise early. Better I go to sleep right now.

See you later,
Vipul Grover

Despite the fact that I were soon-to-be-22 when I went to New Delhi, my apprehensions about leaving my home were same as any 10 year old moving to a boarding school. Those first couple of days, I felt quite miserable. Anyways, so ended that day for me.

Image Courtesy
http://creativewritersden.blogspot.com (original)

28 May 2009

The Congress Raaj

Today, with swearing in of 59 more ministers into the Union Council of Ministers, its total strength reached 78. This gigantic number which has seen one in every four UPA M.P.'s getting the ministerial berth, is still lower than the constitutional ceiling of 15% of the total Lok Sabha membership(presently 543), set by 91st Constitutional Amendment.
In the era of downsizing of governments such a political maneuvering seems too luxurious but this happens to be a part and a parcel of the representative democracy, we all are fondly proud of.
Since casting my vote on 13th, I've not commented on election results nor have I revealed my choice of candidate. Well, my posts were becoming too politics oriented that I decided to write on some other topics before I return to politics. Hereby, I declare that the candidate I voted for and the party he belonged to, both got vanquished at the constituency level and the national level respectively, by the Congress+. So which party I voted for is not that difficult to guess if you have read my previous post on Elections 2009.
However, in the victory of Congress, I don't see any personal loss as more than grieving over the loss of the party of my choice, I am celebrating the loss of the opportunist regional parties(like RJD, LJP, SP, BSP, TDP, JD(S), AIADMK among others) and more importantly the Left parties. In the above mentioned previous post of mine, I had emphatically favoured a national party's coalition coming to power and that's what has happened thankfully.
Moreover, the number of seats Congress has amassed independently this Lok Sabha election, has given it a chance to form a very strong and decisive Government, relatively less hassled by the pushes and pulls of coalition politics which has effected the Central Governments for quite some time now. With the stability of Government, strength will follow as a necessary corollary and that's what India requires at this hour. However, Congress should handle this positive mandate responsibly and refrain from despotic practices that were so common during the life and times of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi.

One aspect about which I had commented in the previous post and which still disturbs me is with regards to dynastic politics. The Congressmen have the tendency of attributing all their successes to the wisdom and leadership of Sonia'ji' and Rahul 'baba' (Dr.Manmohan Singh hardly finds a mention) while finding scapegoats within the party cadre whenever things go wrong. Such a sycophancy and dynastic politics is not just limited to this party but is deep rooted in the Indian political landscape across the parties of all hues and colours(DMK presenting the best or rather, the worst example of the same in the present context).
One of my fellow blogger as many others, has praised the junta's mandate for electing the youngsters like Sachin Pilot, Milind Deora and Jyotiraditiya Scindia in addition to the 'prince' Rahul Gandhi. In this mandate, they find the victory of youngistan. This is what I had to comment on this particular post of her.
"Queen, prince...????? Are we living in a Democracy or a Kingdom? Indian masses have given Congress the mandate, so I have no right to question it. However, the likes of Rahul Gandhi, Deora, Pilot and Scindia whom you have so emphatically mentioned as future of India are there not just because of their personal 'qualifications' but because of their surnames. These princes may be good at their work, however there are many others who might be better but don't get a chance because they are 'lesser born'. True victory of 'Youngistan' will take place when just any youngster can dream of making it big in politics without the backing of their family names."
Today, India got it's youngest minister in Agatha who is just 28 and was sworn in as a Minister of Sate. However, wait for her surname before rejoicing; its Sangma. Yes, she happens to be the daughter of veteran parliamentarian and former Speaker, P.A. Sangma. Along with her many sons, daughters, wives, nephews and grandchildren of politicians took the oath of secrecy today.
I hope with a maturing democracy, this dynastic politics withers away with time. However, looking at one of the oldest democracy in the world, things don't look like moving in that direction. In U.S.A., if Hillary Clinton had managed to get the Democratic ticket and defeated John McCain in the presidential race, that country would have seen two families holding the Presidential post between them for 24(or maybe 28) years. That didn't happen but could happen. So, no one's immune to 'Dynastic Democracy' you see.

Images Courtesy:
1. http://im.rediff.com (original)
2. http://ajexpress.blogspot.com (original)

25 May 2009

Indian 'Pataka' League

IPL Season-2 got over about two hours ago. By now even the closing ceremony must have concluded. For a cricket fan, an IPL buff and a blogger at the same time, not writing a single post on this cricket extravaganza seems preposterous. So finally, I thought of wiping off my sins by writing one.

"Cricket is a funny game!"
"In Cricket the unexpected can happen any time!"
"Cricket is a great leveller!"
This year's IPL proved these oft-quoted assertions right. How else would you explain this year's finalists, the two teams that ended the last season at the bottom of the table. And well, the last placed of the two, went on to win the second season yesterday.
The Deccan Chargers had a great start this season though they went a little off-track as the tournament progressed. But those early 4/4 wins always kept them within the sight of a semi-finals spot.
On the other hand, Royal Challengers Bangalore after winning a dream opening game against the defending champions, lost the plot under the newly appointed 'too-expensive' firangi captain. It took the brilliance of our very own, veteran spin-guru to bring the team back into the spotlight, winning 7 of the 9 matches they played under his able leadership up to the finals.
Yesterday, I was rooting for RCB but the day belonged to the DC's. It has been a pleasure to watch the great contributions made by Rudra Pratap Singh, Rohit Sharma and Pragyan Ojha in it's victories this season.
My favourite team Kings XI Punjab got eliminated just before the semi finals. Well, my loyalty towards them come from my roots. Being a Punjabi residing in Chandigarh, my automatic choice is KXIP. One thing about IPL thats really interesting is that you have so many criteria to choose your favourite team. However attaching your loyalties can become a bit difficult when conflicting priorities come up.
Say, for example, Mr. X is a Punjabi who has stayed in Delhi most of his life. Presently, he is working for Reliance in Hyderabad. He is a die hard fan of Shahrukh Khan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Well, lets add some more difficulties for him. He has always fantasized about Shilpa Shetty all his life(OK, I know this one is not convincing enough). Let's swap her with Katrina Kaif(Yeah, now that's a big possibilty;) or maybe he is very fond of Bengaluru because that's the city where he successfully courted his lovely wife. Now which team should this poor guy root for?
Let him make his decision after carrying out a detailed TOWS analysis or just follow his heart. As for me I'll be analysing some HITS and some FLOPS of IPL-2.

  • South Africans- These people are great cricket enthusiasts who were always there to cheer the teams. The Indian players and franchises must have felt home away from home. This coupled with the state of the art cricketing infrastructure of the country made IPL a great experience.
  • Lalit Modi- The man who was named one of the most powerful sporting personality recently, proved his mettle again. Snubbed by the Government, he took no time in shifting the venue and executing the plot to perfection.
  • Zoozoo- Now this one is not from the cricketing arena but definitely one of the most interesting aspect of watching IPL on our TV sets(and not on the ground as the matches were being played far away across the Indian Ocean). Vodafone came up with another magnificent ad campaign and we all went zoozoo over it!
  • Matthew Hayden- The only question everyone was asking on seeing him thrashing the bowlers around the field was- "Why the hell he got retired?" The Orange Cap winner, scored 572 of just 395 balls at an average of 52, this season.
  • Fake IPL Player- This blogger had everyone on their toes. With an ever increasing fan following, he kept churning out posts which though loosing their zing with time, were funny and interesting. His final RIP video post kept the mystery behind his true identity alive. (Just realized, that wasn't FIP's final post. I'll read the new ones after posting mine.)
  • Cricket veterans- T20 is the game for youngsters, they said. However, Kumble, Hayden, Jayasuriya, Sachin, Gilchrist, Warne, Dravid and Ganguly proved them wrong. The two teams playing the finals were led by two of these veterans.
  • Delhi Daredevils- This Friday playing the semi-finals, it wasn't their day. Otherwise, this team played like winners throughout the tournament. The Sehwag-Gambhir duo failed to make a mark but others didn't let this hinder their progress. (I hope this duo get their act right before the T20 World Cup)
  • Indian Young Brigade- Suresh Raina who could have easily lost in oblivion thanks to his lack lustre performances in international games came back into limelight with his brilliant performance with the bat as well as the ball. While players like Rohit Sharma, R.P. Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Parthiv Patel and Pathan brothers kept impressing, the youngsters like Shadab Jakati, Abhishek Nayar and Manish Pandey will make the lives of the selectors miserable in the coming days.

  • Strategy Breaks- These 7 1/2 minutes break were an unwanted guest this IPL season. They took away a lot from the game. Though beneficial for the bowling side at times as it acted as a distraction for the rampaging batsmen, it made the game longer by quarter of an hour, hence going against the very concept of this new cricket avatar of T20.
  • Kolkatta Knightriders- All their games were played off the field. They generated the maximum hype and were always there on the news channels and advertisements. I hope SRK had applied his sponsor's slogan of "Sprite bujhaye only pyaas, baki sab all bakwaas" to his team management too. Had he kept things simple and not venture out on stupid 4-captain formulas et al, things could have been different for them.
  • Players' Jerseys- Marketing at its best, I should say. This year the franchises tried to make the maximum out of sponsorships. In return, these sponsors had to be obliged. So no spot was left on the players' jerseys as they became walking hoardings for all kind of products and services from Hajmola to Airlines. Even their helmets were not spared as the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Mahela Jayawardane carried the stickers(and not embossed logos) of Dabur on them.
  • Rains- The untimely rains in the initial stages played a spoilsport. KXIP lost their first two encounters in rain-affected matches on account of Duckworth-Lewis formula. Another two matches had to be abandoned. However as the tournament progressed thankfully, the weather got stable.
This IPL, sixes became DLF Maximums and other achievements on field became Citi Moment of Success. However, I chose not to put them under FLOPS as there are certain compulsions of business. So lets give the management some leeway as long as they provide us with good cricket.
Right now that's all coming to my mind as far as HITS and FLOPS go. Overall, this IPL was a big HIT and now I am looking forward to the ICC T20 World Cup and the T20 Champions League coming up later this year. Hey, I just remember there's another T20 tournament played in India. What was its name..................................... yeah, ICL. The harbinger of T20 championships in India is no where to be seen now. May its soul rest in peace;)

Images Courtesy:
Teams' Logos- http://www.iplt20.com (original)
Tournament's Logo- http://hubpages.com (edited)

19 May 2009

The Three Risk-tak(e)ers

An ode to our friendship

An ode to our friendship

A fictitious non-fiction

This post has been submitted for 'Friends Forever' under Blogadda's Win This Wednesday contest.

This is the story of three friends- Aniket, Vimal and Shashi- who were not content with 'what is' but wanted to test their potential to reach what they believed as 'what ought to be'. With their passion to keep their future at stake, they came to be known far and wide as 'The Three Risk-tak(e)ers'.
The story starts with Aniket. He too planned to become a conventional engineer as had his other two buddies post their matriculation. But fate had something else in store for him. After putting in two years of 'hard work' or at least as others believed he did, his results were not worth landing him anywhere. So he had to be content with a B.A. rather than a B.E. It was here that his interest in theatre and drama started and by the end of three years, our small town boy had packed his bags to try his luck in the tinsel town.
The start was good. He landed at the doors of the man under whom superstars like Retake Roshan and many other star-kids had groomed. He ended the acting course with the sorts of 'first class first pass' distinction. However from here the real struggle started. Hunting for movies he ended up acting in two serials.
In the first one which got telecast on Mony T.V., he had three scenes and well in each scene the poor guy, playing a villainous role had to bear a couple of slaps and a punch from the main protagonists.
In the other one on Moon T.V., he played the role of one of the friends of one of the many lead protagonists of the serial. However, before our poor Aniket could show some of his talent the serial was taken off air as the producers realised the only people watching it were the near and dear ones of the dozen actors and actresses who got to debut in their low-budget venture.
Alongside, Aniket also acted in a movie based on the lives of gay prostitutes in which he played one of the leads but the movie couldn't lead him anywhere as even after a year or so, it was craving to see the lights of a projector room of any multiplex. So Aniket had no reason to be 'gay' after all as the only thing he got post-movie were the snickering and gay jokes of his two buddies.
From here we move to the lives of our other two characters. Well both of them successfully completed their engineering unlike their actor buddy. However, Vimal had the childhood dream of becoming an administrator. To pursue this dream, he decided not to take up any job and get into the preparation mode for undoubtedly, the toughest examinations of India.
He was all pumped up as he left his city and reached the national capital to take some preliminary coaching. New city, new life, new friends were there for just about half a year as then he returned back home to continue further.
Soon he found himself trapped within the four walls with his 'books and books'. Most of the friends had left the city to take up their jobs or pursue post-graduation. Though for some time Vimal got distracted thanks to an ill-timed relationship, he was back to his senses in time to fall back in love with his books. With a couple of years gone by since he completed his B.E., Vimal was still preparing and appearing for the exams though better prepared than before.
Unlike Vimal, Shashi got placed in a highly reputed consultancy McKaunsi and got pay package worth envy. Within a year he also got a chance to visit the country of honeymoons in the laps of the beautiful Alps, on a business assignment. But somehow Shashi was not content despite his stability.
Meanwhile on the global front, stability became a paleolithic word as the markets started tumbling and businesses began closing. Companies were finding pretexts to chop off manpower while the poor executives were having sleepless nights fearing for their future.
Amidst all this, out of no where, Shashi decided to leave his secured job and go in for his own start-up. Starting a new business while others are closing down by dozens, seems a bit vague. However, Shashi wanted to join the league of the other two 'extraordinary not-so-gentle men' and no one could stop him. A couple of months passed since he gave resignation but still his web-based company was nowhere to be seen in the network jungle.
These three friends have their own distict dreams. They can't take things as they come. There are many others like them who dream big. Many perch out to realise them. However others prefer to follow the conventional trends because for them security is above their self-actualisation.
These three and numerous other risk-tak(e)ers may succeed or they may fail but one thing is for sure, decades hence sitting on their arm chair they won't be sulking upon thinking- I wish I had given it a try.

This story is not based on anyone (except Ankit, Vipul and Shashaank). Any resemblance to anyone living or dead or kept on ventilator as not yet brain dead is purely coincidental.

Image Courtesy

http://meaninglessguy.files.wordpress.com (edited)

18 May 2009

Babysteps to Babudom

Way to go!
As the results of the 15th Lok Sabha elections started trickling out on Saturday, many hearts were bound to beat. However, my heart had a totally different reason to become hyperactive. I had to face my Civil Services Preliminary Examination on Sunday, that is, technically yesterday as right now its already two and half hours since the clock ticked 12 at night.
There were reasons to be nervous as I am already one attempt down, an attempt well wasted thanks to my immaturity. However, this time the preparation for at least the first stage, i.e., the preliminary was better, much much better.
The exam went fine and I hope to get to the next stage this year. I have my fingers crossed but the question is for how long can I keep them in this position, as our UPSC babus take nearly 3 months to compile the results irrespective of the fact that this is an objective type paper done on OMR sheets.
However before this result comes out there's another exam I have to face. That's Mains exam(second stage) for the Haryana Civil Services coming up in late June or early July. Well, ofcourse I took the first successful babystep to babudom by clearing its preliminary stage conducted late last month.
So got to start the preparations as soon as possible. For the time being, just signing off to get a peaceful sleep after some tension filled nights!

Image Courtesy
http://maximizingmomentum.com (original)

13 May 2009


Are you?

Today at quarter past four in the evening, when I perched out of my home, I was amongst the last few Indians who were going to use their right to vote in this month long election saga.
It was my first time. Pressing that button and hearing the beep of conformance ended the game for me but the real political game starts now.
Lets see what happens!!!

Image Courtesy

Self-Photographed (edited)