the 3 mistakes of my life...

I finished reading Chetan Bhagat’s new offering “The 3 mistakes of my life”. It’s the story of one Govind Patel, a 25 yr old businessman. The story is set in Ahmedabad. Chetan’s story telling abilities come to the fore as he takes the story through different different episodes, spanning three years or so…

The reason why 5 point someone, Chetan’s first book, was such a hit, coz he made the story seem like his own. His writing is blog like, no hi-fi words, no phrases, just simple feel good stories… Btw, if you thought Chetan was actually a 5 pointer, u are mistaken..Chetan has always dodged questions related to his GPA in IIT.. But the point is, the fabulous characterization makes readers believe that he is incidents which actually took place.. This superb semi-fictional style of writing coupled with fantastic characterization makes Chetan such a favorite among twentysomethings..

Coming to 3 mistakes.. 3 mistakes, as far as characterization is considered is a sequel to 5 point… The characters Govind, Ishant, Omi and Vidya are photocopies of Hari, Ryan, Alok and Neha respectively.. Vidya whos Govind’s love interest is precariously close to Neha’s character.. She has the same smile,same hair, same round face.. She even wears the same clothes as Neha.. Sometimes I had to wonder if Vidya was actually wearing Neha’s hand-me-downs.

The story goes through many episodes- Bhuj earthquake, terrorist attack on the two towers, Godhra riots.. While it may be unnerving for any other writer to research and write about all this, Chetan does it with flair..

Would I recommend “3 mistakes..”?? Ofcourse I would, read it if you liked “5 point..”. If you didn’t like 5 point, which is weird, then don’t read it.. I think only if you read books like - The Alchemist and The Fountainhead in the 8th grade, and don’t like light reading should you keep away from “3 mistakes..”, else, it’s a buy!

Like Govind would say -
Its a straight 6!..

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Mulund riots..

If we resort to lawlessness, the only thing we can hope for is civil war, untold bloodshed, and the end of our dreams.

A Sikh protestor was shot at by one Ram Rahim Singh's bodyguard near Nirmal Lifestyles, Mulund Watch the video here

The outraged sikhs blocked roads and stopped local trains and buses in mulund..

I was at home that day receiving calls from friends asking me to stay inside. One of my friends was caught up at some shop near Mulund station. Mulund station had seen most of the rioting since morning..They were showing clips of men with swords ransacking the station... I couldnt get through her on her cell, a sms later, she called me, she sounded tense.. She told me that she was walking from the station to her house.. I asked her where she was and if I should come and pick her up.. But it seemed that no private vehicles were allowed to run through the streets, I had to get there on foot... The place where she was stranded was downhill, and I knew if I run fast enough, I will reach there pretty quick...

I started outta my house, I havent felt this unsafe within 100mts from my house ever in my life.. And I have been on the these streets as late as 3 am... I could only see police vans all around. There were very few private vehicles... Pulsars and Indicas and most of them had Sardars riding it... While I was running along, someone threw a heavy metal box in my direction.. It wasnt meant to hurt or anything, I think.. I looked around there were sardars walking along..It couldnt be them, they were too far away... I contemplated going back home.. And I would have, had it not been for a friend..

I kept walking, my eyes searching for her everywhere.. I saw her, actually she saw me first and waved at me.. She gave me a smile that I have gotten used to over the years.. As I walked her to her house, she said between sobs..

"I thought they were a peace loving community..."
"Why so? coz Karan Johar has them in his movies, laughing and joking?", I said..

She always had prejudices(A friend explained, that this case is more of a stereotype).. all of us do, but its been preprejudice for her..
But as we were walking I wondered why I hadnt been shocked at the fury unleashed by them.. Aint I more prejudiced than her? And in a worse way...

We reached her house, she said thanks and I looked at her, I had respect for her. She was a brave girl. She saw people go beserk.. She saw men brandishing swords and knives.. She saw them rioting.. And her she was trying to put up a brave face, I could make out that she had been crying.. I wonder if I would have enough guts to walk all the way from the station to here like she did..

As I walked back to my house, I wondered if there was such a thing as a peace loving community..

Gujratis and Tamil are a peace loving communities.. I have some Gujrati friends... I love their dhoklas and the importance of colour in their lives, their flamboyance... And I like the fact that they are a peace loving community.. But werent Gujratis involved in Gujrat riots?
I have many Tamil friends, some of them very close to my heart... I have always seen them as peace loving community.. But isnt LTTE a tamil terrorist organisation?
Maybe the illiterate arent peace loving then.. But then what about the AIIMS doctors who when on strike dont attend patients.. Isnt that equivalent to rioting, taking people's lives?

1 billion people living in India.. The worlds most densely populated country.. Jam packed trains and buses.. Encroached footpaths, system abused , blatant twisting of rules... Even after all this we are able to live in harmony.. I read somewhere, "if so many Germans, Italians or French lived in a country this big, there would be bloodshed... "

I dont think there is any other country more tolerant than India.. And considering the number of people who are packed here and the poverty, I dont think theres a country more peace loving than India..

So what goes wrong in times like these? What happens to Indian who usually says "Chalta hai" when he doesnt get a place to sit in the trains or when there is no footpath to walk on or when manholes are left open without covers...?

Indians only get angry when you mess with their beliefs.. Even the Mutiny of 1857 took place coz the British tried to mess with our beliefs.. And they were smart enough not to do that again in the next 100 years that they ruled India!

I dont think anyone supports rioting, not even the ones who participate in it, unless they are paid for it...Riot is their way to get heard, which ofcourse is wrong, but is timetested and the easiest way to get the concerned people to take notice... As we grow more as a country and get ourselves educated, we will refrain from rioting.. There are other ways to be heard... And these ways are definitely more peaceful and in the long run, more rewarding...

The single clenched fist lifted and ready,
Or the open hand held out and waiting.
For we meet by one or the other. Mulund riots..SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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One bedroom extra...

Inspired from a mail that a friend mailed me...
This story is purely ficitional..
Update: Its not tht I believe in the story or anything.. I just developed a short story which a friend had mailed me..

Dated: 17 August 2047

As I sit at my desk by the window, I can see that its raining heavily outside.. The wind sprays raindrops on my e-writer as I scribble this story in..I can see the Queens necklace from my window. The waves lashing against the tetrapod barricades.. Its weird how much it rains nowadays.. Or maybe it just seems like that from my 24th floor 2BHK apartment on Marine drive. They had to demolish two colonial style old buildings that stood here to make way for this one..

The day before, India celebrated its 100th anniversary of freedom.. Freedom..Its is such a word.. I remember when I wanted to be free. But that was long ago.. That was when I was 40 or maybe 30.. I am 62 now and I think I am free, but I dont feel free.. I feel incomplete, and I dont know why..

I did my Computer Engineering from the best college in my state.. I topped the university exams in the 3rd and the final year.. My mom and dad, both teachers in a govt. college had worked all their life to give me the best education they could. Their joy knew no bounds when I got selected in one of the most coveted universities in the US...

It was a dream for most middle class parents who stayed in 1BHK apartment in the central suburbs of the city... It was the middle class Indian dream to get settled in the US around the early 2000s. It was the love for everything foreign and dollars ofcourse when it was stronger.. Kids nowadays dont believe that there was a time when 1$ was equal to 40 Indian rupees.. Seems like such a joke now.. Another joke is the electric cars these people are selling nowadays. They dont even feel like cars. I miss the petrol cars they had in olden days.. But with petrol prices hitting Rs.1373/ litre, I dont think we can afford them anymore..

I worked for Apple once I got my MS degree... I remember my uncle telling me, "Beta, work in the US for a few years if you want, but come back to India once you earn enough dollars.. settle down here.. This is where the heart is..." He was right.. My heart was here in India.. But you know what? You never know how many dollars are enough dollars...

When I was working in Apple, I met a beautiful American girl.. Her name was Catherine... She had the nicest smile and prettiest blue eyes and long golden curls... Though her looks were American, she was very Indian in more than one way.. She was shy and was religious and she believed in a lot of things Indian girls believe in...

My parents didnt approve of her ofcourse, and her parents werent too excited bout me either.. The cultural divide started to show, and I decided in the favour of my family's wishes.." If I dont marry you, I wont marry at all...", Catherine once told me... I got married to a beautiful girl from my caste in the 12 days leave that I had been granted the next year.. I was amazed at the number of families who wanted their daughters married off to a engg in the US.. My dad started looking for a bride just a month before my marriage, and he says that there were a little over a hundred proposals that I had got in just the first week!!

Once we were back in the US, my wife, Ragini, found it difficult to get adjusted there.. I was getting promoted in office and I was setting up my own business, I rarely got time home.. My 8 to 10 routine irritated her.. But I had to do it for my future.. I was gonna have kids someday.. And education in the US is goddamn costly.. I wanted them to get the best possible education, just like my parents had wanted for me..

We were blessed with a baby girl-Revati and then in 4 years a baby boy-Arkaj.. I loved them so much and I so wanted to spend time with them, but I was a slave to my job and could never be around.. I became a Sunday dad..

My dad told me before I was leaving for the states, "Once you come back here, we can buy a 2BHK house, just like we always wanted.. And then you and your wife and me and my wife can live together.." I remember smiling sheepishly at the mention of my marriage... He winked at me with a mischievous smile.. He expired one year after Arkaj was born.. I kissed his hand and said, "Sorry, I couldnt buy that 2BHK flat... Sorry, me and my wife and you and your wife couldnt live together".
I left the evening they cremated him. I offered mom to come with me to the US.. She refused..

The years flew and Revati started dating, most of the guys were American and called her Revs or sumthing like that.. I didnt like any of them, they just didnt seem like the guys my daughter should be dating..

I lost my job in the recession of 2039. I was 54 then..I lost a lot of money in my business. But I still had enough reserves to last me 5 years till I figured out what to do next.. I chose to come back to India like I always wanted.. My wife was too happy. My kids werent. Revati was in love with an American Andrew who taught psychology at her university. He was a full 10 years older than her. We didnt approve of the match, but somehow we werent important anymore.. Arkaj was studying Engineering in Boston university and couldnt possibly join us here..

My dad always wanted to live by the sea and he always wanted a 2BHK, so with all the money I made in the last 20yrs, I put in a 2BHK apartment near Marine Drive. I was stunned to see how much the realty rates had gone up in these 30 years...

3 years ago Ragini expired.. She was diagnosed with cancer. I arranged for the best of doctors. They couldnt help much. Revati came to India when we cremated her, she stayed with me for a week... Arkaj had to leave the next evening..
Arkaj offered me to live with him in the US.. I refused...

Revati gave birth to a lovely baby girl, they say shes got Andrew's blue eyes. Arkaj got married two years ago. The girl is Indian. Things didnt go well between them..Arkaj tells me that he will soon be filing for divorce. Catherine expired from a heart attack last year, a friend told me. She had made a huge loss on the stock market crash.. She never did marry...

As I stroll around my empty apartment, I wonder what I have earned in all these years... I wonder if my dad earned any less than me.. My dad owned a 1BHK in Ghatkopar.. I own a 2BHK near Marine Drive.. As I look by all the lost years, I wonder where did the years go.. My kids had never known their dad.. I didnt give enough time to my wife.. I was with not with my parents when they wanted me..

And at the end of all this, do I own more than my parents did.. What do I have that my parents didnt? What did I get for doing all this...All this for what?All this for a 2BHK? All this for one bedroom extra?

The End. One bedroom extra...SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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Cricket in the rain......

Last week Mumbai got its first rains. We were playing cricket when it started to rain.. We continued to play in the rain. The musings (calling this a poem will be like calling Sunny deol a pole dancer..)below tht I have tried being poetic at are inspired from that evening and many other such evenings.
The ground I am talking about here is the Esis ground, though it isnt very big, its to me what Eden is to Ganguly. Its my home ground(in the true sense.. Its just outside my house..).

More Lightening More rain...

I love this ground... I have been here many years around..
I have played a zillion games here u know, I have a million bruises on my knee to show..

Love this ground more, when it rains and pours..
Its raining now and its good as it gets, mud rain grass and sweat..

(chorus)More Lightening more rain..
No pain, No pain(chorus)

Its a war here, am covered with cuts and scratches..
Take all those catches kid..coz Catches win matches..

Run saved, elbow bruised, I dont bowl a wide

Every ball bowled sends shivers (sic!) down their spine

(chorus)More Lightening more rain..
No pain, No pain(chorus)

I bowl with the aim at your heart.. The ball just skids off the wet pitch fast..
Bulls eye..Skid, slip hes on the ground.. Dont mess with me son, Right arm around..

Fast i m bowling ...130s down your throat..okay?
The ball kisses the stump off the ground.. It a wicket.. Die another day..

(chorus)More Lightening more rain..
No pain, No pain(chorus)

I am burning inside, the cold rain turns to steam,
When I run in to bowl, they say its a dream..

Is it sweat or is it rain?
I have been running from ages now, m drained.. m drained..

(chorus)More Lightening more rain..
No pain, No pain(chorus)

Ran the first run quickly, turn for the second one..
Gods seem to be watching, thunder on every run

The pitch is now slippery, as slippery as grease..
I still come down the wicket boy, I wont stay behind the crease..

(chorus)More Lightening more rain..
No pain, No pain(chorus)

Dancing down the wicket, to the pitch of the ball
you can catch the ball on the boundary dude, but u gotta be 13 feet tall

Over the top in the air the ball outta ground..
A lightening just strikes then, the second time around..

(chorus)More Lightening more rain..
No pain, No pain(chorus)

Inswing, out swing they all get hammered..
This match is just swinging our way, just the way we plannered..

I am what I am.. I try my best...
I got Reebok printed, right across my chest...

(chorus)More Lightening more rain..
No pain, No pain(chorus)

Strike here and a strike there, the winning runs get scored..
The opponents arent gonna play the next game, man they r sore..

Handshakes all around, well played mate..
off field we arent blood thirsty, we sure can be friends..

(chorus)More Lightening more rain..
No pain, No pain(chorus)


Post match chat:
Boy 1: kal aa raha hai kya?
Boy 2: nahi be.. exam hai
Boy 1: Shit! tera shirt dekh.. kitna dirty ho gaya hai..
Boy 2: Mummy daategi re..
Boy 1: Mujhe toh ghar ke andar bhi nahi lenge.. I just hope mujhe kapde na dhone bole!
Boy 2: hehehe.. Best of luck with that!

Dedicated to everyone who has played on the Esis ground: Pranay-Abhi, sonu-monu, babloo-papu, Deepak, sid-viraj, Prekshit-Apekshit, Swapnil, Abhishek, Tanay, Faraz-Sarim, Chetan, Pakshi, Tinu-Debu, sudhir, girish, swanand-pintu, tejas, pranav, rajas
Adding my cousins who have played a fair deal of matches on this ground: Aroop-chotu
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It rained that night:26 July

Mumbai aapko jeena sikhati hai... -Manoj Bajpai (An excerpt from an interview)

I hated travelling to college..Its a long 2 hour travel one-way(subject of another post). It starts with finding a rickshaw to Mulund station and ends with you getting all sweaty and covered with grime and dirt as you reach Andheri. And your day hasnt even started yet...

Now that I have cribbed enough, let me start on my story. This story is dated 26 July 2005

9:44am-I enter the classroom. 44 mins late for the 9 am lecture.
9:47-Imran enters the classroom. Of all the days I have come late, this man has always topped my record. Btw, Imran stays in Lokhandwala and it takes him 10mins to reach college confused
10:05- There's been a light drizzle all morning. By now it has started raining as it does in July..
12:00-Its been raining in the true Mumbaiya style for the past 2 hrs... Some guys in the class are thinking of cancelling the practicals at 2:00pm
12:05-Calls are made to the lecturer concerned, he turns down all requests of a cancellation.
1:00- Lunch break. Some guys get down to the ground floor to the canteen and find water gushing in slowly.
1:15- Word spreads. Franctic calls all around. Calls made to the lecturer. It seems he hasnt made it to college yet. Hes out sumwhere in Andheri W running errands in office time ofcourse. Welcome to the only Govt Engineering college in Mumbai.
2:10-No sign of the lecturer. Some guys start leaving. More calls made.
2:30- Lecturer calls some guys cell, only to say tht he wont be coming today. Precious 20 mins lost.
2:35-Koli, Chetan and I start what will be the most unforgetable journey of our lives.
We wade through knee deep water outside college, but tth is normal in the month of July. Its not raining now, just a light drizzle. We dont really understand the gravity of the situation.
3:07- We take the train to dadar.
3:27- The train moves smoothly. We reach dadar. No one has the slightest idea that the journey from here will make us change our outlook towards life. This journey will test our will to fight. This journey will show us whether we are strong enough.
3:33- Dadar central. Trains are running awfully late. A train arrives ever so slowly. You could see ppl hanging out from the doors.Its raining cats and dogs now, and the ones hanging out are wet to the bone... Trains dont run this full at 3 pm in the afternoon. Something was wrong here..
Chetan got into the train, me and koli tried gettin in, but couldnt make it in..
3:35- Call Chetan - "Abbe tu ghus gaya kya?" "Haan.. chod next train se aa ja.." "thik hai..chal bye"
3:44- We get into the next train. As it turns out, this will be the last train to move out of dadar station tht day. The train moves ever so slowly through Matunga, Sion.. you could actually hear the train cutting through 1 feet of water on the tracks. Then it comes to a halt at Kurla station.
4:20- Its been 15 mins since the local has been standing there. Locals dont stand for more than 15 secs at any station. Something was definitely wrong. Call Chetan- No network available. All networks down.
4:30- Koli and I discuss the chances of this train moving. Ofcourse the downpour has to stop, and once it does the train will get out of here and we will reach home. We were cursing ourselves for waiting for the lecturers call. We shud hav left by 12 noon itself.
5:30- we are still inside the train, we are wet and hungry and tired. I go out to the station to take a leak, when I come back, I see tht the water level is only a feet below the level of the platform. Its still raining and doesnt look like its gonna stop anytime soon. Then it dawns on me, this train aint going nowhere... There is no way I m gonna spend the night in the train.

We decide tht we will get out from the west side of Kurla to the bus depot. From there we will take a Bus to mulund. We got out of the station only to find water everywhere. Almost 3 feet deep. Change of plan, we will get out from Kurla E and then walk to the Eastern express highway. "Highway nahi doobega! Wahan se bus sure milega" Koli reasoned..
The situation aint too good on east side of the station either. But we aint left no choice.
We walk through the 3 feet deep gutter water, wading through plastic, pieces of cloth, chappal, polythene bags.. You could see many other ppl wading through the muddy waters. We formed a Human chain when the force of the waters was too much to navigate through.
We could see half submerged Hondas and Santros along the sidelines.

Most shops were shut down except a few grocery store where some locals were buying loaves of bread.
Guys in our human chain, were exchanging numbers, so that if anything happens to any of us, atleast our folks at home could be informed.
That sent shivers down my spine.I realised that something bad could actually happen to one of us...sumthing bad could happen to me..

We reached the highway. It was relatively empty.. there were more ppl than cars on the highway and there was no sign of a best bus.

We walked through Ghatkopar, Vikhroli to Kanjurmarg. Thats 20kms for you. All along you could see ppl walking. Some who were as old as 50 walking. Some one asked a uncle who seemed really tired as to where he was walking from. "Lower parel"..That did it for me, if he can walk, so can I.

Sumwhere in between I lost Umesh. I was all alone now. The street light were not working, at it was around 9pm now. Out of the three lanes, 2 were completely submerged. I could only see water everywhere. It was not easy to makeout where the highway ended and the side trenches began. I kept walking, I could sense I was nearing Mulund. I kept walking till I was within 5 kms of my home, but I had lost the will to walk... Just then a God sent Best bus came through, i jumped in.. The bus left me at Mulund station. Mulund, which I can safely say is one of the best planned suburbs in mumbai was underwater too.. It was impossible to differentitate between the tracks and the platform. But thankfully the lights were on! It felt good to see the yellow of sodium lamps.. I got a bus from the station to my home. I reached home at 11:30. I came in and lied down on the floor in the living room with the wet clothes still on!! I had been walking for the past 6hrs. I had covered more than 30kms on foot.. I was tired, hungry and angry. Angry at the BMC, the college, the lecturer, at myself..
It could have been worse though.
Chetan spent the night on the Vidyavihar platform.
Navin and Prasad slept in the corridors of a call centre near Ghatkopar
Some guys spent the night in the college.
Some slept in Best buses, some others in local trains...

944mm of rainfall in one day.
Rs. 450 crores worth of property damaged.
Atleast 1000 dead. Hundreds missing.

Dedicated to everyone who witnessed the mayhem. Dedicated to the people who put up a fight against nature to come out victorious. Dedicated to the 1000 mothers whose sons didnt return home that day... It rained that night:26 JulySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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