Raka calling...

Update: This blog is the winner of The Chronicwriter Best Blog of the Year award 2008

Short story

I dont like waking up early..Not one bit...Just like Obama doesnt like Osama inspite of having such similar sounding names..
I dont like early morning calls on my cell.. Not even on my birthday.. Well 8 in the morning is not exactly early morning, but what the heck!
Anyone who has been my friend knows this.. All my bday wishes start pouring in only after 10 am..

We gonna have a party..turn the music up..
lets get it started..go ahead n move your butt..

I hate my ringtone.. I mean Eminem's Shake that is good all day long, but early morning even he sucks.. I rubbed my eyes and looked at the caller id.. I looked at the watch.. 8 am in the morning..Who could be calling me at this unearthly hour..

Raka calling..

That sent my thoughts running..
Raka is the name I gave to Rakesh. Rakesh was in my college.. I hated him the first day I met him.. He was very in-your-face.. too bubbly if you may call a guy that.. His youthfulness pissed me off.. He would always be chirpy, even in the mornings...every 9am lecture he and the professor would be the only two guys awake in the classroom.. I soo hate early mornings.. More than that I hate morning people

We had different groups, his group was the nerdy one, mine was the influential one..I guess we became friends when my group had a fight with his group.. Like most fights I have no idea of the reason why we were fighting.. It wasnt like a fist fight, but I almost punched him in the face..

He was quite a character this guy Rakesh.. At 6'2" he was the only guy taller than me in the group.. He was what girls like to call tall, dark and handsome..He had this devilish smile which apparently was cute to girls..He was quite the smooth talker and would have girls falling for him wherever he went..the lucky devil.. Hence the name Raka.. Rakesh is too somber for such a character..

There were times when I was jealous of him sure, even after we became best friends.. but thankfully he went after the girls who I considered outta my league.. There was this girl who both of us liked.. When he got to know that he stepped aside.. He actually helped me write poetry (since I am emotionally retarded) for her. I consulted him bout what gifts a girl likes to receive and stuff.. I wanted to gift her an Xbox.. Raka suggested a pair of earrings..(yeah.. tht sounds better)

He had a heart of gold.. He would do anything for a friend.. Hes the one you want to be around if you get in deep shit in life ever...Raka was always up for some masti.. He did spend a small fortune on his friends everytime someone from our group topped an exam or something..Rich dad he must have I thought..lucky devil saala..

There were 6 guys and 3 girls in our group.. He knew each of our birthdays byheart. He was the first to wish me birthday every year, year after year.... Used to wake me up at 8 in the morning on my bday.. devil saala..

"Why do u have to wish me tht early..??"
"Cant wait yaar..Its like a habit..I gotta be the first one to wish you.."
"You have to change tht habit mate.."
"You know wht they say, old habits die hard.. Some habits dont change even after you go.."
"Go where? to the loo?"
"Yeah..... idiot...."

He was also the first to ask for bday treats.. I dont know how he remembered all those dates.. Even today if you ask me Rakesh's bday, I wont be too sure.. I know its in June or was it July? Btw, the girls got a return bday present from him, the guys didnt.. devil salaa..

Around the 3rd year of college, I noticed he was gaining weight..not the kind you gain on the holiday.. He was losing hair too.. He used to miss a lot of classes..
He seemed sick.. and it seemed chronic.. I did confront him.. I wanted to know what was wrong with him and why was he not attending the lectures...But then he would flash a smile and say something hilariously stupid and that would seal the topic for then..

Around the 6th semester he stopped coming to college all together..He wouldnt answer my calls, wouldnt reply to my messages..

One of our classmates used to stay near Rakas house, we got the address from her, and showed up at his house uninformed.. His mom opened the door..

Aunty, Raka home?
Er..I mean Rakesh.. I am his college friend..
Oh.. Hes not here.. He is in the hospital..
Why? He sick? viral fever kya?

Tears swelled up her eyes..

I had known Raka for 3 years.. For more than 2 and a half years he had been my best friend.. But not once.. not even one time did he mention he was touched by cancer..

He had been undergoing chemotherapy for the last few months.. And he never told me.. devil saala..

Men have a weird way of showing hurt.. I didnt go to meet him in the hospital.. Everyone from my group and my class went.. His best friend in class didnt..

Then one day he called.. "Kya saale aaj kal milta nahi.."
They say grown men dont cry.. They were damn right.. I didnt cry.. neither did he..

I did go and meet him that afternoon.. 3 days later he left us... Everyone in our class cried...I didnt..

Its been 6 months since he left us.. I miss him sometimes.. But I dont cry..

My string of thoughts was broken by my mom- Your phone is ringing beta..Answer your phone..

I looked at my cell..

Raka calling...

Hello beta.. This is Rakesh's mother calling..
Ah..hello Aunty..
Many happy returns of the day, beta..
Er.. thank you aunty, but.. but.. how did you know?
Oh..Rakesh had set an alarm on his cell for your birthday..So I called you on his behalf..

Tears ran down my cheeks..
Hes gone, but he was still the first one to call me on my birthday.. devil saala..

P.S. - Inspired from a true story. Rakesh was a friend of a friend..
Rest In Peace mate.. Raka calling...SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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A city called Pune..

I was at Pune last week.. Now like every true blue Mumbaikar, I have been brought up to look down at every city other than Mumbai..
I wasnt expecting anything special from Pune..
I was pleasantly surprised...

Some musings...

*There r more colleges on one street of Pune than all of Mumbai.

*The rickshawalas are allowed to joke.. Rs.800 for a 6km ride at 1 am? hahahahaha... so funny..

Another time another day..
Me: Jagtap dairy? kitna?
Rick: meter+half or return
Me: Nahi re.. itna paisa nahi hai
Rick: okay.. 90
Me:nahi 30(something I learnt from my bargainin pro female frds..)
Rick: kya sahab.. chalo aapke liye 60..
Me: nahi yaar 30(man!! i am good..)
Rick: okay 50..
Me: roz ana padta hai yaar.. 50 roz-roz bahut costly hai..
Rick: (shifting to may marathi) 20 rupayat tumcha kay jaanar..
Me:(sticking to matrubhasha hindi) nahi yaar.. bahut costly hai..
Rick: aacha baitho


Btw, we got to be good friends at the end of the ride.. he told me what buses to take and what all places to visit in Pune.. I asked him if he was on orkut and what his name on his profile was but then he thought i was getting too personal.. But he did tell me that he had his Ricks pic on his profile.. I have been searching for it ever since..

*There are only two age groups in Pune less than 25 and more than 55...There is no middle aged uncles/aunties around here..You will not find anyone around 35-40 walking the streets on Pune..I dunno how they do it..But I gotta feeling that the Govt. secretly kidnaps guys who are more than 25 yrs and less than 55.. To me, it looks like a social experiment.. Someone's got a better theory?

*Darvin derived inspiration for his theory of "Survival of the fittest" from the the Pune traffic.. The driving skills possessed by Punekars would make a Andheri bred-SV road driving-foul mouthing-horn honking rickshaw driver envious.. Punekars drive like they are playing a PC game.. Its like they gain extra point for cutting lanes and overtaking on flyovers..
If you dont overtake someone from the wrong side in the first 3 mins of driving its considered a foul.. You are red carded and ejected from the game for 90 mins.. what? seriously!!!

*The girls here are pretty, or so you guess..coz all of them have scarves around their faces with only their eyes showing... A lil tid-bit- Men in Afghanistan can tell a burkha clad womans age and how beautiful she must be just by noticing the spring in her step..Infact there are stories about how these Afghani men caught burkha clad female Russian spies just by noticing their walk.. I have become pretty much the Afghan myself...

*There so many scarves sold here... Girls, you know!!rolleyes they have like 7 diff scarves for 7 different days - (baby pink for Monday, green for Tuesday, turquoise for Wednesday etc.).. btw, turquoise is a female version of blue..
According to the last budget 07-08, the sale of scarves in Pune contributes 0.3% to the country's GDP.. Its the second biggest industry in Pune after IT.. mrgreen

*Koli was driving me around the city one day when this scarf clad girl picked up a race against us.. She beat us for the first half of the race, but the male chauvinists that we are mrgreen we werent ready to accept defeat from a lady rider.. Koli revved up the engine and beat her to the Pune university(thts where she was going we figured out).. For the record, the girl had an Activa while we had a fully loaded 150cc Xtreme..mrgreen

*Pune is one of the few places which has an ideal boy-girl ratio.. Apparently ever guy with a bike has a girl(scarf-clad ofcourse..) on the back seat.. In much anticipation I asked my frds if they had found someone special, they hadnt.. it turns out they didnt have bikes!! Two of them had cars though, but as it turns out, cars dont do the trick.. How do u spell l-o-s-e-r-s?twisted

*The apartments that I stayed in Pune deserve a special mention.. I stayed near the IT park in the burbs.. Huge apartments they have.. I stay in a 3BHK here in mumbai but flats in Pune are wayyy bigger... and their balconies.. hugeee balconies(half the size of the my bedroom)..The living room is the size of Eden gardens.. You could actually play Test matches there..(one tappi out ofcourse)

*I cant do without mentioning the weather..The weather is pleasant..
There was this day when I went sight seeing, I walked around 7-8 kms that afternoon, and not a drop of sweat!!
It doesnt rain tht much, but the temperature drops a good 5 degrees every night...With balconies big enough for you to play golf in, the evening is the best time to sit out there and soak in the scenery..
Both the apartments that I stayed in during the visit were on the 7th floor and offered quite a view of the city.. One word - Beautiful.. Dont tell Mumbai, but this was the first time I thought of settling outside mumbai..

If I have to compare between Mumbai and Pune, I would say Mumbai is like a middleaged businesswoman..(It has to be a woman, a man wont wear the queen's necklace now, would he?) Shes well established, respected and powerful.. She has worked hard to get where she is now.. shes always busy..she never sleeps...shes enterprising.. shes colourful.. shes fantastic!

Pune on the other hand is a 15 yr old.. Shes fun loving.. Shes beautiful, just like most girls are when they are 15.. shes got a few pimples here and there, but they only add to her beauty.. Shes growing up.. shes busy, but not coz she has to attend business meetings, shes busy coz she has to meet her frds or go shopping or do other girlie stuff..

As different as they are, they both are special in their own way...For the first time I am finding it difficult to choose between Mumbai and some other city.. And I thought this day would never come..

Special thanks to the guys who had to bear my company: Harish, Amit, Hemant, Suru, Ambrish, Abhjit and Koli.. All of them SPCEites.. What camaraderie!
Special thanks to Rishikesh aka monu

Thank you for the memories..
A city called Pune..SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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Let the games begin!

Let the Games begin!

No one gave me a chance..
Winning is not for you mate.. you can just dream..
10 years of hard work so that we can live this dream..
They said you can try, but you can never win..
I had to prove them wrong, now let the games begin..

If I had won a silver, they would say
oh, it aint that great!
He must be lucky, must be an aftereffect of the eight-eight-eight
But what do you know! Today aint eight!
And its a gold, not a silver, man its fricking great!
Everyday aint Sunday, every season aint spring..
I did my best, now let the games begin..

One billion people... are jumping up their seats
The curtain closes... they throwing roses at my feet..
Thank you all.. you make me feel a star..
I am glad...glad that I could raise the bar..
I beat them all..all of them in the Dragon's den,
The tiger growls, now let the games begin..

Girls dont have my picture up their walls,
Dhoni neednt perform always to get the dolls..
Not many like a man with a gun,
the police, the gangster, either one..
But after everythings said and done
I just have a gun..
What can I do?
-give my best at the five rings..
I know you care, let the games begin..

Kapil is still on TV selling shoes, Milkha no one knows about..
I got us the gold, after a 28 year drought..
Its an achievement, its a new dawn..
I wonder if you will remember my name, after I m gone..
But its just one gold, I hope one day we get ten,
And now....ladies and gentlemen...let the games begin..

-Arshat Chaudhary (for Abhinav Bindra)

Dedicated to Abhinav Bindra, the winner of the Gold medal(10m air rifle) at the 2008 Olympics..
This is India's first Individual Gold at the Olympics ever..

P.S. The post derives its poetic inspiration from Eminem's "When I am gone"..

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Top 5: Songs in the last 12 months

I have come to believe there are not as many good songs coming out nowadays like they used to when I was 15-16 yrs old.. I mean look at AR Rehman, even hes dishing out mediocre stuff like Jaane Tu(mediocre by Rehman stds). Even the English songs are not much to write home about.. No Shania Twain, no Eminem, no James Blunt, no nothing..

So I had a tough time trying to find 5 songs in the last 12 months which have echoed in the walls of my brain..(Echoing songs dont mean my brain is empty, its just an expression)
Here goes my list..

1. Rihanna:Umbrella
First heard on: July 14, 2007

This song always reminds me of Siemens.. I had just joined the company when this song was released.. Rihanna played in my head all day long I remember..
And when she went "Under my umberella..ella..ella..ae..ae.. Under my umberella", I couldnt help but drool...

2.Chamillionaire: Hip Hop Police
First heard on: Dec 4, 2008

"Go, Go , Go , Go , Go , Go
Keep runnin' homie"
He came, He rapped, He conquered.. One of the most stylist hip hop lyrics in the last year.. The video was well shot, just made you hip hop along with Chamillionaire..
"A big celebrity, a case we long for
You a pirate, Why you got that eyepatch on for?"
Dont miss this one mate..

3.Atif Aslam: Pehli Nazar
First heard on: Feb20, 2008

The only hindi song that has impressed me in the last one year.. I know its a direct lift from tht Korean song.. I mean how can we copy from Korean songs!! Didnt we detest anything thts made in Korea, Taiwan or China?

But still, the Korean version (as expected) is inferior to the Indian one.. What do we have that they dont? Well, we have Atif!!! Actually, we dont have him, Pakistan has him.. But Pakistan was formerly a part of India.. (Do I see Musharraf's planes heading for my house?)

When he went... "Wooo jaane jaaa.. dono jahan ... meri baahon mein aa.. bhul jaa.. woo..oo".. Time stopped.. My heart skipped a beat, or maybe two or maybe three..er.. well, u get the point..

4. Wyclef John feat Akon:Dollar dollar bill ya
First heard on: June 2, 2008

*OFFICIAL VIDEO* Sweetest Girl- Wyclef Jean, Akon, and Lil Wayne

The song is okay.. okay only till you dont have Akon starting to croon.. When he starts with his stanza.. - "See, I'm a tell you, like WU told me,
Cash rules everything, around me..
Singin dollar dollar bill ya..
dollar dollar bill ya.."
WU here is Western Union.. Yeah Lyrics actually make sense..

5.Nickelback: Rockstar
First heard on: July 10, 2008

The Lyrics, the Song, the band, the legend!
Nickelback does it again..
The Lyrics are what most sadhus in Hrishikesh are trying to find out..

So tell me how u gonna do it?
I'm gonna trade this life for fortune and fame
I'd even cut my hair and change my name

'Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars
And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars
The girls come easy and the d**** come cheap
We'll all stay skinny 'cause we just won't eat
And we'll hang out in the coolest bars
In the VIP with the movie stars
Every good gold digger's
Gonna wind up there
Every Playboy bunny
With her bleach blond hair

Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar
Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar

If someone asked me 2 years ago..
What do you want in life?.. Er.. me? er.. i dunno..
If someone asked me 2day..
What do you want in life? Heya heya.. I wanna be a rockstar! Top 5: Songs in the last 12 monthsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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