Note: Annoying and preachy post.

"There should be a semi-colon here," she said pointing her finger against my laptop screen. I looked in her sky blue eyes, a shade darker than the sky blue on a clear summer day. We were working on a report that we had to submit in a hour's time. Frankly, I would have liked get the thing over with in 15 minutes and then just relax with a cup of coffee in the cafeteria for the rest 45 minutes day-dreaming. I was in Germany. One could keep staring at the fallen snow - snow can make you think.

"It is not important." I said. Yes, it wasnt. What importance does a semi colon have in a report that is 16 pages long! At first, I thought it was my male ego rejecting an improvement by a girl (who might be a couple of times more intelligent than me), but then when I thought about it objectively - Did the the absence of a semi-colon reduce the quality of the content in any way? - I thought I was correct, the semi-colon isnt important.

"It is important. It might not change the meaning, but it should be there. Also, you have two spaces here instead of one, that has to go too.." she said pointing to the double space between two words.

"If that is a problem, then you can go ahead correct all of this." I am not very accepting to criticism as you can tell. I walked up to the coffee machine and pressed the buttons angrily. She tucked a strand of her blonde hair behind her ear and started working.

After she was done, I was still a little miffed, but she was happy. We just managed to upload the file in time, instead of being 45 minutes early and having all that time to day-dream.

"But see? Now we submitted a report that is perfect in all aspects." she said.

"It was perfect when I wrote it." I can be quite a kid about my work. If I did it, it must be awesome!

She smiled. "Sure, it was." She ruffled my hair. "Now take me out for lunch, Mr.Perfect."

I didnt give up easy, while lunching (is that a word?) I asked her all sorts of questions, the most important being - Why does a missing semi-colon matter? Who cares? Does it help us get a better grade? Does it reduce the quality in any way?

"Not everything should be done for something." She said.

Wow.

"Somethings should be done because they have to be done - to make everything better."

Huh?

It took me 3 years to understand what she meant.

***

India is in a terrible state. In most of our cities the infrastructure is crumbling. One trip to Andheri-Kurla road (or Andheri or Kurla for that matter) in Mumbai and it will make you question your love for Mumbai. One trip to East Delhi and all your beliefs of smooth and wide Delhi roads will disappear. I just name two cities here, but if I start writitng the things wrong with our country, I might end up writing a book (Also if I start writing about the things that I like about India, I might end up writing two books. But that is not the point. The aim is to point out the things we suck at and get that in place)

We love mediocrity. Think about all the times you were told - "Chalega, yaar"  and it made you feel warm comfort, instead of feeling terrible that you were now dependent on someone else's assessment of whatever you have done.

We love mediocrity.Think of all the Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Rohit Shetty movies that we watch. Jawani Deewani made 100 Cr? Where is your intelligence? What about our TV shows? Name 3 good shows on Indian TV?

We love mediocrity. Look at our Politicians. We choose them. Based on caste, mostly. Now some of you who are still reading this, good educated people think that they dont choose on the basis of caste. Well, you do. Maybe not caste, but friendship. If there was a election tomorrow in your office or college, and a friend, not a close friend, but the kind you smile and wave at, is standing in the election, versus a guy who actually has a plan to make the office/college(canteen) a better place, you would choose the guy you smile and wave at. He/she is known, hence safer. That is exactly what the uneducated do.

We love mediocrity. While choosing an umbrella, we choose the cheapest one, not the one built to last. Nothing today is built to last.

But we were not always like this. Did you hear about the floods in Uttarakhand? How all the houses were washed away but a temple built 1300 years ago stood intact? What are we constructing that will stay standing in 3313 AD? The Bandra-Worli sea link? Cuffe Parade? Lutyens, Delhi? The airports? They cant even handle a couple of rainshowers.

If you get time, have a look at the old buildings, british buildings, no, not necessarily british buildings. We unnecessarily put them on a pedestal. Go have a look at the buildings Maharajas built. They lost their kingdoms, in 1800s, had money, but not as much as they did pre 1800s, still, when you have a look at what they built - it was built to last! They were Indians just like you and me! They didnt have blue eyes or blonde hair. They spoke the same language as we do. They had access to the same literature and values as we did.

So what has changed? The power shifted to the people's hands. Now 70% of India's uneducated population took control (It is convenient to blame the British for all our problems, but this problem was particularly caused by them over 150 years of their rule. Sure they introduced school and there were more people who could read and write now, but as you know literacy and education arent synonms.Case in point - Australia ) Now they chose who will rule us. As time passed, India's uneducated population increased. And today it must be close to 90% (again, literacy and education have no relation. See that Goswami guy on TV and you will know what I mean)

Solution?

No immidiate solution. But if this happens - A dynamic leader comes along, well meaning leader, and by some marketing genius manages to sell his idea across states and castes, and sits on the throne - and rules it for the next 5 years, like a king, and not like a minister, things will start changing.

***

I am an eternal optimist. I have faith in the country and its people. But each of us will have to identify where we are missing the semi-colons. Are we submitting our reports too early. Are we doing everything we are supposed to do to make things perfect?

"Somethings should be done because they have to be done - to make everything better." Will we remember that?


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WeChat with Anyone, Anywhere

I dont normally participate in contests, but recently I have been lacking any drive to write. Plus I have no inspiration - I sincerely believe that there has to be a certain degree of velapanti in your life to have inspiration.

So, the other day I was reading about this WeChat contest- Now this is pretty cool - If I could chat with 5 people on WeChat, living, dead, or (most importantly) fictional, who would they be? (Have a look here http://www.youtube.com/user/WeChatIndia?feature=chclk)

This got me thinking. If I could have 5 people, anyone whom I adore, and love, or have naughty dreams about - How awesome would it be, to be able to chat with them (not to mention - for free - heh heh, I'm cheap)

So after a lot of thinking and mulling over, I have decided who it should be.

M.S.Dhoni :


 I have always been amazed by his coolness on the field. Nothing seems to faze him. I see the world through my point of view, and I can't imagine being as relaxed as he is in pressure situations. My favourite Dhoni moment (and there are quite a few of those) has to be the six of the last ball in the World Cup finals. Some might say he does it to hog the limelight, but my point is, if it goes wrong, the Indian fans, fickle as they are, would want his head. Things seldom go wrong. And there is a very sage concept behind it. So wise is this concept that MSD once mentioned it in passing and nobody has made a note of it. This is what he said after winning a really tight match (I don't remember which game, sorry!)-

"I told him (the non-striker) that we should bat for another 5 overs, then as the pressure builds up, their (the opponent's) heartbeats will become faster and they will make mistakes."

Ah! Genius. Such a simple funda! And trust me, this can be applied to any situation (even huge corporate real estate deals, as I do on a daily basis). I would want him to talk more on such strategies (more like life hacks!)

Eminem:

"You better Loooose yourrrrself, In the muuuu.... usic the moo.. ment you own it.. you better never let it go..go..go"
This guy, for the lack of a better word, is brilliant. Poets will be born, and Poets will die. Wordsworth was born, Wordsworth died. Coleridge was born, Coleridge died. Sure, we read their stuff in textbooks, they were incredible, and yet not half as incredible as Eminem is. Yes, I compared those greats with this great.
Eminem entered an industry that wasnt very friendly to whites and made it his own. Other rappers during his time might have been socially more relevant, but one day, they wouldnt be. Eminem however raps about the unfailing human spirit. That is why I feel, one day my son will be as big a fan of him, as I am and then, his son.

I would want to know from him, how the hell did he manage to rhyme Orange. You know they say nothing rhymes with Orange? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRX8sXdCkfo

Hrishitaa bhat:

This is the part about the naughty dreams. Wink. Wink. Subtlty is not my strength as you can see.
I remember watching her face light the screen in that dingy one-screen hall, that turned off the AC after the first 15 minutes of the movie and fans creaking formed the background score. Khaitan fans and not AR Rahman is India's best music director. Anyway, the movie was called Asoka and Hrishita Bhat had a small role. She shared the screen with SRK and Kareena, but I couldnt keep my eyes off her. I dont think I ever wanted to marrry her, but it would be nice to know her. WeChat allows voice chat too as I understand. It would be nice to talk to her (for free.. heh heh... sheesh)


Ronald McDonald:

I find this guy very interesting. His mannequin (or whatever that guy sitting on the bench outside every McDonald's is called) must be the most photographed figure in the world! Kids (and the kids at heart) all around the world sit next to him and click pictures. I dont see the point - It's not like that you are clicking a picture against the Taj Mahal. Here is only the world's best known clown!

I dont think I have ever heard him talk - But I want to. I want to know what all cities he has been to. And what McDonalds serves what. He must have tons of stories I am sure. I want to know if they serve wine in the McDonalds at Paris and do they serve Squid in Tokyo. What McDonalds are the noisest and where are the people the most polite. Yes, I want to know.


My Grandfather: 

Or Baba, as I called him. I was 10 years old when he passed away. He owned some land in the village and he liked staying there. So we would meet only during summer vacations. I have spent some lovely summers with him. He would take me fruit plucking. I found it fascinating that he knew so much about plants and valued all living things around him. When he would wake up in the morning, before putting his feet on the ground, he would do a formal namaskar to the ground. The ground, earth, he said was the mother. She gives us foodgrains to eat and fruits and vegetables. While I dont personally thank the earth every morning before I wake up, I do keep this in mind. Apart from the things we learn in school, history, math, science, there are somethings only a grandfather can teach you. I wish a I get a chance to talk to him at least once, even if it is through WeChat, for as low as 20 minutes, there are so many things I want to ask him, I want to validate so many things that I have learnt over my adult life. I want to tell him about my love for plants which clearly is his gift to me. I want to tell him how some of his teachings have made me a better person. I want him to tell me stories, scold me for the things he finds wrong, pat my back if he feels I have accomplished something, all this in 20 minutes.

If only this wasnt a contest. If only instead of giving me a prize, they could give me this.



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