Objects In The Rear View Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

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I am a low-impact traveling freak and usually, I love to travel in train. This article is based on one of my travel experiences in north India.

Bihar is beautiful region in our country. It’s full of contrast—a blend of loving and notorious people. As per the legend, if you’re traveling across that region in train, the people, who board from any station in this region, will snatch away your seat. If you object, they’ll not think twice before becoming barbaric.

So, with this deadly perspective, I once had to travel to a destination that would cross this lovely as well as notorious region. I was with a friend and we had reserved two berth in class II sleeper coach of our great Indian Railways. We boarded the train from a railway station before that region and wanted to interact with local people, so we didn’t sit on our berth. The train was stuffed with people and we let our berth be empty to see what happens. What happened next will blow your mind away and will shape this article.

There were people who already had an eye on us and our berths. One by one people started coming to us asking for a permission to sit on the empty berths. Asking? Sounds unbelievable, right? Read more.

I noticed an old man, struck by poverty, dressed shabbily with stress in eyes and sweat on body due to scorching heat. I asked him whether he would like to sleep for a while on one of our berth. On hearing me, he became a zombie and just kept watching me with amusement, wonder or surprise. I don’t know but he didn’t say a word. On insisting he occupied the empty berth. He didn’t say anything but his whole body was sharing gratitude probably because this was the first time in life he must have seen someone gift his reserved berth so some stranger. But, such are my ways to connect.

The journey was a long one and we all had many such unprecedented experiences with each other. On one side was this false belief of snatching, barbarism and one side was this polite asking etiquette of these people from Bihar.

All my life we have been fed with wrong information about certain people and, sometime, they turn out to be completely different. I don’t know if I got lucky that day, or the people are never like that but that day I realized that from far it looks like that people are disconnected but when you come close and interact with them, they’re just as loving as us. In the end, with a closer look, you find out that we all are connected.

Can Black Or White Be Auspicious or Inauspicious?

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Different cultures have different representation of colors; especially black or white. Let’s explore.

People wear white in Hindu funeral, while people black in a Christian funereal. Indian babies are applied black dot on the forehead to protect them from evil eye, while a temple for home is built with white marble. Throughout the world, black and white cars sell the most.

Cult practices like applying black dot on the forehead still rule in India. Black cat is considered evil. This suggests that black isn’t a favorable color, or we can say it’s considered inauspicious. Then how come, black dress and black car is favored? Why is the hair black? Even the stone Lingam of Lord Shiva is black?

I have explained in my earlier blog post about the science and psychology of color. Color is purely based on perception and is pure physics. So, are colors; especially black or white, auspicious and inauspicious or is it in our mind? Is black and white good or bad, or is it in our distorted life values, our hypocrisy?

We give adjective to each and every creature and phenomenon in nature. We give adjectives to animals, and demean them. We give adjectives to time, duration of the day, and disrespect natural process. Is black or white the culprit or is it our dead conscience?

Meet The Gurus Of Peace From India

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It’s a lovely Sunday morning. It’s raining heavily and my area is submerged. I am too. The only difference is that area is submerged in water and I am submerged in love, kindness, compassion, gratitude and blessings of great mentors.

As I talk about mentors, two names immediately come up in my mind—Jayesh Patel and Yogesh Mathuria. Both of them have deep impact on my life. These two men are living legends. Both are examples of a great human that one can witness in this life.

Jayeshbhai has dedicated all his life to the issue of sanitation and runs his sanitation school next to Gandhi ashram. His father dedicated all his life to sanitation too. He’s such a humble man and an ocean of compassion.

Yogeshbhai is a corporate tycoon turned peace agent and healer. He’s a messenger of peace and does his regular walking pilgrimages to connect with rural India and spread love. I also got an opportunity to walk with him—that walk has changed the way I look at world and myself.

I am submerged in blessings of these mentors and lovers who are designing my life. I am thankful to life for giving me this opportunity in this life and I hope, I’ll also touch a billion hearts in this lifetime.

Meet Roy, My First Bengali Teacher

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I met Atanu Roy while working in the animation studio I worked for 10 years.  He was quite senior to me but always-ready-to help type of a person. His humble character got us connected.

I am always learning some or the other language and Bengali was on the list; but  I wasn’t sure where to start. Atanu, came as an angel and handed me some Bengali songs. It was a beautiful team work—I would listen to the song, again and again, and he would translate and transliterate each word for me.

I heard many songs and got to know the language quickly; all with divine support of this magic friend. He made the experience of learning such simple and till date I follow the same process to learn any new language.

Chocolate Hero

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Lakshya Vedh which means ‘On Target’ is the motto displayed on the emblem of the Indian Air Force, Squadron No.3 in the north Indian province which operates as a major close air support and reconnaissance unit.

The base—called Cobras— is a usual military base except that it has a huge photograph of a young flying officer, Upkar Singh Dhillon, in the bar of the officers’ mess. Definitely a bar is the most unusual place to pay homage but he has an ode in the mess bar not actually because of his valor or dedication in service but something different which is really interesting and inspiring.

Upkar Singh had a bad childhood due to which he had developed a passion to do something really great one day, at least for one day. At 17, he joined the Indian Air Force as Leading Air-craftsman in the Indian Air Force, Squadron No.3. He was in the reconnaissance unit, which was only supposed to gather information about the enemy’s military camps. He definitely did not enjoy a photographer’s job, as he joined the force thinking of becoming a pilot. Soon, he realized that it takes more than secondary studies to become a pilot.

I am only one, but one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something and I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. I will, I can.

He believed in the above quote and after passing his internal exam, Upkar Singh Dhillon was promoted to a Flying Officer. He joined the Indian Air Force, Squadron No.3, which was involved in constant reconnaissance in east Pakistan.

Upkaa Singh received his first assignment to gather information from the Pakistani Air Force camp in east Pakistan. Although he did not like the idea of being a photographer, he gathered important information successfully. Later, he was sent for various other reconnaissance missions. Gradually, he hated himself more and more for the photography business he was doing in the force but knew that he was not trained for other tasks.

The unit regularly played a part in the spectacle of the Republic Day and other ceremonial occasions such as the passing out parade of the Indian Military Academy.

Upkar was once selected to fly his Dakota aircraft in the republic day parade. That day was an exciting for him. He wrote a letter to his friends in other unit describing the ultimate experience. A huge party was announced in the mess following this. Since then, he made the mess bar his constant companion.

तू जिंदा है तो ज़िन्दगी के गीत पर यक़ीन कर, अगर कहीं है स्वर्ग तो उतार ला ज़मीन पर.

Every day after exercises all the unit fellows would gather in the bar. He wrote a beautiful song in the bar one day which later on became the squadron anthem. The song meant that if you are alive, believe in the song of life and if there’s any heaven, bring it down to earth.

Peace prevailed and the unit was kept on standby. Meanwhile, the frustration of the photography job was getting to Upkar and he decided to discontinue the service. He could not abandon the service without a special reason or serving minimum years as mentioned by the Marshall Courts of the force, so he had no choice but to return to the unit. However, there was no sign of him returning. He decided to quit the force anyways. His job was not taking him anywhere. He felt like a big zero with more zeros ahead. He vowed never to show up again at the base.

It was the monsoon of august in 1965, when India and Pakistan decided to go to war. Squadron No.3 was shifted near the border in north India. The commanding officer issued orders for bomber units to engage in the mission as well as the close air support and reconnaissance. The need of the hour was to have more bomber pilots than mere photographers. All the extreme aircrafts were used for bombings. In this war situation, there was no other option other than to assign the reconnaissance mission to an experienced flying officer.

The unit was under emergency. Most of the pilots were in action that day. Someone had to do this dangerous job. The situation was calling for a hero ready for definite death. There was a knock at the door, all the heads just turned and stared at the door. It was Flying Officer Upkar Singh Dhillon.

The commanding officer welcomed him jubilantly, on which he replied with a pungent quote.

A false coin does not run in the market, it will always come back.

He volunteered for the mission. It was a very dangerous mission, like inviting death without reason. However, his passion to do something great one day had taken precedence to all else. He had decided to soar where the eagles dare. He assured the unit that he will return as soon as the mission is completed. The mission was named Operation Click.

We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men. Maybe I will die but the unit will win.

On 22nd September, the day he was born, he took off to click photographs. For the first time, he was proud of his job. His flight flew around the Chhamb region of northern Pakistan gathering important information. The sky was full of smoke and thunder.

The scene above looked like a horrifying battle of the worlds. His aircraft sliced the winds traveling at the speed of light. The explosions all around sounded like death was playing a loud orchestra. Hell was a half an example of this sight. Suddenly, he was informed on the radio that the images were not clear due to pollution on the field. Without a thought, the daring officer decided to fly lower for better images. However, there was enemy ground fire. So, the command came to abort the mission and return back to base.

The mission was aborted and the aircraft turned back towards the base. The dare devil was thinking deep whilst flying. There was only one life, only one chance. All his memories as a child, all his frustrations intoxicated him like a snake-bite and suddenly he gave a signal to the base.

MISSION ABORT, REVOKED: OVER.

He had made up his mind to follow the passion he was parenting all his life. His aim was now definite. He was caught on the enemy’s radar. He knew his death could escape but he had a different dream. Nobody could have expected this out of him but he sneaked his way in the valleys like a true cobra and crashed his plane in the signal unit of the enemy’s military base. The control tower kept on requesting him to return but now there was no signal. The daring officer was not responding. The last words recorded were:

OPERATION CLICK COMPLETED: OVER.

He was killed in the crash. The war was won. The unit had lost three Bomber Pilots and one Flying Officer Upkar Singh Dhillon. The efforts of Squadron No.3 were recognized and all four officers, including martyr Flying Officer Upkar Singh Dhillon were awarded the Vir Chakra.

Young Upkar had fulfilled his dream. All the units he attended were filled with tears. The martyr’s name was in all the newspapers and radio announcements for the day, while He witnessed his achievements from the heavens above. He knew he was not going to be remembered as a constant hero in history but he only wanted to be a hero someday, at least for one day and the day had arrived.

Being a martyr or receiving medals was never a part of his dream. He died so that he could be a hero. That is what modest people do. They have all the roads in their hands but will say that they are mere lines on the palms. In the mess, lavish celebrations were organized by the unit for the victory. The Commanding Officer ordered a large photograph of martyr Flying Officer Upkar Singh Dhillon to be put up on the bar wall, to pay homage to his anthem and his good times in the bar.

He observed silence for a while and signed below the photo—an ode to our chocolate hero.

This Dude Is The Wormhole To The Lost Universe, Of My Old Days

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There was a time when I was complete disconnected, and even lost. I was out of touch, rather chose to be, with my school friends. School, the wonder years, was just a lost memory until I created a WhatsApp group to connect, after 22 years.

It all started with this school friend whom I owned a long pending apology. She came to Mumbai and we met. I asked for forgiveness and was granted one. She expressed her interest to meet more friends form school. By this time, I had already created this group with a couple of friends. After her permission, I added her but she had been continuously talking about this particular name which seemed familiar—Vinay Jain.

I found him out trough Facebook and connected with him. I messaged him and ti my surprise, Vinay recognized me immediately—even after a gap of 22 years. We spoke for a while; about good old times and wonderful present. He reminded of something I did to him in last year of school that he couldn’t forget.

Nope! We’re not homosexual.

In fact, there was some visual communication exchanged that became a sweet-bitter memory. After the conversation, I added him in the group and to my surprise, within no time he added almost half the school in the group.

This man, my old friend, has a phenomenal Hippocampus. He bloody, knows the whole class of 1995. This man not only has an exceptional memory but also has a magical connection with all of them till date.

Vinay, is a not only a exceptional human being but also quite kind, compassionate and loving. He’s like an Oracle of the group—he almost knows it all. Everyone is so comfortable with him and we all love him very much. He’s the one who has connected me—like Einstein’s field theory—to my lost universe, lost time and wonder years.

I am glad to be connected to such angels in this life time. He has worked as a one of the top employees of huge corporations but yet he’s so humble and simple, accompanied by this magic friend—his son Arjun.

Regressive Topic Of Fairness In A Progressive Time

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Every year, I see hundreds of advertisements that sell the idea of fairness. I don’t know how fair it is in the 21st century but I surely know that it’s a symbol of a regressive society that we’re still holding onto.

I think it’s a dirty communication to the women.  I mean, these advertisements clearly are creating a divide in mindset of people about women based on the color of their skin. What can be dirtier? And the best part is that most of men and women are promoting these dirty advertisements. These are the same people who also vote-up for gender equality and in-discrimination.

Neither the man, nor the women are trying to stop this completely. In fact, they make huge money out of this fairness business. 

In my limited knowledge, everyone is a partner of crime—the company who makes such product, the media company who make such advertisements and the people who buy such products.

I feel such a shame whenever I see a fairness advertisement. We’re demeaning and discriminating humans on basis of color of skin. And, then we say that we’re a cultured and civilized society.

In fact, I think, we’re full of hypocrisy and then we blame and criticize others for everything. With such discrimination based on petty issues, are we seriously looking to stop rape, abuse and other crimes related, especially, to women? Does color of skin really matter? Does a fair skin really provide prosperity in life?