The Quiz That Brought Us All Together

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The founder of our school group on WhatsApp initiated a spectacular quiz contest the other day. It was about answering 9 subjective questions. And, as usual, the winner was supposed to get an exciting prize.

We were all excited and participated as much as possible. From far it seemed like just another quiz but it was very carefully crafted. All the questions were framed in such a way that it brings out hidden, buried memories of the school time.

I was trembling while answering them. A sweet-bitter pain engulfed me as I walked down the memory lane; all alone. There was no one to hold my hand, no one except these noisy memories. Life is quite silent in late 30s but the memories—of school time—shout on top of their voices.

I, suddenly, remember everything. My mischief, my mistakes, my first crush, my achievements, my failures, my innocence and all of it.

  • I remember being the class-monitor once and being sacked because I was thrown out of the class. The school principal said that it was a disgraceful thing to see the class-monitor out of the class.
  • I remember eating delicious street food outside the school. Back then it costs only a fraction of a rupee to buy such things.
  • I remember poking my bench-mate with pointer. She was so hurt and school teacher asked me to bring chocolates for her immediately.
  • I remember bunking school to go to the graveyard to smoke cigarettes with notorious boys. I was almost blacklisted after the school principal came to know about this.
  • I remember being a master-mind of bursting firecrackers in ladies’ toilet. No one attempted that before.

All the memories came in front of my eyes, one after the another. But this is not only what happened. There was more magic as we got to know each other’s memories. Every person is like a novel and has so much wit and wisdom in life. Everyone has their layers and this quiz pealed them layer-by-layer and made all our memories naked, without ego in front of each other.

Really. So much had to be explored about each other.

This quiz was magical. It has ignited a fire of strong companionship in everyone’s heart; like a sorcerer’s spell and united all of us—like never before—22 years after school.

The Present Moment Is The Biggest Miracle

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Today is a big day miracle is going to happen.

Yesterday, I said same words and it did happen for so many of us. Some of you messaged me that there was no miracle today. I have a different perspective on this.

When I was in my no-money walking pilgrimage, we stayed with homeless people, tribal, wealthy people, in places of worship etc. Miracle was happening every day. Sometimes we got o eat, sometimes we didn’t. But we were alive. There was peace and love and happiness around. And I was not realizing this for many days.

Yesterday, the sun rose. There was plenty of oxygen to breathe. We woke up, we went to our work. We did work. We spoke to each other. Friends, families were alive. We were alive till the end of the day. We gave, we got. We had dreams, we made plans. We kissed, made love, prayed. It was a beautiful day with all 24 hours in it. The Earth was spinning. The sun had set. Moon came. Stars laughed. We slept and woke-up today to read this message.

So much happened. But some of us said that there was no miracle. We were alive and feeling happiness, pain, anger, love and all it. And still do we feel that nothing happened?

There is so much miracle in daily things that happen but we, sometimes, fail to accept and appreciate it. We look for some other miracle ignoring the one that is happening right now.

Right now, this moment is the biggest miracle.

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.

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?

The Will Of A Dying Tree

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This photograph by an alert citizen—Abhay Azad—is haunting me. As soon as I saw this photograph, I rushed to the venue to meet this tree. My parents left us without any will and I know how difficult the life ahead is without a will.

The photograph of this half-cut tree has many meanings for me—vulgar display of power, road to somewhere or nowhere, journey is process, tale of valor and sacrifice, helplessness, transformation, and of course the simplest of all of it; deforestation. But, I am sure something is about to happen; something is on the way.

With this in mind, I met the tree who narrated me its last wishes. We, together, made a will and recorded its last wishes:

  1. I want my visible assets to be given to the poor employees of the contractor of municipal authority. They’re are poor and each and every part of me might bring in prosperous for their family. I want all my visible assets to be of use to someone or the other.
  2. I want people to address me as a martyr. I have lived all my life for service and I want to die in service. I am a green-warrior.
  3. It will be great if some of my torso can be used to build little homes for the birds that I hosted. They’re my family and I don’t want them to be homeless again.
  4. I understand, that I had to leave. Everyone has to leave one day but I am proud to be sacrificed in service of my country, in service to my people, in service of development.
  5. I want the current and next generation to cultivate more green-warriors like me that can lay down their life in the service of nation.
  6. I want my invisible assets i.e. goodwill, kindness, gratitude and love to set an example for coming generations.  I won’t be there, and maybe many more like me won’t be there but life goes on. Goodwill, kindness, gratitude, compassion, love and all of that has to continue. Let’s fill the world with colors of love. Nothing is permanent—cultivate more of me and I shall never die.
  7. I am being sacrificed for progress and I wish my people, whom I served all my life, to progress not only materialistically but also morally, holistically and spiritually. I don’t have any regret from the people who have given me an opportunity to be a martyr. I share my gratitude and forgive them.

A tree is known by its fruit; a human by deeds. A good deed is never lost; one who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and one who plants kindness gathers love. Saint Basil.

This tree has been a giver all its life and will continue to give, forever. In the last moment also, it was sharing its gratitude and thinking of contribution.

The tree was positive about the future, positive about the sensibilities of human intellect. It had faith in the divine system, design thinking, technology and more trees that shall be cultivated.

It shall never die. You and me will die, it shall never die—givers never die.

The Man With A Lost Origin

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In India, there is a typical tradition to ask people their place of origin when we meet.

Where is your native place?

Everyone has a origin within the country but I am a odd one out. I don’t have an origin in India; all the past glory is lost. Sometimes, I feel like no man’s land.

My ancestors were born in in Chiniot which is now in Pakistan after the great f***ing partition of India in 1947. After the partition, my father migrated from Lahore to Delhi and eventually Mumbai.

I was born and brought up in Mumbai but don’t have a native place, at least here in India.