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Adrenalin, Peace and Pain : My First SkyDive April 8, 2016

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I usually enjoy my time out at the sea. Snorkelling gives me a lot of peace. That day, however, I could not soak in the moment. For all said and done, I was nervous. On a holiday. After all, it was Karnika and my first SkyDive the next day.

We’d been very excited about the Dive now for quite a few weeks. However, as the moment came closer, it was pretty edgy. Jumping off a plane just for the heck of it? Sounds insane, right? Well you know what – it is as insane as it sounds.

Cut to 10 AM the next day. After we reached the location for the SkyDive in a remote part of Cairns, we were to wait for a while. More nervous moments, after which about 10 of us were taken into a training room. Now since this was a Tandem Dive (Where you have an instructor jumping off with you), the directions we had to follow were very few (albeit critical). After getting ready with the harness (thankfully we didn’t have to wear those silly jumpsuits), I told my instructor:

“Dude, you are the my God for today, and the most important person I’ve met in my life”

“You bet I am – but do you know the difference between God and me”

“Yes! You can open the parachute, but God cannot!”

Well, here’s the thing with a tandem dive. You have to do literally nothing! It’s your instructor who does the jumping, the parachute opening, the manoeuvring and the landing (Unlike what’s shown in ZNMD!). So you just have to follow instructions on positioning. But, guess what? Most of these instructors had a CV with at least 10,000 dives against their name. Imagine that! Doing 5 dives a day, how would that feel?

After a short wait, it was time to fly! A plane from one of the 1970s movies came in front of us and we took off. Honestly, the plane was so creaky that I was wondering if we would ever require to jump off from the plane! It did absolutely nothing to soothe our nerves. A couple of minutes into the flight and it started to get nerve wracking. It was first the land which was moving away from us and then the clouds. I told my instructor that the view was incredible with the Great Barrier Reef in view – which is when he showed me the watch on his hand which measured the elevation. It was 6000 feet. It hit me that in spite of the height, we’d not even covered half the vertical distance.

7,000 feet. The corals had started to disappear. We were amongst another set of clouds

8,000 feet. The noisy airplane, the cold winds blowing in and the views – it felt quite surreal

9,000 feet. Insanity. I couldn’t believe that I was going to randomly jump off from a height higher than the Everest!

10,000 feet. There is still time to back out… This is just too terrifying

At 11,000 feet, my instructor pulled me and tied my harness to his. He told me that we would be the first ones to jump off. Wow!

The last couple of thousand feet was just a blur.

14,000 feet. We move towards the door. It’s cold up there. I can’t hear what my instructor says. And before I can absorb the height, my instructor jumped and I fell towards the ground.

I cannot describe the immediate experience because there is nothing that can match it. Not bungee. Not running. Not dreaming. Not thriller rides. Not a substance induced high. Not the biggest achievement. Absolutely nothing.

The closest description I can say is you are meditating while running full throttle. I don’t think my heart has pumped harder than those 45-50 seconds. Adrenalin was in such force, that you could feel it bottling out of your veins. Yet, there was a strange kind of a calm. It was just me with nature at her best. I was in, what they call “The Zone”. It was something else.

I was awoken from this bliss by a sudden jolt to my groin – it was the opening of the parachute which lent a suspension. “I must remember to wear a supporter next time around”. The thrill done, the view from the top was absolutely spectacular. The GBR, the seas, the rainforests and the mountains. Cairns is quite stunning. And experiencing falling towards it – even more spectacular.

And that’s when I lost consciousness. To this date I don’t know why or how – with my adrenalin pumping at its highest, I just lost consciousness. I can’t recollect how and why, but I just went asleep. Towards the end of the dive. The next thing I remember was screaming while landing; and because I had lost consciousness and did not land in the correct position – a searing pain in my knee. Damaged medial collateral ligament on my right knee.

Weeks of pain and no cricket / squash for the next few weeks. Worth it? You bet. The entire experience was so close to nature / death / yourself that it has made me both braver and humbler.

What are you waiting for – you got to go and do it!

 

Philippines : A Country as Beautiful as Her People January 21, 2016

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It’s been more than a month since we’ve returned from the Philippines. Without a speck of doubt, it is the most beautiful country I’ve been to (thus far). Stunning white sand beaches, stretches of pristine coastlines, fascinating islands, lagoons, underground rivers and landscapes, the most picturesque corals you’d get to see – all this, without the inevitable onslaught of tourists as yet. If you love any of the above, you should visit the country and do it right now. Take my word for it; you’d not fight a better place to be a beach bummer in Asia.

However, that’s not even the most interesting part of the country. The best part about Philippines is the people – who’re so happy most of the time that it is infectious. As the old Philippino lady (presumably in her late 60s) told us at the Caticlan Jetty in the wee hours of the morning:

We Philippinos are known always happy and smiling, after all what’s there to worry? The biggest source of joy apart from the beautiful country is our sense of large and warm families

Interestingly enough, she was returning back from Boracay with her very-old looking husband, equally old but warm sister and a cousin. For the uninitiated, Boracay is the Goa or Phuket of Philippines – albeit a much cleaner version. In the last ten years, this was the sixth time she had visited Boracay! I was amazed with her positivity – at 3 in the night, Karnika and I were far wearier than her family who were two and a half times our age.

The other part of Philippines which we visited was the enthralling Palawan. Now this place is like a large island state with satellite islands, a vast majority of which are unexplored or isolated (Philippines is a land of 7,000 islands+). The best way to see some of these islands is to take hopping tours, and use those to snorkel around the area. While I had snorkeled a fair bit earlier, Karnika was new to it. Needless to mention, she was scared of the whole thing as we didn’t know swimming.

That is where our awesome Captain, Aldi and his helpers jumped (pun intended) in. They had no need to, but the way they helped Karnika out was fantastic. It helped us get comfortable with the sometimes-choppy waters and work around some good spots to snorkel and swim. They even prepared us some awesome lunch (despite us being vegetarians – Philippines is your typical rice and seafood country) of noodles and salad.

That evening, we decided to visit Aldi and his little world – Midnight Sun Tours & Travels. The boatman lived with his wife, sons, daughter in law, nephews – all in a cramped house with a single bedroom. No stress, they welcomed us in a warm and affectionate manner. Their son was in a prison for no fault of theirs. They had little money for his release and running the family. They had to support a whole bunch of people. Strikingly, they were happy and went out of their way to make our experience in El Nido memorable.

There were many such people who we met along the way in this charming country. Nothing deterred their spirits and nothing broke their hearts. To say that we came back rejuvenated would be a gross understatement.

I cannot wait to visit the country again. I urge you to do so too before more people discover the beauty that is Philippines.

Was Draupadi in love with Karna? January 7, 2014

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Mythology is the flavour of the season, and after reading the terrific “Palace of Illusions”, I went about looking for the answer to this question.

Predictably, my two sources were Google and elders in the family- the elders had absolutely no clue about this question. Google, however, through up a lot of interesting anecdotes and one of them is worth looking at:

According to a legend from Mahabharata, during the thirteenth year of the exile of the Pandavas, Draupadi saw a ripe jambul, roseapple, hanging from a tree. She plucked it to have it. No sooner had she done this, Krishna came from somewhere and stopped her from eating it. According to Krishna, the ripe fruit was supposed to be the fruit with which a sage was supposed to break his twelve-year fast. Not finding the fruit at its place, could earn the wrath of the sage, resulting in more trouble for the Pandavas and her. Draupadi begged of Krishna to help her out of this impending problem.
 
Krishna, then said that the fruit could be put back at its original place, only by someone who holds no secrets. Draupadi had only one option and to confess some guilt. Seeing no way out, Draupadi walked up her husband’s and confessed to them, that though she was a chaste woman and loved all the five husbands, there was someone else that she longed for. She always had loved and respected Karna, the arch-enemy of the Pandavas. This was a shock to all the husbands, but none said anything. Having confessed, she went and put the fruit back on the branch of the tree and all was well.

Fascinating, isn’t it? Apparently, this is mentioned in quite a few folk editions of the Mahabharata. The book mentions the longing which they had for each other as being mutual; but it was something which did not fructify itself due to various reasons. The landmark events in their relationship, of course were Karna being called “suta-putra” by Draupadi and not being allowed to contest the Swayamvar and the insult of Draupadi by Karna in Yudhisthira’s court. However, there have always been undercurrents between the two- and the same has been beautifully brought out in the book.

So what do you guys think about this? I am curious to hear of more opinions and views on this

 

Pride and Passion: Thank you Sir Alex Ferguson May 9, 2013

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He is gone. I thought he would never go. He is gone today. I ought to be celebrating his career, but I’m filled with despair and helplessness about the possible future of my club. Yes, he was there through the ups and downs of my life, but not anymore. How long will it be before United win their next title? Can we still have the bragging rights over most other clubs in England? Can someone fit in these players in various systems to bring out the best in them? Can……

I started following club football in 2007, a year before we won our third Champions League title.  Since then, Sir Alex Ferguson has been the biggest reference point for me- sometimes a huge enigma, but often an inspirational persona. I mean, he is 71 years old, and still celebrates a goal against Southampton as if it’s his first. I mean, 71 fucking years old. And that passion. Still. 71 years. Do you see that kind of passion in anyone aged 71, in any field? It’s the age when nasal sprays in your nose are more common than a football field under your feet. It’s the age when most people stop celebrating their lives. But nay, not Sir Alex. I think that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learnt from him. Celebrate your life, enjoy every moment of it and live life. He still rips apart the fourth official (read: The Chelsea/Madrid games), still defends his players like they are his own kids (read: De Gea), still runs across the touchline to celebrate a goal (read: Van Persie against Saints), still sulks like crazy (read: Nani red against Madrid), is still naughty enough to take on an opponent verbally (read: Benitez), still revers his wine (read: Mourinho), still gets excited about young players coming through (read: Januzaj). I mean, how in Holy God’s name can someone have so much passion 27 years into their profession? How the fuck?

 I wish I had that smile. I hope to live every moment with that passion, like that man.

There is so much emptiness and sadness, but I hope I can carry this message of the greatest manager of any sports team I’ve seen. Nay, not just a sports team, but the biggest sports club in the world.

Thank you, Sir Alex Ferguson.

Travel, and travel young! September 26, 2012

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Thanks to my wonderful organization, I have discovered an aspect of life which seems so fascinating to me now that it seems reprehensible that it was not an integral part of me earlier. The urge to travel, discover new worlds and reap all the benefits which come along with it is endearing. Beyond the obvious, there are so many things which you learn when you travel.

The point I have to make is that travel young. People often give various excuses like the lack of time, the need to save at a particular stage of life etc. However, the world is littered with cases where people end up not travelling at all, even when they have time and money on their side. And that, is such a pity.

The youth of your life is when you are forming a view about the world, opening up your minds to different aspects and growing. Travel at this age does something very important to you- it gives you an opportunity to grow. There is nothing better than travel when it comes to discovering yourself and what better than youth to do that? I would go as far to say that travel can actually help you figure what you want to do with life.

Discover the Himalayas, swim in the Indian Ocean, party hard in Thailand, bingee in New Zealand, soak in the culture of Cambodia & Laos, hike the mountains of Mexico, safari in South Africa, cross the European borders by train, learn Mandarin. Life, after all, is so beautiful!

Travel young because:

  • It helps you open your mind to the world and forms views in your head
  • It helps you discover yourself and your purpose
  • It teaches you how to live with the nature, its children and eccentricities
  • It imbibes qualities like independence, and gives you a great level of maturity
  • It improves you as a person
  • You are most energetic when you are young!

The Widening Generation Gap June 4, 2011

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The other day, I went for this movie with two of my family friends- both guys who are younger to me by six years. Now I remember many of my cousins hanging out together in my hometown Ranchi with this range of age difference but seemingly in the same generation. There was not too much of a gap in the thinking and exposure level of these guys, and they happily got along very well with each other. Today, however, I think the case is not the same. The world has become more dynamic than ever before and changes occur at a neck breaking pace; so much so that guys six years younger than me often seem to be from a different generation (Though I may still get along with them)

The dictionary defines a generation as a period of 25 years. I think over time, the number of years between generations has reduced dramatically- generations change much faster now. Today, while parents try and bridge the ‘generation gap’, I think it’s going to be increasingly difficult for parents in the future in trying to understand and handle their kids. Guys having cell phones at the age of 11, watching the kind of movies which we never did at the age and having a half baked understanding of things at ages you would not have imagined etc are remnant to the same. I think this makes it all the more stronger case to stay in the family, which is unlikely to happen. But the positive side of all this is that kids these days become smarter very soon. One consequence of which is that we’d probably see smarter CEOs and deadlier criminals at much younger ages in the future.

Having gone through this experience, hats off to the parents who truly are friends to their kids.

The Artist In Us February 7, 2011

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I’ve seen a couple of brilliant movies in the last month. It started with Dhobi Ghat– had to be awesome with Aamir Khan, isn’t it? The painter seemed to be a metaphor, and you felt that the Director was creating a canvas of modern art on screen. While there was no seemingly central message, the 90 minutes inscribed a lot of subtleties in you; not least of them that it made being a loner seem cool. More on that in sometime. The other brilliant movie is Yeh Saali Zindagi. While this movie is also a piece of modern art, it seemed to be like one of those puzzles which we had to solve when young. The way Sudhir Mishra connected the dots was fascinating; it kept the audience on its edge. Didn’t you ever want to make an awesome piece with a lot of randomness to it?

Now the most fascinating aspect of these movies is that they seem to be unadulterated, they take Hindi cinema to the next level, while giving unbridled joy to the scriptwriter and director by bringing out the true artist in them. With this, and looking at the patterns around me; I’ve a feeling that the more of a loner you are, the more it brings out the artist in you, and the more fascinating pieces of work you have. Be it Aamir Khan in Dhobi Ghat (which seems to make a loner look cool, and hence brings urges the artist in us on) or my friends who write a lot of poetry, being a loner seems to drive you on and bring out the best.

While that’s one theory, I think bringing out the artist in oneself bring unadulterated joy in you. It could be writing for me, dancing for my dear friend, random photography for somebody else. However, it’s this aspect which gives you immense happiness, makes you think and refreshes you for your next phase of life. Needless to mention, it also brings out the best pieces (albeit with some random ones) of art.

With the last month at IIM Indore and a lot of time on hands, I urge each one of us to bring out that artist in us. Soothing music is one thing which can help you towards it 🙂

MI vs RCB: 21st April at the DY Patil stadium April 22, 2010

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The cheerleader stand: We’d initially entered the allotted stand based on our tickets. However, observing the free movement possible between stands, we moved to the area right in front of the Mumbai Indians cheerleaders. And needless to say, it was a lot of fun, with Mahindroo and Anant dancing on the mini podium with them!

SRT..: All of DYP was cheering for the master, whether he was batting, setting the field or speaking on the microphone. Towards the latter part of the Bangalore innings, when Sachin was injured and was looking on from the sidelines, the crowd went into a delirium when he was shown on the big screen. “Sachin.. Sachin” is all one could hear.

..And the rest: The other players cheered were Pollard, Harbhajan, and surprisingly Malinga. “Ma-Lin-Ga” is easy to chant and the affable player responded with a wicket in his first over. Pollard was cheered all through as well.

The poor Bangalore fans: There were four Bangalore fans in the entire stand- and they were seated right in front of me. While critics might say that the IPL will take time to build franchisee loyalties, you should have seen the hatred in the MI fans’ eyes when they looked at these chaps. For me, the moment of the day was showing them the finger when Uthappa got out after the crazy Harbhajan over.

Dale Steyn and Lasith Malinga: We all know how fast the South African is, but the Sri Lankan was surprisingly quick as well. The ball was reaching the keepers gloves in a flash when these chaps were bowling- it was fascinating to see it in the ground.

The boos: All of DY Patil booed 1) whenever there was a third umpire’s decision against the home team, 2) when KP had a confrontation with Rayudu 3) when Uthappa came into bat.

The ohhs: Collective gasps were common whenever the ball went past the edge! Ohh.. and the Mexican waves kept failing!

Singh is King: Trust Harbhajan with his antics. In the 18th over, when the match was nearly done with- Harbhajan came unto our stand and asked us to show some passion and excitement! The notorious stand that was, the collective slogan was “Singh is King.. Singh is King”. Bhajji loved it, and so did the stand and the square leg umpire (Billy Doctrove).

Yo beauty: After SRT, the loudest cheers were reserved for Deepika Padukone. The junta went bananas when the big screen flashed her.

Balle Balle: The stand out feature of the IPL as opposed to the ODIs and Test matches I’ve seen before is the constant entertainment- it was amazing to be dancing to Bollywood tunes with so many people. It was one awesome party!

All in all, a terrific experience. Looking forward to Sunday’s visit to the ground!

Serendipity November 12, 2009

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Lonely and dark no more,
The woods are the place to be
Miles to go I definitely have
But the warmth of her hand I now can feel

The feel, the touch, the breath, the voice..
Its all so magical and utopian.
The angelic presence of the lassie
Makes me forget all my fear and ambition.

She gives me the look
And It fills me with ardency
In her chromatic and beautiful eyes I dwell
And lose myself in fantasy.

The conjuncture was never intentional
Nor was the story conventional
For some, it takes ages to happen
For me, that one moment…
That one moment had all of what I wanted to see in the depths of her gaze.

The way it kills you and yet you want more of it..
The way you’r together always and yet cant subsist for a minute without
The way you tried to escape and yet the arrow buzzed and bit.
Is this what they call love? Or rather serendipity?

Happy Birthday IIIT! September 2, 2009

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Thanks to Himank, I got myself to writing this post. First things first- Happy birthday IIIT-H. Just like the Indian economy, it’s that stage of the life cycle of IIIT where it is growing really fast. And for the growth to be really meaningful, the efforts need to put in to take the institute to another level.

For me, the most important thing which has to change is the work culture of the students. Be it assignments, academics, Felicity or a general attitude towards anything – we are far too lethargic and laid back. Except for the last few days in the lead up to Felicity and Placements, we refuse to put in meaningful work. Even when we do for a few occasions, the effort is hardly structured. For us to really reach the next level, we need a change – a change in a lot of ways things are done in college. And for that, a new work culture needs to brought in.

Comparing IIIT with IIM Indore, two institutes which started around the same time, there is a fair bit of difference when it comes to processes and functionalities in the student body. Even given the point that things are expected to be better in IIM-I with the virtue of it being a part of a premier brand name, IIIT can do much better. This, especially considering the fact that the quality of students is quite high in IIIT, probably matching the standards here. There is so much potential among the students- all of that can be harnessed with some effort in changing the work culture.

If there is one wish for IIIT I have, it is certainly this.

Meanwhile, I really miss a few things from undergraduate days- prime among them is the camaraderie with my batch mates. This of course, includes my circle of friends, but also the others. The next thing I miss is the culture of the place. I so disagree with one of my professors when he says that we don’t have a culture in IIIT. I think we do, and I feel it all the more when I’m away from the college. Take for example, the kind of discussions we would have in the corridors of the hostel. And finally, though I’ve spoken about the work culture, I do sometimes miss the laid back days of old! All the times when I’d just hang out in my pals’ rooms.

PS: It’s a new life here in IIM Indore, and I’ve gotten used to it. It’s just that after the chat with Himank today, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic.

Love you IIIT!