19 June 2009

Fan Fury...

Two things I would like to state before you read what I have to say. I am not a fan of cricket. And as a result, apart from Sachin Tendulkar, I dont hold any cricketer in high regard. That said, hear this example I have.

Imagine there's a family gathering, where a singing competition is held. One singer from each family should compete in the competition. Prizes are given to the winners. Now, a boy from your family goes on stage, and sets the crowd on fire with his singing. His parents and relatives are all swelling with pride at his vocal range. They absolutely adore his singing. This chap sings four songs back to back, in perfect pitch. The frenzy in the hall is unbelievable.

Then when he starts the fifth song, he goes off key. In teenage slang, he sucks. Big time. That's when you see the family members rear their ugly sides. They hate the kid now. They shout and curse at him. Once he makes his way back to his seat, they whack him left and right. His mother vows not to give him dinner. His dad swears they'll never go to see a movie for the next two months. After the competition is over, they seeth with anger at the way their kid sang. They tell everyone around what a disgrace he is.

How would you feel about that? Not if you were the kid. Just if you were watching the whole incident? I would feel disgusted. Wouldnt you?

I hope a name comes to your mind now. Dhoni. Not just Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But the entire Men in Blue. The eleven best cricketers in a country of a billion. Doesnt the way they're being treated bother us, even a bit?

Again, I know as much about cricket as you know about astrophysics. But I do know one basic human quality. That of supporting the people you love.

It's funny, isnt it? Two years ago, they were mad about Dhoni. Half of us wanted to marry him. The other half wanted to copy his hairstyle. We praised his skill, his intelligence, his grit. There was nothing we didnt praise about him. Then something happened. He made a few errors. He didnt play properly. So how do we reply? By burning his effigy.

They say getting into the Indian Cricket team is itself an achievement. So what about being the captain of that team? We are people who get carried away by the praises of our teachers or compliments of our friends. Should I really believe that a man wont get carried away when he's the hero of an entire nation? Meaning its entirely human for Dhoni to bask in the limelight. You'd do the same thing if you were in his place I guess.

But what's the problem with us? Why do we idolize our cricketers, instead of loving and respecting them? They gave us so many reasons to have pride in being Indian.They were probably the reason you and I spent weeks bragging about India's cricketing might. The reason you and I went to sleep with a smile, even when there were a hundred other things in life to bother us. They brought us joy, a feeling of unity, and team spirit.

No one can win every match. But if we try, we can show some love and care. It's almost utopian isnt it: imagine a scene where the Indian team lands in Mumbai, and reach their hotel room, to find hundreds of cards with the wordings: It's okay. We'll win it the next time. Love, your fans...

No, that would be foolish to do, woudlnt it. Instead, we'll do what's best: Burn their effigies, and attack their homes.

Perhaps it shows how much we've progressed. In a country that's supposed to be marching towards progress at a furious pace, police men have to run to a cricketer's house, so that his family can be saved from the once loving fans. It's a pitiful condition.

Grow up. That's all we can do. That, or ask for Dhoni to get off. So that we can copy the next captain's hairstyle. Until he too screws up. In which case, we'll just burn his house...and ask for the next guy to come along....

[This is my first post on an ongoing topic. Hope it's not out of line. I strongly believe in what I've said here. Pass on this to your friends; and you're more than free to discuss whether I'm right or wrong. Would love to hear your opinion. But please dont leave Anonymous comments. Instead, use the OpenID option, and use a nickname if you have to.]

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18 June 2009

My First Reader...

There's a story about a blogger who started his blog somewhere around August last year. He was a typical teenager, waiting to rule the blogosphere with what he had to say. Ofcourse, that's what every new blogger wants to do. This particular guy sat down and spent less than half an hour on his first post. He then waited for the next three hours. For his first comment.

For those of you who've never experienced blogging, let me tell you what receiving your first comment is like. You could say it's like a father waiting outside the delivery room, wanting to know whether it's a boy or a girl. Okay, that's maybe not the best example right now. Still, the point is, the first comment you get, is by far the most memorable one.

He got his comment, after about half a day had passed. It was just two lines long. It wasnt a very flattering comment. No, in fact, it was nothing more than a mere acknowledgement, and a mild encouragement to write more. But to the person who'd waited so long, it was a reason to continue blogging.

That particular blogger is Mohammed Musthafa. And the comment was from a guy named Rejin.

This post is perhaps a tribute. Or in other words an acknowledgement. But at the bottom of it all, it's just a thank you. Someone recently said that my blog was quite good. "A good enough fan base. Decent number of comments. You're lucky!" Yes, I was. That's when I realised how it all started. It started with a comment.

Rejin did what any other bored teenager on a Saturday afternoon could do. He merely commented on an article which he found to be slightly better than average. But the difference was he commented. He may not have been the first one to have read it. But he was the first one to have encouraged a comment craving, nervous, self doubting, potentially talented wannabe blogger.

To say that Laptop Diary is what it is today, because of Rejin, would be an exaggeration. But yes, I owe a lot to him. Not just for the first one comment. But for the interest he shows. To everyone else, he's just another reader. But for me, he's a reason I've wanted to write better, funnier, smarter. Even 'My Card House' was published partly due to him.

So here's a request to all of you. Thankfully I've reached a point in blogging where I dont have to refresh Gmail for 6 hours before receiving a comment notification. But there are many who wait. Right now. For the first comment on their blog. If you happen to read something that interests you, something that you think is worthy of appreciation, take a minute and drop a comment.

It's not a secret that I want to be a successful blogger. I want to be interviewed in newspapers. I want to be read by people in offices, and schools and homes. I want to be quoted in newspapers. I want to scroll down the page and read all the 100 comments for my post. I want all of that. But what I dont want, is to forget those few who've helped me become who I am today. Those few who are the reason I'll become what I can tomorrow. Rejin is one such guy. And for that, I would like to say a humble thank you.

P.S.: Just because he was the first to comment, doesnt mean you cant. Drop a comment please!

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14 June 2009

My Card House

A few years ago,
I wanted to make,
A lofty card house,
Which would never break.

I placed one card,
On the marble floor,
After a while,
I placed one more.

That was how,
I built the house,
It took patience and care,
And years of love

With every passing year,
The house became bigger.
Pillars rose high,
The walls grew thicker.

Until one day,
I stopped to see,
This card house of mine,
The best there could be.

At the base stood,
Cards of ones, twos and threes.
And at the top of the house,
Lay the kings and queens.

Like a plastic pyramid,
It was almost perfect,
Every card was perfect,
Except my favourite quartet.

The King of Diamonds,
And the King of Spades,
At the top of the house,
Both of them were placed.

Above them stood,
Just two more cards.
The Queen of Clubs,
And the Queen of Hearts.

I knew I had to,
Sooner than later,
Choose just one card,
To place above all other.

So I picked the Queen of Clubs,
Not to throw her.
She was still my Queen,
Alongside my Kings she'd stay.

What happened next,
I really dont know.
She fell from my fingers,
But never hit the floor.

The Queen was scorned,
In her fury she cried.
To stop her from falling,
I desperately tried.

But the damage was done,
She crashed onto the house.
I watched in horror,
As my cards were tossed.

Seven years of hardwork,
Were lost before my eyes.
And there was nothing I could do,
To salvage my pride...

The cards were strewn,
All across the floor.
Would they come back to me now,
Could I build my house once more?

No, most of them said,
Never, never again,
Upon your trust,
Shall we depend.

A few years ago,
I wanted to make,
A lofty card house,
Which would never, never....break.

(This poem is open to interpretation. If needed, I'll reveal the meaning of the poem within a few days. However, it's best if you could tell me your idea of the poem. And yes, please do leave your comments. Rate the poem as well. Thanks!)

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08 June 2009

"Bubbles, Bubbles!"

Swimming, they say, is an excellent exercise. And since it was Summer in Qatar, what better thing to do than take a dip, right? That's what even I thought. So I headed off to the local swimming pool, mentally prepared to shed some excess weight.

But just after I jumped into the pool, a thought crossed my mind. I didnt have goggles. And the water was filled with chlorine. Unless I wanted to be half blind at school tomorrow, I would need goggles. So I went up to the Lifeguard (well, actually paddled, since I was in the water), and asked for goggles.

"Ah, sure!" he said with a smile. A moment later, he came out of his little room, and threw a pair of goggles towards me. I took the pair, and looked at the strap. It could fit around my arm. And I dont have Rafael Nadal style arms. I meant a pair of goggles for someone my age, not an infant. (I didnt say that though, which is why it's in italics.)

Not wanting to disappoint the guy's enthusiasm, I wore the goggles. Have you ever seen a race horse? Well, I was like a race horse on drugs, with dysfunctional eye sockets, and a general lack of idea as to where to go...

Still, I swallowed all the pain, along with some water, and began swimming. Ten minutes later, I barely completed a lap, and was panting on the sidelines, when the Life guard came towards me. "Bubbles, bubbles!" he said.

"Huh, yah, I know..." Bubbles?

"No, bubbles, bubbles," he said, and enacted how I should put my head under water. Oh, so that's what he meant. For his satisfaction, I put my head underwater, and blew a few bubbles. Poor chap, must be dead bored around here...

When I got up again, he was looking at me, smiling contently. "Yes, do that. Bubbles are like...oxygen. Good to get oxygen." And before I could object, he pressed his hand on my head. In surprise, I blew a bubbles, and got up again. "Wait, that's not possible -". He had again pressed his hand down. It was like drowning, except I had a really surprised look on my face. By the time I came up again, I was pissed off.

Oy, I have lungs inside, not bloody gills, you get that? But since I had too much cholrinated water in my mouth, it didnt quite come out that way. I did what sounded more like a grunt. "Good, good, bubbles, bubbles," he said.

I got back to swimming. It was the worst I ever had. As soon as I finished one lap, I had to stop and dip my head underwater, blowing out bubbles. Not just once, about a hundred times. Alright, not that many times. Still, it was annoying...

So to change the topic, I tried asking the guy to teach me the breaststroke. It was supposed to be the best way to swim. Well, he told me to move my arms in a circular motion, push back my legs, and lift my head above water. I did most of that. Except for the pushing leg part and the head lifting. Which meant I looked like a motor pump with erratic power supply.

Tired, I changed and began swimming freestyle. "Coach, what's the best swimming style for the chest?" I asked. "This, this!" he said, pointing at the way I swam. "Oh, okay. And for the stomach?". He again said, "This, this!".

That's weird...

"Hmm...and what about for my back?". I shoudlnt have been surprised when he pointed at me and said (behold!), "This, this!"

Oh yah, wiseguy? Well, then what's the best swimming style for the ear muscles, huh?

I wish I had asked that. But before I could, he said, "Bubbles, bubbles!"


As I came out of the water after blowing a dozen bubbles, he smiled and said: "Good, good, bubbles are good. They give oxygen...Bubbles, bubbles!"

I dipped my head again, thinking to myself: Either the guy was crazy. Or my Science teacher was duping me...

P.S.: Please use the stars you see below, to rate this post. That way, it'll be easier to know how many people have read it. And yes, this was a filler post. Sorry!
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03 June 2009

The Story of Rajeev and Faisal

It was that time of the year when every school in the city was busy hosting farewell parties for its outgoing batch. Our school was no different. In fact, the hype surrounding the farewell party was immense. It was all because of the Student Awards.

The Student Awards were a set of Awards given by the management of the school, as a token of appreciation to certain students. There was the "Best Outgoing Student Award", "Most Popular Student" award, and so on. But the most loved award, was the "Best Duo Award". And this year, the winners were a sure fire bet. Rajeev and Faisal.

Rajeev and Faisal were the epitome of best friends. It wasnt surprising, considering their backgrounds. Since 9th Grade, the two of them had trusted each other deeply. And they were surprisingly popular.

Rajeev was the cuter, more stylish of the two. He was an amazing dancer, friendly, excellent in academics as well as sports. Faisal on the other hand, was the more creative one. Not as good looking, but certainly loveable. He shone in oratory and writing. Together, the two formed a formidable pair.

They were the ones who knew everyone. They were everyone's friend. They dealt with others problems, offered help, hung out. If there was a party, it was only a party if these two were there.

And so, when the Vice Principal took to the stage, everyone was waiting to hear what they knew was obvious. "The winner of this year's Best Duo Award is...Rajeev and Faisal!"

There was loud cheering and wild applause. It was predictable, but that didnt stop it from being good news. From the audience, the two of them rose and reached the stage. When the applause died down, Faisal leaned forward and said something to the Vice Principal. He and Rajeev then turned around to face the audience.

"Dear parents, teachers and our good friends, this award cannot be accepted by Rajeev and I. For the simple reason being, the two of us are not friends anymore."

There was sudden silence, broken quickly by someone who yelled, "Ya right dude, we believe you!" The audience laughed. Surely it was a joke. But Faisal continued.

"It's true. And you maybe wondering why we decided to declare it now. Well, it's because this award really goes to someone else. It goes to Vasanth and Riyaz."

Vasanth and Riyaz. Hardly a handful in the audience recognised the names. Vasanth and Riyaz were relatively low on the Popularity meter. In fact, hardly anyone in the school knew about them.

"Of course, the question can be asked, why? Why should Vasanth and Riyaz be declared the best duo? Well, because they have something the two of us never did.

Rajeev and I have known each other for the past four years. And in these four years, never once have I had a complaint about him. Vice versa as well, you could say. After all, why would we? We were the two best guys in our batch. We were the perfect companions. And there lay our problem. Perfection.

It's a misguiding word. Perfection. Most of us choose our friends, depending upon how perfect they are. We like those people who are nearly flawless in their behaviour, in the way they treat us. But does that last?

There's a quote from a movie called Good Will Hunting, where Robin Williams character tells Matt Damon(regarding him and his girl friend): "Let me tell you something sport. You're not perfect. And let me save you the suspense. This girl you love, well, she's not perfect either. The question is....are you two perfect for each other?"

Two weeks back, Rajeev and I had a misunderstanding. A huge one. Caused due to a fault of mine. As a result, we could no longer remain good friends. And it was only then, that I realised the value of friendship. I learnt it from Vasanth and Riyaz.

For those of you who dont know them, Vasanth and Riyaz aren't the most fun loving people you'll find. In fact, to be really blunt, one of them has a nagging tendency to be talkative, while the other sulks a bit too much. They could find a hundred faults with each other. Yet, this is the point that amazed me. For the past three years, they've remained great friends. Sure, they've fought and swore at each other. They even vowed to never talk to each other again. But at the end of the day, they've accepted each other for who they really are.

Within a few weeks, all of us are going to part. And we may never meet again, despite exchanging email ids and mobile numbers. Well, in that case, here's what I would like to say:

Love your friends, for who they are. For the good, as well as the bad in them. No one's perfect. There's always, always someone better than the person your friends with. Anyone can pick the perfect guy to be a friend. But only a true friend can accept you, for your imperfections. Forgive, forget. Life is too short to waste upon misunderstandings. This, I've learnt, the hard way..."

With that, Faisal walked off the stage. The dumbstruck silence was pierced by a clap. Followed by another. Soon, the hall was filled with the sound of applause...

[Please leave your comments, discussing the topic...]

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