Ashish Vaswani
रविवार का दिन आया तो सोचा करें आराम,

हफ्ते में इक दिन छुट्टी का, वह भी हुआ हराम!

भक्तिगीतों ने जब कर दी मेरी सुबह बरबाद,

तब पता चला कि इसी दिन हुआ था देश आज़ाद.

ऐसा भला क्या हुआ जो हर कोई झूमे-गाए?

रिश्वत लेने वाली जेब पर आज तिरंगा लहराए?

क्या मतलब इस आज़ादी का, हम तो अब भी हैं गुलाम,

अँग्रेज़ चले गये, तो बड़े बाबू को मिला सलाम.

कहने को तो आज़ादी को हो गये तिरसठ साल,

फिर भी मन में उमड़ रहे हैं कई अनसुलझे सवाल.

आज भी क्यों करती हैं नज़रें जन्म-जात का अंतर?

क्यों रह-रहकर उठता है प्रश्न-'यह कैसा परजा तन्तर?'

क्या मजबूरी है कि भाई है भाई के खून का प्यासा?

'चलता है!' कहकर क्यों हम खुद को दें दिलासा?

भूख, बीमारी, भ्रष्टाचार के कीड़े जब तक है यहाँ आबाद,

कैसे कह दूँ मैं कि भैया, देश मेरा आज़ाद?
Ashish Vaswani
‘Tel laga’ is one expression that features amongst the most frequently used words in my limited vocabulary. It’s a milder alternative of asking someone to mind themselves or simply get lost, that I prefer over fancier cuss words. Plus I feel it sounds a lot cooler too!

I wish I could say the same about the gory images that I woke up to this morning:

Here’s what’s happened: two Panamanian vessels collided with each other near JNPT, Nhava Sheva, around 10km from Mumbai harbour last Saturday. The impact was so disastrous that it’s now resulted in one of those ships, MSC Chitra tilting at an angle of almost 80 degrees.

What’s even more horrifying is that almost 50 tonnes of oil from the ship has spilled into the sea, along with toxic chemicals from its 300 containers that tumbled out as well. Though authorities are claiming that the leak has been plugged and no more oil is flowing out, the ground reality could possibly be that there’s none left.

Fishermen and locals in the entire Konkan belt have already started experiencing the after effects of the catastrophe. And it is common sense that marine life in the region is going to bear the brunt. The precious few numbered mangroves around Mumbai are under an imminent threat.

But what’s interesting to note is that our netalog are least bothered about the issue. As usual, an ‘inquiry into the matter’ has been ordered. Jairam Ramesh, the Minister of State for Environment and Forests, paid his share of lip service in Parliament today by saying that ‘suitable action will be taken’. Salvage operations are not going to begin before 13th August even as the Mumbai Port Trust loses crores in revenue since all functioning has been suspended indefinitely. All because we’re waiting for Dutch and Singaporean help to arrive.

Earlier this year, a major oil spill of an even larger magnitude had occurred around the Gulf of Mexico. British Petroleum (BP), which was found responsible for the spill was made to pay damages to the tune of billions of dollars by the US government. And though clean-up operations have still not been completed, the quick response of all authorities involved must be lauded. I wonder if we can expect the same in India. It’s not the lack of infrastructure, but the mere lack of intent that impedes our path to global supremacy. Until such a will to achieve this goal finds its place in the Indian psyche, there’s not much we can do other than enjoying the paradox of the rainbow below our feet...

Ashish Vaswani
Here’s a hilarious forward I got this morning about the future of UIDAI's UID program. For those of you not in the know, it’s a plan to have a centralized database of Indian IDs, something of the sort of a Social Security Number in the US…

Nandan Nilekani's dream - how the National ID card will work :

Operator : "Thank you for calling Pizza Hut . May I have your..."

Customer: "Heloo, can I order.."

Operator : "Can I have your multi purpose ID card number first, Sir?"

Customer: "It's...hold on...889861356102049998-45-54610"

Operator : "OK... You're... Mr Singh and you're calling from 17 Jal Vayu.....Your home number is 2x26xxxx, your office 250xxxxx and your mobile is 09xxxxxxxx. Which number are you calling from now Sir?"

Customer: "Home! How did you get all my phone numbers?

Operator : "We are connected to the system Sir"

Customer: "May I order your Seafood Pizza..."

Operator : "That's not a good idea Sir"

Customer: "How come?"

Operator : "According to your medical records, you have high blood pressure and even higher cholesterol level Sir"

Customer: "What?... What do you recommend then?"

Operator : "Try our Low Fat Pizza. You'll like it"

Customer: "How do you know for sure?"

Operator : "You borrowed a book entitled "Popular Dishes" from the National Library last week Sir"

Customer: "OK I give up... Give me three family size ones then, how much will that cost?"

Operator : "That should be enough for your family of 05, Sir. The total is Rs 500.00"

Customer: "Can I pay by! Credit card?"

Operator : "I'm afraid you have to pay us cash, Sir. Your credit card is over the limit and you owe your bank Rs 23,000.75 since October last year. That's not including the late payment charges on your housing loan, Sir.."

Customer: "I guess I have to run to the neighbourhood ATM and withdraw some cash before your guy arrives"

Operator : "You can't Sir. Based on the records, you've reached your daily limit on machine withdrawal today"

Customer: "Never mind just send the pizzas, I'll have the cash ready. How long is it gonna take anyway?"

Operator : "About 45 minutes Sir, but if you can't wait you can always come and collect it on your Nano Car..."

Customer: " What!"

Operator : "According to the details in system ,you own a Nano car,...registration number GZ-05-AB-1107.."

Customer: " ?"

Operator : "Is there anything else Sir?"

Customer: "Nothing... By the way... Aren't you giving me that 3 free bottles of cola as advertised?"

Operator : "We normally would Sir, but based on your records you're also diabetic....... "

Customer: #$$^%&$@$% ^

Operator : "Better watch your language Sir.. Remember on 15th July 2010 you were convicted of using abusive language on a policeman...?"

Customer: [Faints]
Ashish Vaswani
Last week, I was in Borivali with a couple of friends. All I knew about this place then was that it's a major terminus on the north Mumbai suburban rail network. But having spent half a day there has left me amazed by the diversity of Mumbai’s landscape.

I’ve spent most of my life between Andheri and Dadar. Occasional visits to So-Bo hotspots are restricted to old-world cravings with family. So I found it embarrassing to realize that I didn’t even know the order of the stations after Jogeshwari. Nonetheless, the work that took us to Borivali wasn’t meant to be, so when we saw a board that read ‘Sanjay Gandhi National Park’.

Voila! The last time I’d seen Borivali National Park, it was in my school textbook. It was a shame I hadn’t been here inspite of being a Mumbaikar for the past twenty years. Not having anything better to do, we decided to walk in.

We were not even 10 kms from Borivali station and this is what the place looked like…

It was unbelievable to be amidst nature in this form, right in the middle of a city buzzing with activity. And though I saw a few boards warning me about wild cats on the prowl, I was lucky to get away with spotting only a random bunch of monkeys on my impromptu expedition. A major attraction inside the National Park, is a group of 108 caves collectively known as the Kanheri caves. On my hike to Kanheri, the raingods were kind enough to let me enjoy the magical journey in all its glory.

I was at the highest point above sea level in Mumbai. The view was magical. But even at this height, people don’t cease to give up their charlatan ways. At the only canteen available there, I was being charged Rs. 18 for a bottle of mineral water whose MRP was Rs. 14. That sort of turned out to be the dampener and I decided against giving in.

But at the end of the day, what mattered was that an unplanned outing turned out to be the perfect adrenaline rush for the rest of the week. I returned home with even more love for a city that hides within its monotonous shell, a landscape that is so similar, yet so different...

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Ashish Vaswani
A heartwarming poem by Govinda Ahuja that captures the essence of most students' lives.
Click here to visit his LinkedIn profile
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Weeks pass by without attending a single lecture,
Where we go to sleep & mark the attendance register,
I just couldn't study for marks and grades,
Memorize theorems for degrees and certificates.

The defaulter's meeting was often a delight,
Seldom did it cause my friends a worrisome plight,
I knew where my time had gone but they did not,
Though everyone had an excuse to handle this plot.

I can't promise next sem, that I would attend,
To sit in the lecture and seem to pretend.
I know what you taught was archaic and out-dated, 
Inspite hiking the fees on branding the institution as top-rated.

We all had dreams of becoming good engineers,
Dreams being an expression of EEG and neurotransmitters,
''It has a lot of scope!'' was heard loud and clear,
But for many, the end turned to be a carcinogenic pap smear.

I could not accept software engineering as my future,
And it’s not that I am inferior or superior ,
It's just because I am a Biomedical Engineer.

They wake up every morning hearing shrill audible shock, (They=software engineers)
Disturbing and working against their circadian clock,
They curse their day and long hours at work,
Still continuing it regularly, for a huge perk.

Finance was always my last resort,
Something as easy as a blind-folded shot,
But then came a process of cardiac re-engineering,
Where my heart clearly said "Finance: You are not winning!"

I can't do something that I don't love,
In a field where I don’t want my cognizance to serve,
And not that I am inferior or superior,
It’s just because I am a Biomedical engineer.

A faulty conscience can kill you faster,
Than the phenomenon of gradually getting older,
As life continues to last, till you will,
It’s unfortunate to see people; who eventually kill.

I believe self-killing could be mechanical or mental,
And living your life without your family is insubstantial,
And not that I am inferior or superior,
It’s just because I am not a mechanical but a Biomedical Engineer.

People end up doing things mechanically,
Achievements are always classified superficially,
Passion is over -written by materialistic goals,
Evoking artificial neural signals into their souls.

I just can't write this poem any further.
And Its not that I am inferior or superior,

It’s just because I am a Biomedical Engineer.

                                                -Govinda Ahuja

Ashish Vaswani

Friendship. When I first learnt this word as a kid, I thought it meant ‘a boatride with a friend’. Coming to think of it today, I don’t see any reason to believe it means otherwise. To me, it still means sharing your journey with someone very dear- only now, it’s a journey called life.

I guess we were in school when quite suddenly, Friendship Day-the way we know it today, was born. Weirdly enough, it became just another occasion when the Archies and the Hallmarks were assured of brisk business, thanks to youngsters’ implicit competition to flaunt the most number of friendship bands on the said day. I frankly never realized how or when it gained cult status in the Indian academic year until junior college, when I witnessed ‘Friendship Week’ being celebrated with elaborate functions and meticulous planning that began months before D-day. There was no escaping the truth of the growing popularity of Friendship Day. So much so that telecom companies began counting Friendships’ Day as the only other day of the year except New Year, Diwali and Dussehra, when subscribers of free messaging plans would also be charged for SMSs they sent.

Cut to 31st July, 2010, 11 pm. I started getting the first few Friendship Day forwards. Perhaps because they’d cost their senders dearly, if they’d be sent later. ‘What the hell, it’s not even Sunday yet, and my inbox is already spam-ridden!’ I thought to myself. There were some messages that spoke of colours and crayons, and others that filled the screen with ASCII art, but one of them really takes the cake. It read thus:

‘In 1935, the American government had killed a man on the first Saturday of August. The next day, his friend committed suicide. In his memory, the American government declared the first Sunday of every August as Friendship Day.’

Utter rubbish. Yes, Americans do have a fascination for such ‘days’ throughout the year. Did you know there’s a day called ‘Ask a stupid question day?’ Don’t believe me? Here’s the entire list. But most of these days are not date-specific, they’re rather assigned to certain Sundays of the month, maybe because if they fell in the middle of the week, they’d hit productivity levels big time. So the first Sunday of August is reserved for Friendship. But there’s no authentic proof to explain its origin.

So the next time you decide to barge into someone’s inbox or tie a ‘dosti ki rakhi’ on your friends’ wrists, ask yourself whether we really need a day to celebrate this sacred bond. And in all likelihood, you’ll get a reply that’ll set you thinking. In the meanwhile, let me leave you with this beautiful image, without having to pay Airtel to convey my love for my friends!

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