Turning 25!

Dear 21 year old self,


I know you are doing pretty good, rather brilliant, if I may say so at this moment. You just got your first credit card, which is a big deal to you, a job you are proud of and most importantly, good people around you. The friends you are hanging out with right now are going to be an important part of your time to come, some of whom you will call up at 4AM and say “Listen, I screwed up”. The surprise 21st birthday party was killer and the dinner that followed it too. Now you may wonder what wisdom I have gained in a period of four years that I will share with you. It’s not much but let me assure you, you will not be disappointed where you have got.

Chicago is beautiful; its suburbs are calm and serene. New York City is breathtaking to say the least and one needs to spend a year of his life there, well I definitely intend to. And my good old Bloomington, of which you have never heard of before and where I am right now, is a small student town, lively as hell and filled with activity. Let me tell you that for a person who has never left Hyderabad in 21 years for more than a 2 month holiday now and then, the next 4 years of your life is filled with a lot of travel. Some of it alone, some to really far off places and some to a point of no return and you will enjoy each one of those.

So, that brings me to the point of this letter. Sitting at coffee shops and working on case studies, roaming around a small student town and its downtown and attending random music events are some of the things that have been a fascination for a long time and I assure you that most of these small things have been accomplished. Over the last four years, apart from fulfilling all these childhood fascinations, and adding a few more to the to-do list, you have sort of a clearer picture of what to do in life, which had always been a puzzle all through.

We are fascinated by numbers, especially us Indians. The very idea of putting a number next to every little thing in life is something that comes naturally to us. Creating pointless milestones out of irrelevant entities is a common pass time, Sachin’s 100th 100 being a clear example here. Living half the world away from the homeland has not taken an iota of Indianess out of me. I strongly believe that biryani and pani puri can bring about world peace and the Golden Gate Bridge is nothing in front of the Tank Bund back home. No arguments on those. Similarly, I still love numbers and turning 25 is a big deal. Turning 21 was a big deal as well, in a good way, but 25 is weird.

The first 21 seemed like a lifetime. That was the only time when you naively trust people to be as nice to you as you are to them. You make a ton of friends, become close to some and lose a lot of them as well. With every friend you lose, you lose a bit of yourself. Some memories, activities, that you associate with one cannot be repeated with anyone else since the effect is just not the same. You will realize that some friendships last for a reason, some for a season and very few for a lifetime. Believing this lessens the pain of the ones that can’t go the distance.

This letter is not an expression of rebellion or sadness but of optimism. We are all born with the innate ability to rise above all the pain and suffering that life constantly brings. We are all born with a glimmer of hope, that maybe we can change things for ourselves if we really tried. I know I can overcome adversity because there is a part of me that will never give up. Here’s to overcoming our greatest obstacles.

All things considered, you have done a fairly decent job so far. While I am really glad to turn 25 in six months, there are certain things I miss about being 21; things that have withered with time just the slightest bit. The idealism I had, the pure belief that time is the best equalizer, the self-righteousness in decision making and a few other things. I have often wondered the very purpose of life and the comic strip below is the closest I have come to believe.


P.S. The core of man’s spirit comes from new experiences. True Story. Here’s to Supertramp! 

At the mercy of the driver

Well no. I am not talking of the driving ability nor the agility with which the careful & sensitive Hyderabadi Cab & Auto drivers traverse through the busy and polluted roads, just to take us to our destinations safely. No.

The objective of this essay is to help you understand the greatest fact of life: “Himesh Reshammiya is THE Almighty” – with the motto: When there is faith, there is no fear.

Picture this: You are sitting on the back seat of a Tata Sumo at 11:30 in the night and that too after 9 to 15 hours of mind numbing work. The driver is half asleep and so are the rest of your “cab-buddies”. The folks who have iPods or MP3 phones, plug them into their ears and snore away into oblivion and that leaves you alone, the aam admi/aurat, at the mercy of the driver‘s awesome MP3 collection or his favourite FM Station. Everything seems innocent and before you know what hit you, a loud “Dhin-Chik Dhin-Chik” sound starts coming from right under your own seat. The speaker system is so state-of-art that the seat acts like a trampoline. If you understand the language of that chart-busting song, you will understand the lyrics of the song. Incase you have never tried that or don’t understand the language of that song, try it the next time.

To cut your curiosity short, I present a very popular song on which our very own Abhishek Bachchan (of Paaaaa fame) dances to:

Appudi Phode Phode Phode
Asathi Phodu kannaale
Ippudi Phodu Phodu Phodu
Izhuthu Phodu kayyaale

Which literally translates to:
Put it like this,
Put it like that,
Mesmerize me and,
Put it like that,
Put it like this,
Pull & put, like this, like that!

Hmm. So. Well, I leave it to you to imagine what happens to that one person, listening to this song at 12 in the night in a cab/auto. I am no hater of the dhin-chic clan of music but THIS setting is too much for probably even Mithunda’s biggest fan to digest.

The driver, you see, is a bloody egoistic guy (haven’t come across a female driver). He does not like the rest of the folks listening to their own music on iPods & MP3 players while he’s playing such excellent music. And out of uncontrollable anger, he increases the volume. One of the daring folks requests the driver:

“Bhaiyya, thoda volume kam karo please”.

Duh! The driver has all his Ayn Rand Objectivism in place, like “he exists only for himself” and “he is the only one who controls the volume button of the music system” blah blah blah. Basically, he’s pissed. First you make him a universal brother Bhaiyya and also dare to speak to him in Hindi? When in Telangana be a Telanganite, he thinks! And further up goes the volume. Aaah, Oooh! 4000Watts of unadulterated bliss and all coming from under your own seat. How fortunate are you that you spend almost 2-3 hours of every single day of your pointless existence listening to these soul rising and life fulfilling songs. Who the hell needs Zakir Hussain & Pandit Ravi Shankar after these or even A R Rahman? God is there, very much, and looking down upon you and smiling his heart out. And, at this point I would like to let you know that the protagonist of this story is not you but my humble self, I.

At that moment, when the whole world seemed so hazy and I felt so close to God, the historian in me came alive and tried to figure out where this all started. Well folks, remember the Summer of 2006? No, not Mumbai Train attacks nor the nuclear treaty. It was that glorious summer that a new star rose in India and took Indian music industry to an all new level. He had been around but then created hysteria… a huge fat guy with a cap started a sensation called

“Tera Tera Teraaaa Surrrrrooooooooooooooooooooooooo

(the nnn was added for the nasal effects)

Remember that? Yes, yes … I can see that expression on your face – “Aaaah” (a full faced smile with moist eyes) I know. It was an unprecedented hit and almost got him a few Grammies, just that the silly Americans could not understand what was being sung. Duh! Morons. What the heck is Jai Ho or even Roja in front of that. For his achievements in that glorious summer, the “All India Auto & Cab Drivers Union” named him their “Man of the Century”. To prove his cynical critics that he’s not overrated and and he’s got the talent to deserve the award the next year too, he doled out “Aap Kaa Suroor”, the movie. Thanks to India’s popular and favourite news channels Headlines Today & India TV, this was the Song of the Year 2006 in both the channels and was used as background score for various Automobile ads. Those years, his popularity threatened folks like SRK, Shashi Tharoor and Aamir Khan that Shashi joined Twitter, SRK bought an IPL team and Aamir went crazy and made Mangal Pandey. We all know what happened to their efforts. Huh. Who can even come close to Himessss? To please his fans/followers/devotees he doled out 3 films and numerous albums since then and there are several more in the pipeline. There is also a story of how an auto-wallah learnt english and html and created a page for him on Wikipedia. If that is not enough, the rest of the folks at All India Auto & Cab Drivers Union, in order to show their belief that God exists and has come down to the earth in the form of Himesssss, have passed a fatwa to play his songs in all vehicles and thereby, also enlighten those folks who work so hard and miss out these basic essentials of life.

Himess is God. Period. If you dare to disagree and think you can go and do a hunger strike and people will listen to you, you are mistaken! The driver will just turn the volume further high. Peace.

Phew. On another note, who the bloody hell introduced Drums & Remixes to the India music industry. Ass. I humbly wish to play “Appudi Phode Phode” & “Suroor” on the day of that crackpot’s funeral eve.