Friday, August 29, 2008

NOT A DROP TO DRINK...


The recent water crisis at home had him by the horns. Early mornings became the norm as the water supply ceased at 9 AM and resumed only at 4:30 PM. To add to the water woes, he had many guests dropping in over the next few weeks when water was scarce. He was in bad shape, arranging for alternate sources of water, filling up buckets, washing machine, utensils & any container that could hold water. The extra trouble made him miserable( come as it did during his recovery days) until he thought beyond his selfish orb and was reminded of those who are victims of so much more suffering because people like him waste so much water and crib when there isn’t any left. There are thirsty millions out there for whom using water for daily ablutions & washing clothes is a liability. There are those, who walk miles, unmindful of the mortifying heat to procure potable water. The thought of those millions shake and shame him, and he knows, if there is to be water for everyone, then one must save.

 

He has started saving water. It’s a miniscule contribution in a country of billions, but he muses, if he can save even a glass of water everyday, imagine what it can do if like minded people across the country save a glass each  …. So much water saved- So many lives improved

 

So when will you start saving? Does it require you to join an organization? Or does someone need to tell you more about the ill-effects of water-shortage? No, not at all. Whoever you are, you can help save. All it requires is will, and a little time out of your busy lives. Stop wasting water when you’re brushing your teeth or taking a bath – don’t let the elixir of life run unnecessarily from the taps when not in use. Check for leaks, and fix them. Make sure all water outlets are tightly shut. Don’t use more than necessary. Every drop makes an ocean. Here is our opportunity to make a difference.

 

 

 

On a lighter note, a saying goes thus:

 

“Save water. Bathe with your neighbour’s daughter”

 

Statutory warning : Do NOT try the abovementioned at home. It is only meant to add an element of humor and the author does not advocate this and guarantees broken bones to the defector. You can’t be expected to save water with a crippled body :)

 

Monday, August 04, 2008

DOES IT HELP YOU FORGET?

Some drink to enjoy the freedom from the monotonous drone of everyday life while some drink to socialize with strangers, peers & superiors. Some drink to shed their inhibitions while some drink for health, since studies prove that an occasional drink might not be bad at all. And some drink … to forget

Alcohol does take one to a world free of daily worries and unleashes human emotions in exaggerated measures. While happiness is contagious and always welcome, it is shadows of anger & depression that lurk menacingly in the dark corners of the mind and are granted fiendish proportions by alcohol. Having lived in the City of Pubs, Bangalore for many years, he has had a lot of high-spirited acquaintances in whom he has observed the ‘after-effects’, so to say. More often than not, they’ve gone on the much-vaunted “happy-high”, where troubles are dispensed of and friends & loved ones and having fun is all that matters. The alcohol has made them do hilarious, fun, often silly & crazy things. Things one can be proud of or embarrassed by later. Things one can reminisce with a group of friends, and laugh about. Things that good memories are made of…

Anger… an effect of alcohol which he’s very familiar with, and detests the most. Vain seniors, egoistic friends & anti-social elements have been models of display often enough. If alcohol can give the joy to fly sky-high, it can also break the shackles of deep-seated unrest, envy, hatred or mean streak. It can give one a sense of absolute power, and of absolute scorn for consequences. It loosens the tongue, hands & feet, as well as morals. The outbreak of anger under the spell of alcohol spells havoc for those unfortunate enough to be around

But probably the most self-destructive effect of alcohol is the underlying depression it can reveal. Several films have been made on the eternal loser, the jilted lover, the social outcast, who drinks to forget. The Spirits might rid one of their woes temporarily, but once they wear off, the state of senselessness & the mask of attempted joy fade as well. If alcohol can take one away to a private heaven, it can also drag them down to a private hell, a hell of their own making. The respite from memories is but temporary. Memories always return, like an out-of-control boomerang.

He knows someone (let’s call him Sam) who started drinking to forget his personal & professional woes. Instead, it dragged Sam into an abyss he is not strong enough to return from. It made his miseries indelible, and now alcohol is his mistress, to shed his tears with.
He has always wondered … does alcohol REALLY help forget? Is the Spirit potent enough to actually lift spirits? There are countless such Sams out there, battling the spirits and battling their inner demons, a war they’re most likely to lose. He sees them wasting away and ponders. There definitely are much better ways to forget the troubles coiled within, snake like, which won’t let one breathe.

When life becomes rough and everyone & everything seems stacked against you, try a friend you trust. It gives a different high and a definite relief. You’ll never want Spirits again. Here’s to all those people who are high…. high on life, love and friendship. Cheers!


“If friendship is your weakest point, then you are the strongest person in the world”
Abraham Lincoln


A sense of great adventure prevails prowling the roads of Mumbai at nightfall. They say life lies in the details, and observation nurtures your mind. The streets of Mumbai provide ample nourishment for an open, curious mind. Think that sleeping under the sky with only the blanket of stars for company is a great idea? Think again. Against the imposing, sometimes suffocating backdrop of huge multistoried buildings & rhythmic clatter of railway tracks under constantly rushing metal monsters, lie people on pavements under the open sky, with nothing more than a thin sheet of newspaper as their barrier against nature and the clawing, dream-breaking prods of mosquitoes, children, animals and the Policeman’s stick. Yet they do not hesitate to share their meager blanket of paper & miniscule bed with those who have neither. A beedi is half dangling from the mouth of an asleep, old man, who’s provided shelter tonight to a weak, cold stray. The calm on his face starts reflecting in mine. The waves are crashing against the fortified stone walls, and somewhere inside, a child is rejoicing.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

RED BLURS MY SIGHT

Image courtesy : Blackstarshine at DeviantArt


Red is on his hands
And she, tripping over his instincts
Strikes with her virgin fangs

They lay wrapped in the mist around them
In that perfect moment
Their souls were bared
They lay naked, nervous
Ecstatic, yet oh-so-scared

He counts
The goose bumps on her body
Smells the beads rushing from her forehead
Like fingers running
Searching, tearing
Up & down his unmade bed

He’s blind to the world
Senseless to his sin
And embers of her eyes
Plunging deep within

Fiery lips
Breathe venom
And lift him up
Death finally rests
In his stormy, silent, empty cup

Red blurs my sight…

Saturday, July 19, 2008

THE FORCE FIELD


The comedy of events & incidents usually lies in the underlying tragedy of the subject matter. What most of the world laughs at can evoke the Demon of doubts in one’s mind. I’ve been uncomfortable for a week now, what with my back rebelling against the man who’s abused and ignored it for some time now. The last few days of rest have got me back on my feet … days which were interminably long & decorated with pain. Meanwhile, the spin of the cosmos was measured by incessant phone calls, continuous web browsing, and soothing music, inspiring books and thought provoking movies. And on the night I felt my immune system had finally tamed the beast of pain admirably enough, I celebrated by subjecting myself to one & a half hours of mindless comedy. The movie was about a guy who falls in love with a girl he meets in a hostel blackout and doesn’t even get to see her face. It depicts his struggle to find out who that girl was & in the bargain realizes that men ARE chauvinists & view women in a condescending manner as mere objects, not persons. This realization & his consequent acceptance of the same make him the darling of all the hostel girls. Now there was this funny scene where he talks about the “anti-intimacy force field” that guys usually put around themselves to avoid getting involved emotionally with a girl, which had me in splits. That is when, the Demon of doubts awoke. There, in that hilarious scenario lay my tragedy. Maybe tragedy is too harsh a word to use for my predicament, but when I see people misunderstanding me & pointing a finger at me, accusing me of being insensitive & aloof, I wonder if they are right. To add to my dilemma, I KNOW that at times, they are! What is this I talk about? I talk about my personalized, super-strong, impenetrable “force field”.

I have lived away from my parents, my home since I have been little. The very time when a child needs to be nurtured with parental care & craves for their love was when I had to be sent away by extremely reluctant parents for a better future. Although this going away gave me freedom & many heart-warming experiences, it also erected the “anti-intimacy force field” around me. The numerous years of hostel life took me away physically & emotionally from my parents. I got accustomed to not seeing them for months at a stretch. I ceased to feel lonely. I got used to living without those who I cared about the most. I forgot how to care for anyone, and lost my ability to feel for another. Henceforth I could connect with few people on an emotional level. I do cry when I watch an emotionally charged movie or listen to songs of separation & longing, but try as I might, the magic required to prop up a personal alliance, be it friendship, love, family ties, seemed to have been erased from my psyche. I might be your friend, but the concern that defines friendship may always be lacking. I may be your lover, but the comfort of intimacy may always be amiss. I might be your brother, but I may never be protective about you. I might be your son and love you with all my heart, but you’ll probably never be able to tell from my actions and words.

Many term my behaviour as ‘professional’ and pass it off as normal. They say this is the perfect attitude to carry whilst in Mumbai & in this industry where people are friendly with you when you’re up in life, and strangers the moment the earth moves beneath your feet. They are mistaken. Irrespective of the good or bad people around me, this is who I am, sans pretensions.

Every face wears a mask. I wear a broken one.

Every mirror reveals less than it shows. You’ll never know what I hold within.

Every human is a flawed creation. The slate of my life is clean.

I fear I could never be the ideal son, the best friend, the perfect lover, the awesome brother….

How do I unplug this force field?



Saturday, April 26, 2008

PHIR....

Phir unhi raston mein aa gaye hain do-raahein
Phir goad mein uski so jaane ko jee chaahe


Phir unhi ungliyo ko thaam kar usne jaana


Wo moam ki tarah pighalta hai
Wo aarzoo ki tarah phisalta hai
Wo jaagte sapne dekhtaa hai
Aur sotey aahey bhartaa hai


Chehro mein dekhtaa hai woh usi ka chehra
Khwahishon par phir ye kaisa pehra?


Tum nahi hamaare, ye sach sheeshey saa saaf
Ek hi bahaana : Gustakhi maaf....

Friday, April 18, 2008

THE TOY SOLDIER

Image courtesy = www.amrk.net
I BURIED A TOY SOLDIER
I BURIED IT MANY YEARS AGO
WRAPPED IN BANDAGES, DENTED, BROKEN
IT SURVIVED THE PENDULUM’S TO AND FRO

DESPITE RUST AND MILDEW, IT MARCHED ON AND ON
TILL ONE DAY I DUG IT OUT, WELL PAST ITS’ FINAL DAWN
THE BANDAGES HAD WITHERED
THE SOLDIER HAD CRUMBLED
BRUTALLY CRUSHED AND DAINTILY HUMBLED

MY JOURNEY HAS BEGUN, FULL OF ECSTACY AND PAIN
AND MY SOLDIER WILL NEVER BE MY COMPANION AGAIN

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NO FAITH

Image Courtesy = "Asphyxia" - www.jeehwang.com
NO FAITH...
My joy
My grudge
My sweat
My blood
All mine
Not yours
NO FAITH...
My love
My grouse
My genius
My flaws
All mine
Not yours
NO FAITH...
Empty facades
Broken shards
Smirking masks
House of cards
All yours
Not mine
NO FAITH...
Ink touches paper, words come slow
Why this must be, I do not know
My cup runneth over, oceans in my eyes
And emotions must flow, emotions must flow

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

ONE FLIGHT, MANY MUSINGS


The siesta being over, my dhyaan shifts to the sight outside at 31,000 feet above sea level. The azure blue of the sky puts the mind in blissful stasis. Sunrays filter through the cotton wool of the clouds like lights from heaven above. Far in the distance, clouds & blue sky merge in a pure haze. I reach out for it in my mind, but it dissolves slowly from heavenwards view. A gaze at terra firma reveals the long, mercurial rivers forcing their path through obstacles of the land, finally relenting and snaking, cleaving the vast landscape. Glints of light reflected off my watch smile back at my narrowed eyes. The sun – a goblet of fire, is bright yet gentle, and the ocean below a silent vat of gold. The sun – descending into nothingness, changes the horizon to a mix of yellow, orange & red. Many a hide-and-seek later, the goblet is gone, and its impersonators on earth take over – a dizzy blur as the plane starts to descend…





On his flight back to Mumbai, he has many mixed feelings, the predominant one being that of regret of returning so early. He has always called Bangalore his second home, and there are so many memories & attachments in that city that he fails to get enough of it. On this occasion, knowing that the next few days are to be spent in lazy, unproductive chaos, he seriously regrets coming back so soon. Mumbai is a city of wonders & temptations – “Maya nagri” as they call it, and it draws not only foreigners but also sons of the soil to its sights, its sounds, fragrances, its histories and also its mysteries. It draws him in a similar fashion, but much to his chagrin, it might probably never be a place which he can call “home” from his heart. An inexplicable & burning hollowness and loneliness engulfs him every time he returns to Mumbai, in spite of having so many people around. Mumbai is one city which fails to breach the invisible barrier around him. He had spent a lot of money to get to and fro from Bangalore for just a few days, but it was really worth it. As the punchline for Mastercard goes, “There are some things money can’t buy…” This is probably one of those things ….peace of mind.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

CHILDHOOD - LOST & FOUND

Taare Zameen Par brings back many uncomfortable memories of his childhood. He wasn’t suffering from ADD (Attention Deficit Syndrome) or dyslexia, but was coaxed in a similar manner to stay at a boarding school. He was told by mother that he had been very naughty & had to go far away for disciplining. The actual reason to send him there was the paucity of good schools in his hometown. The young child did not understand that, nor did he know what the prospect of enrolling in a boarding school held for him. He assumed it bode ill and threw tantrums, begged, pleaded – any childish tactic that he’d learnt could tug at the heartstrings of an elder. It doesn’t always work - he learnt it the hard way. Within no time, items got ticked off the list of things to take along. The bags were on the verge of ripping at the seams, unable to contain the massive contents inside, much like the enormity of tears he was holding back. Dad stayed stern & stone faced through the ordeal. The child tried looking for some emotions on mother’s face, his last refuge, and was heartbroken to see none - none more than that of a silently weeping statue. He reasoned with dad, from when they left the tiny but comfortable home to the time they reached the huge, uninviting metal gates of the hostel, thousands of miles away, but to no avail. As he watched his parents leave him there & their vehicle dissolving into the distance, his world came crashing down. He withdrew into a shell for 8 long years, every moment of which took its toll on him, and his only refuge remained in his songs & his sketches…

The present: to the movie he’s watching, he realizes he’s not crying. Memories have cornered him & stifled his cry. His emotions soar high on the song “Maa”. He chokes and suddenly realizes - his feelings have gone beyond words……..


A visit to Kids r Us in Dhanbad brings with it some joyful moments. The splash of happy colors across the nursery hits him in the face & socks the early-morning haze off him. The kids look vibrant in their colorful sweaters, but their faces narrate a different story. They are dazed, sleepy, with runny noses. Some are utterly bewildered by this strange & different looking man. Some are weeping silently, some bellowing aloud. Their vacations having just got over, many are missing their parents, their cozy beds, their playthings. They’re at that early stage of life when no burden of grades, awards or expectations clouds their young minds, and their close ones are all that matter to them. He makes it a point to make them smile that morning. He sings, dances & recites rhymes for them. They follow in their own innocent manner and make everything more colorful. The chorus of little voices, some childishly innocent, some interrupted by sniffles ring out in the corridors. A one & a half year kid surprises him by singing tear-jerking songs replete with emotion. Soon, they’re all prancing around, dancing with gay abandon. Frowns start changing into smiles – some morbidly shy, some unabashedly broad. He struggles to capture the kinetic children on the little frame of his camera but finds an indelible picture of them embedded into his memory. He had come to add joy to the childrens’ morning. Instead, he finds himself going away with the gift of mirth, courtesy God’s little angels. His mouth curves into a smile…

“Dekho inhe ye hain, oas ki boondein

Patto ki goad me, aasmaan se koodein

Angdai le phir, karwat badalkar

Nazuk se moti, hans de fisalkar kar

Kho na jaye ye, Taare Zameen Par………”



Thursday, March 27, 2008

ELEPHANTA BECKONS

A chance visit to the Gateway of India brought with it a barrage of old memories. It was here, where for the first time 128 Idol Three contestants from all over the country & abroad had gathered together. I hardly knew a soul back then, and this is where my Idol fellowship first began. As we’d all stood against the Gateway, the waterfront had been dotted by numerous boats & steamers. One of them was to be ours for the evening. The memory of that “boat party” remains vivid in my mind. It was the beginning of an unforgettable journey…

This time round, things are different. The Gateway “beautification” project has begun. The erstwhile open space around the gateway is now congested with cement & stone, yet a sense of lingering sameness wafts around. Back then, it would have been impossible to saunter around unescorted without getting mobbed. Now, many dawns & dusks later, life is more chilled out and I dare to walk around the Gateway, oblivious of whether I’m being looked at or not. As I make a final circle around the monument, the beckoning chatter of a government guide draws my attention to Elephanta caves. I’ve been coming to Mumbai since I was little but have never visited this relic of the ancient past. Without much contemplation, I board the grandiosely christened “cruise”, which is nothing more than a rundown fishing boat, now re-styled to accommodate more people.
The boat journey is long. At the end of it, the sudden gust of soothing winds takes my attention away from the annoying humidity to the approaching pier. The backdrop of tiny hills adds a good first impression. The seagulls and the abandoned fishing boats give me an indication of the good things to come. Alighting from the “cruise”, I walk towards the toy train which runs from the docking point to the beginning of the ascent towards the caves. The “khatar-khatar” of the slow, dilapidated train adds a certain charm to the journey. The climb uphill is tedious, but I have all the time in the world and move slowly & leisurely. Innumerable monkeys dot the route and it is most amusing to see simian families playing around with, believe it or not, puppies & kittens. A hot & sweaty trek later, I face the now familiar encounter at the ticket office. As most of us know, foreigners get charged more than local tourists at all heritage sites in India. On this occasion, I’m asked to produce my identity proof (for obvious reasons). I do what I usually do in such situations – I flash my best smile & say, “Kya bhaai, ek saathi Bharatiya se ID maangogey?” (hey bro, you gonna ask a fellow Indian for an ID?) What I get in return is a sheepish smile from the ticketing fellow & the handing over of a “local” ticket.

I enter the first cave and am immediately engulfed by darkness. My eyes take some time adjusting to this new environment. There are lots of tourists at the cave, prominently groups of foreigners with their typical hats & backpacks. Among them is a woman who has come alone, confused, yet dignified. This svelte Swiss maiden is unlike any lady I’ve ever come across. A conversation is struck in those ethereal surroundings and what follows is an exchange not only of kind words & smiles, but also something special through that magical pathway called the eyes. Co-incidence or not, a romantic Hindi number is playing in the background. We part ways to feast our minds on objects other than each other, hoping to catch up at the end of that day’s tour.

















There are five caves in all, but the most scenic & worthwhile is the first one. This cave was crafted as an uninterrupted tribute to Lord Shiva by his devotees and it depicts him in his utmost glory. Snapshots from various periods of his life are carved beautifully in the now crumbling stone and are a visual treat. My interest is piqued by one massive piece which depicts Shiva alone as the Holy Trinity of Hindu mythology – the Creator, the Preserver and the Destroyer (contrary to the trinity being Brahma, Vishnu & Shiva). This further engrains the theorem how mythologies of all cultures can be so contradicting. The centre of the cave has a Mahalingam, that divine symbol of male fertility, the four-sided entry of which is guarded by imposing 11 feet stone sentinels. I move from this massive cave to the other smaller caves which, much to my disappointment have nothing more than tiny dark chambers.
Surely, there must be more to see, I tell myself. The travel-bug in me wants to explore more and I hot-foot it on the small hills around. The uncharted & rubble-laden path ahead leads to the top of the hill, aptly titled Tope (cannon) hill.
There are 2 massive cannons here, which look more like giant pistols and a glance in the direction where they’re pointing gives one an idea where the enemy would’ve been most likely anticipated from. A look at its foundation surprises me. The construction of the cannon is a mix of new technology & old machinery. There are the usual inlets for cannon fodder, and systematic outlets for spent cartridges. The foundation leads to an inner chamber where not too many people venture because of the abject uninviting darkness. Since I’m armed with neither torch nor matches, I advance gingerly & place my faith in the light from the camera flash to show the way. After many well & ill-placed steps (often into animal poo), slivers of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel shine through. What was the purpose of this cellar, not even the guides could tell. A war shelter, perhaps? I could only hazard a guess.With the sightseeing over, I move back on my tracks.


The trek downhill is brief & swift. I feel exhausted & dehydrated, and a much needed meal later, I walk my way back to the dock. I look out longingly for those hazel eyes which had taken my breath away for some brief moments at the onset of this adventure. I find silence instead. With a heavy heart, I take a quiet journey back towards Mumbai shores, staring at the waves gently sweep by....

Monday, February 25, 2008

OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE...

The rotors are whirring at full throttle, and the sunlight filters through the spinning wings into his sleep-laden eyes. He’s never really liked small planes, but the fatigue of the past few days have made him immune to the claustrophobic environment of the tiny flying box. He’s stayed awake the whole night and now, even though his body is crying out in exhaustion, he cannot really get himself to sleep. There is a bundle of thoughts between him and his conscience that morning. He has a lot of things to prove, to himself, his admirers as well as his critics. The impending show in Dimapur, Nagaland is one with individual performances after a long hiatus. He has done well in the group performances so far, and it is time to prove his mettle in solo performances as well. There have been a few uncomfortable questions raised against his ability to hold a crowd on his own, and they’ve been justified ones at that. Having been a dentist, it hasn’t been in his nature to shout out loud or to jump left, right & centre and run across the stage so as to sway the crowd along with his moves. A Doctor is calm, composed & makes the patient feel at ease by putting them into a cheerful & relaxed state of mind. In Indian Idol & in Live shows, he has been expected to be the antithesis of this – He’s supposed to be wild, unrestrained, loud - a stimulant, an aphrodisiac! But he remembers what he himself had said during an interview – “The best thing about performing live is the unparalleled thrill of having the crowd at your control …the feeling of being God for an hour or so, and then getting back to being a normal person, one among all of us.” Show business requires certain traits to be picked up, and the mantra to success is adapting to new situations, creating new scenarios and coming out of one’s comfort zone. Over the past year, he’s broken many self-placed barriers & has slowly but steadily come out of a shell, all for his own good. His vow to keep learning with time has not gone unfulfilled. Today, the learning over the recent past will be put to trial, and this gives him some anxious moments.

As the plane starts descending, he sees a welcome change on the horizon. The appearance of mountains brings back memories of school & expectedly, a smile on his face. He’s had a few friends from Nagaland, and from what he knows of them; he believes them to be a humble & talented people. He’s heard other things as well, some of which, unfortunately, has not been very good. The showdown between extremists & the general populace is not something that makes headlines but is very much a barb in the fabric of his country. Since the North East is something that most know little about, it is almost another world altogether. The dialogues mouthed in Chak De India by the north-eastern members of the hockey team are not far from the truth… He tries to banish the thoughts from his mind as the wheels grind against the tarmac. At the tiny airport of Dimapur which handles less than 5 flights a day, he’s welcomed by the organizers with their children dressed as little angels. Their cherubic smiles & the pink of their cheeks melt him instantaneously. His face is drawn into a smile but that soon changes to a stoic expression of concern when he enters the city & notices the roads to their destination - tiny, broken & dusty. He notices many places where there’s not a soul in sight. Someone explains that this is mainly due to lack of planning & an impending change in government but he can’t help assuming otherwise. The organizers make sure his fears are unfounded by ensuring that nothing obstructs the entourage on their way by having a jeep full of armed soldiers precede it. There is armed militia patrolling some roads & this reminds him of riot hit areas. This is something he’s seen only on television and never in his wildest dreams had he visualized that one day he would find himself in a sensitive zone and be flanked by such a high level of security. When he finally gets to the guest house, he notices the sense of urgency with which the gates are opened, the vehicles moved in and he’s whisked in. The Guest house is something out of old times – airy, spacious and homely with high ceilings - a trademark of the British era and which in today’s date is a luxury not many can afford. The caretaker of the house is a bubbly young lady who is professional, yet so warm & caring that he takes to her immediately. Her family is extremely sweet and her brother has a literal avalanche of a collection of DVDs. Out of this, one that catches his fancy & occupies his next one hour is Westlife – Live in Stockholm. He loses himself in the flawless performance of the four member boy-band – replete with superb co-ordination and simple yet captivating dance steps. As the songs & performances whiz by, he is transported to another world, imagining himself & his band, singing & performing to perfection and getting their teamwork right. The thought pumps him up further to do well that evening.


Close to the hour of the show, there is palpable anxiety in the air. The short trip to the venue gives him goose bumps, both out of excitement & by seeing the deserted roads fast filling up. The stadium had been deserted when he visited it last for a sound check, but now it is teeming with people, clawing at the gates & pounding at our vehicle. It brings back fond memories of Idol days when the fanaticism was at its peak & such things were daily occurrences for him…

The show is a sellout, for there are people as far as the eye can see. Now the challenge lies in justifying the trust of the sea of people who’ve turned up to see their favorites. Little children greet him on stage with the traditional Nagamese jacket and the show takes off from there. The crowd is not only swelling in numbers, but in their involvement as well. Only once before, in Nepal, has he seen the audience in such fervor, lapping up every word uttered and every performance dished out. They are so fantastically encouraging that he attempts a lot of things on stage which he’s never even fathomed he would do. He puts together a small composition which is appreciated & draws a lot of cat calls (had never imagined cat calls would be so satisfying one day). He jumps around, runs across …. You name it! His body’s gonna be sore for a few days but it’ll be worth it. J F4’s co-ordination is fantastic & they are in sync throughout, even in some parts which they had never prepared & performed impromptu. The singing goes up another level and he’s glad that as a band they are growing with every performance. The crowd is completely involved, enjoying every moment – they sing with us, they dance with us, they stick on till the very end. He is overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. After Nepal, this is the only show which becomes satisfying in every sense of the word – the sound, lights & the musicians have been top-notch. The performance has been good, the crowd response - outstanding, the crowd density - overwhelming (more than 15,000 people showed up, with another ten or so waiting outside the gates. Another ten did not turn up because they didn’t expect to get any tickets!!!) . The hospitality is genuine & the concern of the organizers very real. After a long time, he’s met people who see him not as a performer but as part of a family. He feels completely at home. Post-show, a party is thrown to celebrate the booming success and it goes on late into the night. The next day, the people of Dimapur get back to their normal lives & their work in politics with a smile & a sense of satisfaction. He gets back to Mumbai, with a content heart – this has been his best Valentine’s Day ever! Apart from the adulation & respect he’s gathered, he returns with the biggest prize of them all – the best compliment he’s ever received in his life – “Meiyang, you’re an inspiration and a role model to all of us here.”