Sunday, February 28, 2010

SOJOURN - MURUD JANJIRA & KASHID



Life has a way of bringing together people who you've known for a few years, perhaps many. The time frame doesn't matter; what matters is the bond you share with them. Sometimes, an eternity can be insufficient & often some special moments are all you need to know if a person can be firmly entrenched in the album of your life as friend, lover, guide or what have you. Other than the girl I love, some of my school & college friends hold my heart ransom to their invaluable presence in my life. And you can only imagine my glee at being reunited for a bit with them on one of my favorite escapades - a Road Trip :)

I was in Wynberg Allen School, Mussoorie only for two years. But as aforementioned, time is but a figure. Some lasting friendships brought Bikash, Prerna, Rahul & myself together on the Holi weekend in Mumbai (big achievement considering how near-impossible it is to "catch-up" once we've all drifted in different directions & contrasting careers. I say contrasting mainly because they have weekends off and I don't ;). One untested car for very long drives and four friends kickstarted the sojourn to Murud Janjira Fort & Kashid beach, some 200 kms out of Mumbai.


The hurdles were many, with the weekend crowd driving like lunatics & city-like traffic jams till almost 60 percent of the destination! But once they were overcome, a gentle calm descended upon mind, body & soul. The roads narrowed down to pass through old-world villages where time seems to have stood still, with ancient houses & a bountiful of palm trees, where life is lived simply & wordly desires are few. The closed down rusticity of the town soon gave way to winding roads, an open sky and a graceful ocean.


A coconut water & short snooze in a hammock later, we made our way down to the dock where lay sailboats with a charm oozing from a bygone era. Packed to a spillover, the boat set sail towards the island on which proudly stands the imposing Murud Janjira fort.

Owing to low tide, disembarkation had to be done a distance away from the sharp, rocky shore. A lot of muck & cuts later, we were in the fort. A quick perusal explained why this has supposedly remained the only unconquered fort in India's history - a fort on an island surrounded by water on all sides, a 360 degree view of any kind of approach and virtually unscaleable walls. The fort must have been self-sufficient, with resting quarters, a gigantonormous swimming pool, artillery & weapons rooms to boast of.

A thought hit me like a brick - the warriors of yore must get very good exercise, owing to the immensity of the fort & the impossibly high stairs!!! They also must've been very lonely. How soft we as human beings have become owing to technological advances & the luxuries on display in this age. Even then, the loneliness within us remains to this day. While a section of the ruins undergoing restoration towards honoring our legacy & heritage gladdened my heart, a simple thing humbled and gratified me. Standing in front of this particular structure with my friends, marvelling at its enormity, we noticed a strong beam of light through one of the windows. This beam seemed determined on finding it's way through the aperture on to us. God's Light, I thought. And this is God's way of saying Hi. I could not help but smile, smile at how kind God has been...


On my way back, I was amused to witness again how many people were willing to fit in into a single sailboat. It wasn't a mere hurry to get back home, it was a quintessential quality that we all hold within - that of sharing. That in spite of the heat & lack of space, people found reason to laugh, celebrate & sing. To not find a single frowning face in the crowd was bliss indeed.


Once ashore, it was back to the beach & the sunset leaving a lazy hue over the restless waters, making one wish that the sight of this liquid gold be preserved in memory forever. Darkness descended soon & the car began to zig-zag its' way back home, where reminiscences & laughter awaited us with open arms...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

WHITE COAT RUFFIAN


I am a Dentist. Or at least I used to be. Five years of Dental School in Bangalore encompassed many instances of mental & physical exhaustion. It was daily parlance to try avoiding the whiplash of the professors' acerbic tongue, as well as to crave the warmth of the patients' gratitude. I guess that's what kept me going in those formative years - the smile of relief of our subjects and the attainment of the elusive title of Doctor. I was to leave to pursue higher Dental studies in the United States in the month of September, 2007. Indian Idol happened and my life as we know it strapped up & went for a roller-coaster ride. Looking over my shoulder, it seems like another lifetime altogether.

Now no more a practicing Dentist, I came across a moment of nostalgia while visiting my college mates in the same country I was supposed to continue my studies in. "Pal bhar ke liye koi humein pyaar kar le, jhoothaa hi sahi", so goes the popular Dev Anand song. And pal bhar ke liye I became the jhootha Dentist in the NYU College of Dentistry., donning the flowing white coat, mouth mask & gloves once again. The dam of restraint crumbled to pieces and memories of dental school came flowing back. And with the memories came the realisation that being a Doctor has always been tough (for obvious reasons). Tougher still, is being subjected to the same things we put patients through when we ourselves become patients - sticking needles, making incisions, stiching them up and the like, promising them that "it won't hurt a bit". Nine out of ten times it really doesn't, thanks to better training & advanced anesthesia. But we all know that battles are often lost in the mind, and pre-emption of pain is something the best anesthesia in the world can't wish away. A simple procedure like administering an injection or something more mentally stressful like suturing of a wound creates a mountain out of an otherwise painless molehill. It's easy for us to say nice things to our patients to placate them & to prepare them for a procedure, but a good Doctor would be one who can gauge both sides of the coin, i.e. understand the plight of the patient & genuinely show the necessary concern but at the same time remember that not every act is possible in a humane manner. For which, I'm forever grateful to my patients who helped me learn and let me help them. Ah, but I'm wavering from the nostalgia sitting like a morning mist over my thoughts :)

As I walked around in the corridors of NYU, I saw apparitions, phantasms. It wasn't my mind playing tricks; rather the sweet, disconnected sterile smell of the hospital triggering a series of suppressed memories - of friends, professors, laughter, patients, mad rushes, joy & despair in a similar, sterile corridor half a world away. I've heard that my hospital has changed; that the faces of the walls & of those I knew are no more the same. But memories are strange bedfellows. They leave you when you're in a crowd, surround you in your solitude & refuse to change one bit. Never had I known that six years of my life as a Doctor could flash by the mind's eyes in so mercurial a manner, and I wouldn't have it any other way...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

MY DEBUT MOVIE


This one is for all the people who've read my blog ever since I was forced into starting one. I've often mentioned at various avenues that I'm a person who expresses himself better with the written word rather than speech. But today, I'm wordless - both with the pen & mouth.

My debut movie under Yash Raj Films called BADMAASH COMPANY, with Shahid Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Vir Das is hitting the screens on the 7th of May, 2010 and I cannot but feel limitless exhilaration. All those months of hard work, and the first fruits of it are finally beginning to show...

No word can explain the bouncing-off-the-walls phenomenon I'm experiencing right now, so all I'd like to say is - You've supported me unconditionally, right from the days of Indian Idol and I have deep gratitude for that. All I ask is, no matter what the fate of the film, be there with me. Keep me in your prayers, always.

And yes, go watch the movie in the theaters. Make this extraordinary story an extraordinary hit :)