Thursday, September 20, 2012

Love knows no boundaries - 1

The best and the most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart – Hellen Keller

It was about 5 years back that I came to Hyderabad. I was working as a Marketing manager with Nagarjuna Constructions back then. That day I didn’t take my car out for I found it’s tyres punctured. So, I took the crowded bus, on the way to office when I saw her in the seat right in front of me. The perfume she carried tore through my senses and there she was, laughing her heart out. The way she was talking and giggling with her colleague gave me an impression that she was someone who loved herself and was an eternal optimist. The conversation was completely one sided as her friend was dead silent most of the time, preferring to just 'Hmmm' her way out. It was her radiating smile that finally swept me off my feet. She bid her friend bye leaving the seat next to her vacant. So I promptly sat beside her.

‘Hi, I am Sri’, I introduced myself.

She didn’t look at me. I thought she couldn't hear me amidst all that Hyderabadi clutter and so I again greeted her. Busy typing an SMS on her cell phone, I thought it was very rude of her to ignore me like that. Did I just make a fool of myself? A few minutes of silence later, she woke up ready to alight the bus as her destination had come. I was angry and upset at having been ignored in such an ignominious way. But still I couldn’t help but notice that she was entering an institute and wondered was she old enough to be a teacher there? The bus conductor then announced loudly ‘Hellen Keller’.

I ignored the commotion that followed in the bus and started pondering. Why didn’t she even acknowledge my presence when I greeted her? It was about ten minutes later that I recalled the conductor having announced the name of the bus stage as ‘Hellen Keller’. And then everything began to fall in place. There was indeed a ‘Hellen Keller Institute for Deaf and Deaf Blind’ and I was now sure she entered the same. Questions began to crop up and I answered them myself.

Is she deaf? No
Is she dumb? No. I clearly heard her talking with her friend.
Is she a teacher? But isn’t she also young enough to be a student? Let’s find out.

Unfortunately, I had to make a presentation the same day to the board. So I decided to check her out the next day. But, it wasn’t until 4 days later that on a fine Saturday morning, I finally managed the time to visit the institute. The watchman at the gate stopped me. I showed him my ID and started walking on the beautiful pathway surrounded by  lush green lawns, admiring the Gothic architecture and the serene ambience of the institute. Suddenly a boy emerged, huffing and puffing his lungs out after running all the way to me from nowhere. He was curiously checking me out and obviously wanted to find out who I was. Looking at him, I guessed he was old enough to be in the fifth or sixth standard. Using the sign language, he asked me what I was looking for and then I realised he was like many others in the institute, both deaf and dumb.

So, I took out a piece of paper and wrote down ‘Lady Teacher – Long hairs!!’ I took my chance for I was yet unclear as to who she was - a student or a teacher. To my surprise, he led me directly to a class where she was teaching Mathematics to the second standard students.

It was a pretty weird way of teaching mathematics. Abacus was extensively used and everyone in the class used the sign language for communication. A typical maths class is characterised by decent amount of decibel levels, whereas this class was totally silent. I decided to wait outside till she was done with the class; utilising this free time to prepare myself and conjure up ideas to start off a conversation with her. Is she also deaf? Something deep inside me was refusing to believe so. I was absolutely sure she was not deaf. Fair complexioned and round faced with sharp eyes and a jawline that reminded me of Scarlett Johansson, she was dressed in a chiffon pink saree, tall and slim enough to look absolutely stunning and smelt the same way she did that day in the bus. It was mesmerising to say the least.

‘Hello. Aren’t you the one who sat beside me that day in the bus?’ she started off straightaway with a question that was interrogative in its tone.

‘Yes. I had also greeted you then. But I guess you were busy messaging someone’ I wasn’t looking at her when I said that.

‘Did you say something now? Sorry I am deaf’ How could she be so nonchalant while declaring that? I was shell shocked. Then she locked her eyes with mine, looking directly at me.

‘Ok. I am deaf. But I know lip reading. So whatever it is, talk while looking at me and make sure I look at you as well’ she instructed with a hearty laugh at the end.

I was clearly shaken enough to be not in the right state of mind with her anymore. But I had no other option but be myself, lest I offend her. It was pretty clear to me that she was a supremely confident assertive woman and didn’t like people showing any signs of sympathy towards her. I couldn't gather the guts to tell that I came all the way to meet her. The alibi I conjured up earlier came in handy. We were now in her room and she promptly asked me to take a seat.

‘So how can I help you?’ she asked.


‘Are you fine? Shall I get you a glass of water?’ she enquired clearly amused at how I was beginning to stutter. 

Love knows no boundaries Part 2

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Life of a Soldier...

Some people are destined for greatness (Actually they inherit superhuman genes from their progenitors!!). Others write their own destiny. He is one such soldier and this is his story.

Once upon a time in the sunny month of May, God decided to send him to walk the path called life in a sleepy town somewhere in a state called Andhra Pradesh in India. That was the time when India was having a tough time dealing with China on the East and Pakistan on the West. That was also the time when Jawaharlal Nehru was criticised and banged by the media and people in general for his failure to properly deal with the arrogance and might of the Chinese. (A little digression I guess!!). 

Anyways, he grew up amidst people who were mostly illiterate and probably were of the opinion that Black Pigs are more loyal to humans than Dogs. You can’t really blame them for their ignorance as the whole town was and is still infested with lots and lots of Pigs. (I don’t know why some people still find Pigs cute!!). His father earned just enough to afford spending on his education. Mind you, at that time in India, studying in a school was a luxury only a few could afford. Spending most of his time playing in the streets, he soon grew up to an age where most of us now ask ourselves ‘What am I going to do with my life? Will I become an Engineer or a Doctor?’ After struggling to clear his Intermediate studies, he plunged into the identity crisis mode. That’s when one of his dear friends advised him to join the Indian Air Force. Despite resistance from his parents, he decided to participate in the fair – a fair where youngsters try their luck to make it into the Armed Forces as a Non Commissioned Officer.  

Now the story of how he qualified to be stamped as ‘Fit for Induction in IAF’ is by itself an interesting one. The minimum weight one ought to have to qualify was around 48. But he was only 45 then. Alarmed by the fact that he would soon be rejected, he secretly gobbled up enough Bananas (luckily available at the fair then!!) to increase his body weight to 48 and scraped through the final medical round. (If gaining weight is so easy then why am I working out so hard in the Gym??) Thus, he began his career in the IAF at the tender age of 19. His parents were unhappy with his decision, but he stuck to his guns. Now whether it was his desire to experience the real world outside, the passion to make a difference by serving his country or to land up a government job is something that is unknown. Nevertheless, he flew off. 

At the training institute, he had a tough time adopting his frail body to the physical and mental rigours that one is made to go through. So much so that he tried to escape and return back home. But life had other plans for him. He finally made it through the rigorous training period, learning to shoot with a ~3Kg 303 rifle and running around the huge dusty grounds holding the heavy rifle ‘Shoulder up’. (Reminds me of Karan in the movie Lakshya).

The transition from civil society to a life in the Military Barracks was never going to be easy, for he was gullible and trusted people easily. His first posting was in Srinagar where he was welcomed by a gang of thieves. They posed as Inspectors of the CID and on the pretext of checking his luggage, stole cash and other valuables kept in his suitcase. That was life’s way of telling him ‘Welcome to the real world dude!!’ Soon enough he married the love of his life. She was his childhood sweetheart and they first met when her family started living as tenants in his house. Soon, they began to love the time spent with each other, chatting all the way whenever they had free time after school and college. There were no mobile phones then, so they had to physically meet to catch up and enjoy sweet nothings (That is why I hate Mark Zuckerberg!!). Sweet friendship then blossomed into love and when he finally declared his love for her at home, he was chided for reasons best known to him and his parents. Nevertheless, he managed to convince them and eventually exchanged marital vows with her - the woman he knew he couldn’t live without.  

With his soul partner supporting him all the way, life in the armed forces became a smooth journey he traversed effortlessly. Hopping around places every four to five years, he became an Indian in the true sense working with dedication for his country as well as his family. Along the way, he also became a father to a son and a daughter and that made him complete. But all wasn't hunky dory yet. His dedication to his country was something his immediate family back in his hometown couldn't fathom at all. And that probably isolated him from all things and affairs happening in his hometown. It hurt him. A farmer and soldier are two people who are experts in expectation management for they are in a very thankless profession. He moved on for he was a soldier. Along the way he saw his colleagues die in air crashes and in freak inexplicable accidents for the Armed Forces were still not modernized to international standards. Working overtime to ready the majestic SU-30 MKI's, MIG-29's and Jaguar's for wartime, he witnessed the death of his seniors and colleagues from close quarters during Operation Vijay. But he also made some friends who later went on to become his ‘Friends for Life’. He educated his children in the best possible way, giving them whatever they asked for and not compromising on their education and attire. And yet also managed to save enough to later buy a flat and become a proud owner of a home. His wife went on to become the reason he managed the finances within an income that is now ‘measly’ if not anything else. 

Living life by his rules, he happily chose to retire after 20 glorious years of service to the country; because he wanted to provide his son and daughter the best possible avenues for higher education. It has been ten years since he left the armed forces. But one can still feel the discomfort with which he is constantly trying to adapt to the whims and fancies of the civil society. Transition back to the civil society was much tougher for him for he had a wife and two children to take care of as well. But he managed everything with gusto. Guess everything else is a child’s play for a soldier who has spent 20 years of his life amidst guns, bullets, jet engines and roaring fighter jets!!

In a few days from now, he is all set to complete 30 years of service which includes 20 years as a non-commissioned officer in the IAF. And whenever I have admired him for his patience, will and dedication to his work, his humility has made me realise I am being a sissy when I whine about work in a corporate setup (I am a chronic complainer nevertheless!! By the way, I am going to retire right after cutting my 45th Birthday cake). Post retirement from IAF, his life has been a relatively smoother ride compared to many other thousands of Ex-Servicemen who are still struggling to earn a little respect and dignity from the civil society. If I tell you I am lucky enough to have seen how soldiers literally work their asses off, come no matter what; then that’s an understatement!! 

This post is dedicated to him – A truly obedient son, a lover who fought for his love, a loving and loyal husband, a father who became a living hero in the eyes of his children and above all a Soldier who with the utmost sincerity dedicated 20 years of his life serving his country. This post is dedicated to all such soldiers who sing along ‘Ab toh humein, aagey badtey hi rehna....’ 

“May God bless all the Soldiers”

signing off,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Is Facebook a Parasite or a Virus?

Hi Folks,

Is Facebook a virus or a parasite? Based on the dictionary meaning of both the nouns ‘Virus’ and ‘Parasite’, I infer that it is more like a parasite than a virus. It has diffused through our minds via the Internet and derives its nutrition from our irresistible urge to know what is going on in the lives of our peers, friends and acquaintances.

Now you might be wondering why describe FB in medical terms all of a sudden. Call it the fascination with medicine and everything remotely to do with biology these days. It is because, of late quite a lot of action has been happening in my life with a direct link to FB. And then, I  am beginning to wonder whether I have become a FB addict of sorts or not. Let me restate some facts before I proceed further:
  • If Facebook were to be a country, it would be the third largest populous country in the world
  • According to an official study done by Facebook, 190 is the average number of friends each one of us has in it
  • People now spend more time on Facebook than the time they spend daily on personal hygiene!!

Given these facts, I now have a disclaimer to make. Unlike the past, when I made sure not to hurt any sentiments through my blogs, this time I am going to be blunt and straight. So it won’t be a surprise if you as a reader don’t agree with some or all of the points and statements that I am going to make. Read further at your own risk!!

It was only yesterday that I read ‘Mark Zuckerberg marries his long time girlfriend Chan’. My first reaction was – So what? Then today, it was reported that Facebook’s stock is down after the IPO. It actually failed to ‘outperform’ and even the underwriters JP Morgan & Morgan Stanley couldn’t do much despite dumping an additional 84 million shares later. Though it was bad news for the thousands of retail investors, it was sheer music to my ears. I share a love-hate relationship with Facebook, but of late I have started wondering whether I would get rid of the addiction to it or not. And so, I am beginning to wish and pray for a divine intervention that would stop FB on its tracks and stop it further from playing havoc with my life.

If a fifth grader would ask me what ‘Facebook’ is all about, I would tell him one or all of the following depending on his ability to understand what I am trying to say (That Facebook is a bad place to be in!!)
  • Facebook is a country where people (including yours truly) don’t mind their business and instead are interested in other’s lives!! (Pun Intended)
  • Facebook is a country where people speak only three words ‘Like’, ‘Comment’ and ‘Share’
  • Facebook is a place where a simple status message put up by a decent girl would attract infinite ‘Likes’ whereas the same is not applicable to a boy/guy
  • Facebook is an institute that can teach even an introvert the ‘art of flirting’ with girls/guys/gays (Read Section 377 of the Indian Constitution)
  • Facebook is an addiction

It is not as if I abhor FB completely. I love it for the following reasons
  • Facebook enables me to stay in touch with all those fellow Facebookers who have literally forgotten the fact they have something known in common parlance as a ‘Cellular Phone’
  • Facebook lets me dump my stupid thoughts and opinions through a feature known as a ‘Status Message’ (Otherwise, I would have definitely become a nervous wreck not knowing what to do with the useless thoughts my brain conjures up time and again!!)
  • Facebook is the source of all the minuscule traffic that I ever manage to get to my blog and is also a marketing medium where I plan to potentially bombard you readers with requests to read up my upcoming untitled imaginary book (God knows when it will be published!!)

But I hate it more for reasons that are countless. Given the spatial constraints and the need to not piss Mr Mark Zuckerberg off, I shall list only a few of them
  • Facebook is the only way my relatives constantly keep track of my activities. So I can’t use words like ‘Love’, ‘Engaged’, ‘Single’ and ‘Committed’. Using these words is a strict no-no for them and is a sign that I am turning to a spoilt brat!!
  • My niece’s are also in FB. Come on, they are still kids for god’s sake!!
  • FB increases the expectations that you have from your friends and peers. I am expected to hit ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ to every photo or status message uploaded/put up by dear friends/relatives even if I don’t like them
  • FB is also a place where my messages and comments are misconstrued and where I also sometimes end up misunderstanding other’s comments
  • I have to constantly filter out people from my friend’s list and put them in the ‘Custom’ category under the default privacy option
  • Wherever I go, FB follows (Geo tagging and tracking)
  • When I log in, FB almost inevitably shows me status messages from people I want to ignore or forget (Does Mark Zuckerberg hold a grudge on me?)
  • And what the hell!! Do I care about how many points X has scored over Y in a game Z? Naah!!
  • The ‘timeline’ feature initially seemed very sugary but now has become so bitter that I feel like having a little honey

And the list goes on. Is there a cure to Facebook addiction? I don’t think so. In my case, it has reached a critical mass (Read 650+ friends, half of whom I barely know!!). I desperately want to get rid of it but can’t understand how to. Can you help me? Of course, I know where there is a will there is a way out as well. But the addiction has reached to levels where I now have a widget of it on my android phone. So I urge you readers to suggest some practical solutions so that I get de-addicted without having to delete my account for good.  

One of my colleagues doesn’t have a Facebook account. In fact, he doesn’t have any account in any social networking site at all. I was initially shocked. But later I realised that probably it was one of the best decisions he had made in life – Not to have any presence in the virtual world. This blog post is dedicated to him; a guy I want to be like, content and very happy like the people from Bhutan!! J

signing off,

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dialogue in the Dark

Hi folks,

It was in August last year that I came home for a few days after spending a roller coaster three months in Mumbai, Allahabad, Surat and Lucknow. And one of my dear friends here proposed that we spend a day at one of the biggest malls in Hyderabad. It was a great day, with clear blue skies and everything happened as per the plan. We met at the Malakpet MMTS station and had a great time travelling in it all the way to Hi Tech city. After picking up another of our friends at Shilparamam, we finally reached Inorbit Mall. 

We were six of us, but no one had any idea as to what 'Dialogue in the Dark' was all about. All we knew was that it was a theme restaurant where every activity is done in a pitch dark environment without a single ray of light. And when I say pitch dark, I mean it literally because no illuminating instrument of any sort was used - ZERO LIGHT. Essentially it meant that we would be experiencing what it felt to be completely blind for 45 long minutes. We were not supposed to carry anything except for some cash and so promptly submitted all cellphones, purses and wallets at the reception counter before entering the darkest tunnel we have ever known. Everyone was excited and looking forward to experience what later turned out to be a completely enlightening moment for me. 

We entered inside and soon realised that we will have to fully rely on our remaining 4 senses or otherwise give up walking through the scariest path one could walk through. The guide was a bright, confident guy of my age and guided us through a Kitchen, a bedroom, a bathroom, a garden and then finally to a theatre hall where we were asked to identify voices of prominent personalities. And all this while, we felt and knew what we were walking through. We smelt soap and spices, felt pillows, bed sheets and towels. But more importantly we actually felt what it is to be blind, something that was increasingly becoming a difficult proposition with some of my friends stumbling here and there and hurting themselves in the process. But all this while, there was only one question that was bothering me. How were the guide's trained to maneuver in an environment where there was literally no light? The guide was effortlessly guiding us through the innumerable obstacles in a very curvy path interlaced with what we felt were speed breakers!! 

And when we completed all the activities and were finally led to a cafe cum restaurant, I couldn't resist asking this to the guide himself.

'How much time did you take to get trained to operate in zero light conditions? A month?', I made a wild guess.

'A month?? No, sir. We merely took about 30 hours', he replied in a rather nonchalant manner.

I was taken aback. My guess wasn't even remotely close to what he said. But I was sure I was missing something all this while. 

'But how could that be? The path that we walked on is so mind boggling. How did you....', I stopped midway unable to complete the sentence, searching for appropriate words to express my disbelief.

'Sir, I am partly....I guess, about 60% blind. In fact all my colleagues working inside 'DID' are blind to various degrees of extent. The guy who served you Coke, Chips and also correctly gave you the balance amount now is the only guy who is completely blind'

All of us fell silent on hearing this. It was an eerie silence that was making us very uncomfortable. I could in the darkness of it all, feel that each and everyone of us was pondering as to how these blind guys here were adept at doing something that we normal people were struggling to in the first place. 

To lighten up things a bit, I finally broke the silence and complimented the guides there for doing such a wonderful job. Most of them were youngsters from the Old City, but chose to be independent despite being physically handicapped. And, mind you they were the best in what they did. What impressed me most about this group of 4-5 youngsters was that they were silently guiding visitors through the path less traveled - A path where there is no LIGHT but still could be walked on, only because you are being guided by someone who knows exactly what it feels to be in the DARK forever. And that is precisely the reason, that these guides here are diligent and focused because they know 'Where there is a WILL, there is a WAY'; doesn't matter whether that WAY is illuminated or not!!

And when we finally came out of the tunnel, it felt so good to see things the way they are. And that is when I realised that we (gifted with the ability to see things) often complicate LIFE and so fail to see things the way they are. We complicate all things, relationships, emotions and thoughts and in the process hurt everyone involved. But then LIFE is all about perceptions and stereotypes, isn't it? And, I guess that's what complicates it. So if you are the one who thinks your way of life couldn't have been more complex, then I suggest you come to Hyderabad and visit 'Dialogue in the Dark'. The 45 minutes spent here will change the way you look at things or at least keep reminding you that you are still any day better off than the Blind guides working here the hard way to lead a dignified way of life!!

signing off,
'A grateful fool'

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

WIMWI's rendezvous with February!!

Hi folks,

    It was exactly an year ago that I remember saying to myself 'Now or Never'. My roller coaster ride at WIMWI was coming to a close and one could sense the seriousness in the air within the campus. Yes, it was the month of placements; something where you literally witness what 'Cut throat competition' actually is. Some of your peers start playing games, you would never have imagined of. And the one who comes out of this melee, unscathed becomes the true survivor of the ultimate 20 month battle that students every year face in WIMWI. 

Anyways, now that I have recently been to the campus as an 'Alumni', I recall those days with mixed emotions - Happy to have passed out successfully with honour and at the same time not happy with how certain things went about with some of my peers who were completely devastated after the end of the placement process. I could never rejoice my success for the fear of upsetting those pals who couldn't perform to their potential. And the reason I express all this is because I am sure some of my other friends would have also felt the same way as I am feeling right now. I make no bones about the fact that I somehow managed to face so much pressure on the D-Day all by myself. And so is also the case with many of my other batch-mates as well. It's very simple. If you can't manage the stress, you will fail. I don't claim to be someone who can guide you on how to approach the placements rationally. Refer to my good friend's (she happens to be my batch-mate as well) post here if you want a step-by-step practical guide to placements .

But I sure can share some tips on how to beat the stress and stay calm on the D-Day; something that I personally found out to be very effective. Disclaimer: This is certainly not a definitive list and the intention is to only share what I did with you.

  • Stay away from gossip mongers - It is not very difficult. Be clear on what you want from the placements and stay true to yourself. Don't let all the talk about pay packages influence your decision. 
  • Relax a day before the D-Day - Watch movies you like, listen to songs or go and read up newspapers in the library. But don't hold a book in your hand the day before!!
  • Know the firm well - Make a list of firms you want to apply and start surfing about them on the net. Know well about the firm before making the most important decision of your life. 
  • Know yourself - "God has made each one of us as a first class individual, don't end up as a second class copy of someone else" - Anand Pillai (Chief Learning Officer @ one of India's largest conglomerate). Learn to differentiate yourself from the crowd 
  • Don't take calls on the D-Day - Switch off your 'dear' cell phone and give it some rest as well!!
  • Group Discussions - Be yourself in a group discussion. Being aggressive and vocal, just for the heck of it never helps!!
  • Smile when you greet the Recruiter - Remember, the recruiter is as tensed as you are. It is just that he knows how to camouflage his expressions better than you
  • Don't be harsh on yourself - A missed opportunity might be a door to something better!!
  • Rejoice and celebrate the day when you achieve what you set out to do in the first place
  • And finally - Do help out your fellow batch-mates in getting placed. Believe me, the thrill and joy you experience when you actually see your friends getting placed can't be described in simple words. You just have to experience it!!
February is a crucial month for all WIMWIANs. But we often tend to make it more difficult for ourselves. Moreover, the kind of expectations your parents, friends, relatives and the people around you have; it becomes that much more difficult. The key is to switch off the thought process on the D-Day and take every moment as it comes. 

I know all this is easier said than done. But well, the blogger has also experienced what you are going to. To summarize, follow this mantra - 'Be yourself before the recruiter'. You start acting extra smart and things will definitely not go your way. Eventually, it is the time you spend with the recruiter that will matter the most - Nothing else!! Wishing all the fachchas the very best :)

Signing off,
A proud WIMWI alumni :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

of Passports, Chaos and Choices!!

Hii folks,

     I come from a city where every second boy is forced to become an Engineer. I am one of those engineers who is expected to make it big in the United States of America. Forget our country where unless I complete my Master's, I will not be able to make it big in life. The problem is that I am from a social background where my so called 'relatives' wouldn't consider me fit enough to be labelled as 'Successful', if I don't clear GRE or TOEFL and fly to the US of A!! 

    So here I was standing in a queue beside the Regional Passport Office - Secunderabad at 4.30 am. By then there were already thirty odd people in front of me eagerly waiting to resolve their passport related issues and get their damn passport as early as possible. One of them wanted to go to Dubai where he was promised a very good 'package'; big enough for someone who only knows how to build walls. The other was facing problems in getting her passport renewed just because she didn't have a 'marriage certificate'. 'How am I supposed to get this marriage certificate now?', I heard her complain to her husband on the phone. My guess was they were married for more than 20 years now. And even as the Sun's first rays broke out, the queue was swelling exponentially. 

   Today was an unusually cold day and my fingers were already numb. I was finding it tough to type up 'Love you' and 'Missing you' messages to my girlfriend. Yes, I am supposed to have a girlfriend as well, just like many guys of my age have these days. She woke up rather early today; just to keep me motivated. Standing in a queue for more than an hour can be tiring especially when you don't know whether you will be able to accomplish the task or not. It was very sweet of her to have chatted with me till I bid her bye and wished her luck for the lab practical exam she had. She is my junior and I would like to believe that our love story is going great guns. You never know though!! Anyways thanks to her, I somehow managed to stay calm throughout. 

Finally, by the time the Police constable there signaled the gate-keeper to let us inside the passport office complex, there were more than 300 people in the line. And along with the agents who roamed like Vultures waiting to pick up their prey (read gullible people coming from the rural hinterlands of AP), the people in the queue made a perfect setting for Chaos and Mayhem to kick in. As we started moving in slowly, I thought this to be the end of everything horrible I had imagined a moment before. The queue was moving smoothly and we entered inside the complex where there were seats arranged. We settled on the seats and there was a momentary pause of complete silence. Just then, a haughty lady arrived and asked us to get up and move towards the entrance to the 'Enquiry counters'. Was it a trigger? I don't know but the queue suddenly broke up and people started running towards the hallway to the counters. It was a stampede like situation and I didn't lose a moment to realise that I had to run to escape the unruly crowd's wrath. 

There was hardly anyone to control the mob and people started hitting each other; hurling abuses at will to hold on to their positions in the new queue that emerged in front of the entrance to the 'Enquiry Counters'. I was shocked beyond belief. Was I waiting in the queue for more than 5 hours now just to feel like shit amidst an unruly and uncivilized group of people? Half of them were as educated as you and me are. Leave the Visa, I then realised that earning a passport itself wasn't going to be easy as it seemed a few days back. 

I am proud of this city; a city where I spent the decisive moments of my life. But would I like to spend the rest of my life in a city where Corruption and Lawlessness have become the norm? I have my doubts. Anyways, thankfully the next one hour that I spent there was not difficult though. After I got my token, I sat beside a guy who held a black leather file with the title 'Indian Institute of Management - Ahmedabad' on it. I immediately felt a strong urge to talk to this guy and find out why he chose to stay rather than search for greener pastures in USA, UK or Australia. And after the usual intro-talk, when I did finally ask him the question lingering on my mind, his reply was in jest. 

'Dude, I liked the movie 'Swades' so much that I chose to do an MBA from the toughest B-School to get into rather than do what you are yearning to do now'. He laughed like a half-dead motor, then looked at me seriously and said,' I had no choice buddy. I was brought up amidst jet-fighters and guns. I was brought up in an environment where 'Nation' as a concept was given the utmost priority. So even the thought of going to 'Uncle Sam's' country was not an option for me. Yes, I still have to answer questions like 'Why didn't you go to the US of A? You could have earned so much more there!!' But I always had a choice and so do you. It is up to you as to what choice you make.'

I had never seen a guy so expressive. It was rather the question I asked him that seemed to have struck his emotional chords. But he never imposed his views on me, which I thought was very prudent of him. We then had a rather lengthy discussion on why things are so wrong in this whole messed up system of issuing passports. Thanks to this particular MBA guy, I suddenly felt so much more important and enlightened. More so because I also had my chances to share some interesting snippets and insights about Hyderabad, with a guy who I thought asked a lot of questions given his qualifications.

By the time I was finished, the clock was ticking half past eleven. I had now spent 420 minutes in what I would like to call as the 'Mess-hole of Andhra Pradesh'. If you want to experience mayhem and see how the face of corruption looks like - Visit RPO Secunderabad. If you want to see frustrated faces all around - Stand in front of RPO Secunderabad. And what more!! If you want to get robbed in broad daylight, it is again the best place for the same. Yes, there are pickpocket's lurking around as well!!

I have made my choice. Once I get my Visa stamped, I will think twice before returning back to India again. That MBA graduate did say one thing correctly - 'Listen to what your heart says and stick to the decision you make. Life is all about making choices. There is no such thing as a 'Right choice' and a 'Wrong choice'. It is when you are not true to yourself that your choice ends up as a 'Wrong choice'!!

Signing off,
An Engineer