Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Life Of Deepti..

For those of you who don’t know. I took up a new job recently. I am now the communications manager for SCORE Foundation in Delhi. It’s a great place to work and I’m deliriously happy to be going to office at 10 in the morning as opposed to the ungodly hour of 8:30 that I did in my previous job. But that aside, as I was sitting in office yesterday, reminiscing how I got to be there exactly, I remembered the day I had gone for my interview at SCORE. What came to mind were rather funny (If you are sadistic kinds who derive pleasure out of torturing others) events that made up the day. So although I had wanted to write a profound and moving account of my time so far at SCORE, what I’m writing instead is my account of that day.

I had seen the Life of Pi a couple of weeks before that day with the most mad bunch of people I've had the good fortune of meeting (yes guys C2: GDS rocked! I miss you already) and while I was watching the movie I thought to myself, my life is never going to be this interesting.... Well that was a couple of weeks ago and well today it just got a lot more interesting, and I don't mean interesting in a good way.

So as most of you may already have heard or experienced the traffic in Delhi is a bitch, well today.... today it went to a whole new level of hell. Thanks to the protests around Delhi against the rape of a 23 year old recently, coupled with the shutting down of 9 metro stations around central Delhi and the rerouting of traffic away from Connaught Place (the center of Delhi, and maybe even the world if you ask me), and if this wasn't enough the Kalindi Kunj bridge was closed for renovation. At one point I actually thought the best way to get to Noida was to parachute down from a chartered helicopter. For a while there it actually seemed impossible!

I started the day after 3 and a half hours of sleep, and still managed to get out of the house in time for a job interview slated at 11:00 am, which knowing me is in itself a great feat. However apparently god did not see it that way. After being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic for the better (or in this case worse) part of 1 and a half hour, I finally arrived for my interview at a location no more than 20 minutes away from my home, 40 minutes late. What I failed to recognize at the time was the fact that it was all downhill from there.

Leaving the interview location at 3, I brilliantly deduced that I could skip the traffic jam by taking a somewhat lengthy detour through Jamia to Kalindi Kunj. Yes I’m the only idiot in Delhi who did not know that Kalindi was shut down. After 3 hours of cursing, crying and flapping my arms around in outrage I finally reached home. Only to start back the way I had come, this time with my dog in tow. My 12 year old Dalmatian needs to go to the vet twice weekly and of course he had to go today! I mean when god gets it in for you.. he goes the whole 9 freaking yards! 

This meant spending a total of another 2 and a half hour in traffic. What was different this time around though was that I did not spend the time shouting profanities at innocent passers-by, breaking down in fits of hysteria or flapping around like a chicken. This time around I spent the time conversing. I had a rather deep conversation about life with Jimmy, my dog. And it was then that I remembered Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger from Life of Pi. I realized what I hadn’t during the movie. That companionship really is important. Isolation turns into people we ourselves would hate.

And on the heels of that epiphany came another thought. I and Pi Patel weren’t all that different. No hear me out. He was stuck alone at sea with no one but a ferocious tiger for company, while I was stuck in a sea of cars, where although there was half the population of Delhi surrounding me, we might as well have been a million miles away. I was still alone in a little Alto with no one but a dog for company (and yes he is ferocious. Ask all the people he has bitten over the years!)

And well I thought back to what I had said to myself in the theatre so long ago in December. My life had just turned as interesting as Pi Patel’s (well maybe not interesting enough to write a book or make a movie or anything, but atleast interesting enough to write a blogpost!), and to that effect I said, Pi Patel eat your heart out! :P

Thursday, 7 February 2013

For the Love of Dog!

When I started this blog, I was stuck on an appropriate blog description for quite some time. Finally after about 2 months it dawned on me, this blog is about telling stories. Stories about people, about situations, about… well me mostly, but that’s hardly the point!
So today I decided to tell someone else’s story. Today I read an article in the Times of India Delhi edition. On page 6 squeezed in a corner poking out innocuously was an article titled:  Leopard rescued. Sounds pretty anti-climactic for the way I built it up doesn’t it? Well as I read the headline that exactly what I thought, Big Deal. Upon closer inspection however a name popped out at me, Dr. Prabhakaran and my jaw dropped. So this particular post features someone I truly admire. Someone I’ve known for the past 4 years, and who has more integrity and guts than most anybody I know, Dr. Prabhakaran.

I have an 12 year old Dalmatian, and for the past 4 years or so we have been taking him to Friendicos SECA near Defence Colony flyover, an animal hospital cum shelter, where Dr. Prabhakaran works along with his amazing team. The team at Friendicos workd tirelessly to rescue and house stray dogs, cats, moneys, pigeons and from what I saw today piglets. During my dog’s 3 surgeries and almost daily checkups that followed each time, i can safely say I have spent A LOT of time at Friendicos over the past 4 years. I’ve seen Dr. Prabhakaran come in at 8:30 in the morning and leave at almost the same time each night. The staff is a different story altogether, from long gruelling days spent trying to calm and treat frightened animals, to many a rabies shots after animal bites and night shifts, not to mention the ambulance service, these people are the real supermen and women of Delhi.
I developed a love for all 4 legged creatures young. My sister is an animal rights fanatic (no there really isent another word for it) and living with her definitely turned me into an animal lover if not fanatic. She was known as the dog lady at Tata institute of Social Sciences from where she did her MSW and her chronicles of animal rescue spread far and wide (I have a bedroom wall dedicated to all the animals she rescued and trust me the wall is full. So when we started taking our beloved Jimmy to Friendicos both of us instantly gravitated towards the staff and myriads of stays there. We spent countless afternoons playing with pubs, dogs, cats and such and even more fretting over some or the other particularly bad accident case that was being treated there.
Through it all I rember seeing Dr. Prabhakaran. Calm, dignified and running. Constantly running from the OT to the OPD to the Shelter. He seemed tireless, the passion he has for animals is unmatched. I lived in a house full of animal activists and I had never seen anyone with his kind of passion and dedication for the cause. Where we screamed at people on the roads, in our compound, in our school/college campuses for showing cruelty to animals and lamented about it to no avail, he said nothing. He silently treated all those animals who were victims to the wrath of man. He patched them up and gave them a better life.
The kind of dedication these people have towards the animals at the shelter is amazing. Last year tragedy struck. A bunch of drunken idiots lost control of their car and crashed over the side of the flyover onto the Friendicos Shelter below. The metal cages broke and the cars fall and none of them were seriously hurt, however Friendicos lost many precious things that day. One innocent little pup lost his life, many other sustained several severe and minor injuries, and the shelter incurred damages amounting up to 20+ Lakhs. The boys got off without paying any damages and apart from another little article that time in Hindustan Times, the incident went off unnoticed. What Friendicos suffered however cannot go unnoticed. Several benefactors flocked in to show support in forms of strong words and quietly drawn cheques, however despite everyone’s best efforts all the damages were not covered.
Despite all this, the men and women of Friendicos, my unsung heroes, Dr. Prabharan, Uma, Karan, Nagendra, Deepak, Ram, and the entire staff of Friendicos, got up dusted themselves off and continued fighting for a cause they have believed in for the past 31 years.
I’m proud to say that I am associated with Friendicos in my own little way and although I am attached to several NGOs, this is one, has its own special place in my heart. 
P.S. I wrote this post yesterday Feb 6th and today morning there is another article about the rescued leopard in Times of India on page 3, and this time thankfully the story is much bigger! 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

A Series of Fortunate Accidents

The Law of Averages
It was another one of those lazy afternoons. The ones hen I have nothing to do in life but stalk people randomly on FB as they appear on my wall. Just for the record, in the words of the author “I’m not lazy, I just have a high inertia of rest.”  This particular day was different. I was going through my inbox deleting messages of the “Do you want to do Fraaaandship with me?” variety when I saw a message by one Mr. Kshitish Padhy. Apparently Mr. Padhy had read a review of a book I had previously done on this blog and he was wondering if I would be interested in reviewing his book: Law of Averages.
I read and re-read the message about 3 times. Then I jumped up and did an impromptu jig in sheer happiness. Let alone the fact that someone who I didn’t have to arm twist into reading my blog -read friends and family- had actually read my blog, but now I was getting requests to review stuff. See since I myself am a PR professional and used to sweet talk bloggers to review stuff for my own clients, not all that long ago, the feeling of being on the other side of the scales was just.. so Boss! I haven’t really been blogging all that long, and the only other review I did was purely due to my love of reading. In my mind I kept chanting Oh how the petty have risen!
Since I’m a bookworm and have been known to blow huge chunks of my salary on books in the past, I try to steer clear of books now-a-days, considering I am unemployed. But I just can’t resist the smell of a new book and the sound of crisp pages turning, so like an addict craving her fix I often still blow money from my rainy-day stash on books.
So when Mr. Padhy offered to send across a copy of his book for my reading pleasure (ok for me to review) I was delirious with happiness. Getting to read a book without increasing the size of the already crater sized hole in my pocket- Christmas came early this year! (or considering the timing of the request.. just in time).Having said all that, this is supposed to be a review, so here goes nothing.

After waiting for ages (read 2 weeks) for my copy of Law of Averages to arrive, I was pleasantly surprised with the first look of the book. Since Kshitish is in the comic business, I wasn’t really surprised with the great cover art. What I did find intriguing was the name. Law of Averages, weird name for a love story wouldn’t you say?
To that I say read the Preface. Kshitish mentions, “The Law of Averages is bound to catch up with you and you are bound to win big time at least once in your life” and well in his mind this applies to love as well. So well when you think about it, in a round-about way, the name of the book is actually pretty ingenious. It doesn’t outright mention love, but when you finally make the connection; it certainly gives you this nice gooey feeling inside. Although I’d like to mention here that the preface is actually much better, than the actual sequence it has been lifted from, but that’s just my point of view.

The book is hilarious and filled with adventure, just as the back cover promises, however it is a little too filmy for my taste. At one point the protagonist takes a bullet for his prospective father-in-law whom he’s trying to impress (oh no that was the whole plot of the book right there) while battling terrorists on their quest for lost treasure. Like I said a little to Bollywood-y for my taste, but then I guess that’s to expect when a man writes a love story. It has more to do with a great adventure than the actual love story.

I believe when women write romance it deals entirely too much with the emotional turmoil. There is almost always a villain and it’s a lot of mind games. So in that respect Law of Averages is a really refreshing read. The story line is as interesting as the name. And well at the end of the day, no matter how filmy, I like the idea of a treasure hunt to win the love of your life.  

Talking about the characters, I think this is one aspect Kshitish has got bang on. Ritwik, a lowly comic scriptwriter with a very high inertia of rest, is just the right mix of sweet and macho. Shubhangi, his lady love, is not a drama queen... well not a really big one anyway, and dictator, the prospective father-in-law is not over the top. When I read the nickname, I had this premonition of a totally over the top old man who is as eccentric as he is strict, but Kshitish managed to do a good job with all the characters.

As for the negatives, I thought the book started out a little stiff, it was entirely too formal and a little uncomfortable to read, with me, this has always been a bone of contention, when it comes to Indian authors. However by about the fifth chapter the problem sort of resolves itself and the book becomes easier to read. I guess beginnings are always hard. Also the book has too much technical jargon from the comic book industry for my taste, between issues, series and titles I was lost!

All in all however it’s a good read, considering that it’s the authors first book, I’d say it was great. By the end all I wanted to say was Ritwik.. Leave her.. leave Shubhangi immediately and marry me! You seriously don't find men like this anymore!