Health is everything, everything else is well everything else

Guess I don’t need to write a post for this topic, but anyways, will still go ahead with the obvious…

In technology they say you are working on leading or bleeding edge, i’ve always been on the bleeding, because it’s the thrill that comes with uncertainty – I never bargained for same in life though? or maybe god just said “Bless you ‘puttar’ sab ismein bleeding edge pe hi raho” [ be on the bleeding edge in everything]..

I’ve been in a vaccum when it comes to health, always believed I was almost invincible – can eat everything, can do everything – don’t feel like mid 30 at all . I remember distinctly getting into a discussion/argument with a friend who recently visited from India – she happened to be a health conscious person, polar opposite to my thinking of leading life. Her words bottomlined on “you don’t know what you eat, you better pay attention”. That time I was like, sure I will (and in my head it sounded like, yeah whatever).

And then it hit – real hard . A week+ back, as I flew back from training from west coast, daring the 5 hour travel with intense pain in back and arm, straight to ER – “I am not sure what pain I’ve in my arm and back, I can’t take this anymore”. The doc had a face of concern, quite contrary to my assessment of my pain (ah well I need some meds, that’s it). Then comes CT scan, and I am still not sure, CT scan for what? And once I get back he quietly says, hey don’t worry it will get better give it 4-6 weeks. Make sure you are careful from here on. “Did I hear that right”? 4-6 weeks, what the…..came home with the pain meds, to read through the details and of course google! Suddenly now it’s reality – hey you are 36 but your work or your phone or your posture or everything else makes your neck like a 56 yr old!!! Had the c6 raducolpathy!  If you didn’t know what that is, it’s better you never hear of that. All I can say is, next time you’ve a neck pain – just don’t say, oh it’s just neck pain! take some anti-inflammatory!

SO yeah, recovering one day at a time, there are good days, some really bad nights of spasms in arm which scares you to core (spasms apparently not a good sign)….

And now the birthday – some might say well bad timing. As i go through the wishes of friends here, back home, well wishers, family – this couldn’t be better timing. Sometimes you need all the positive energy to keep your chin up especially when your view of invincibility seems opaque now!  I made sure I got in touch with the health nerd friend and told her, maybe you are at the right place – i’ll get there for sure, the path might be a touch different, but health is all that is – everything else take a back seat

On this day, when everyone has made my day, I wish each and every single one, a healthy year and life! Let’s live each day fully, as you sometimes just don’t know — so cheers to that and some more wine please;)

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A lasting impact

the title seems a bit cliche, but isn’t that appropriate in the wake of the school shootings? well nothing comes close to describing the impact, but it sure is there to last!

I was walking past one of the monitors in our lobby at IMF only to notice around 8 people gathered near the television sets. It was unusual to say the least as we walk past everyday more interested in what’s for menu during lunch hour. So I paused, told my friend, hey let’s check it out. With IMF you expect the new MD speech or Apple stock news gaining traction, however it was different this time. There was an errie gasp as I approached the set with people shaking their heads as they walked past. I just paid attention to bottomline – shooting reported in a school. I just had the first reaction – when will these jerks stop and I walked away. I went to my desk to have a missed call from my friend. Well we don’t call, we just message as friends, so I called him back, and he goes, dude, these suckers killed those kids! and I said, KIDS? then it all started making sense. I hung up to pull up CNN and my heart dropped, stopped, paused!!!

Being a parent now, I wonder if it makes you weak, or maybe being weak is what we are supposed to feel as human beings on hearing such things. As the President later said, “we as parents…….”, yup, the little guy in your house, is the first one you think of. It’s selfish in a way, but we are “humane” too! I called my wife, told her how I missed the boys even at work today! I couldn’t wait to see them. I’ve never felt this desparte to see my kids, which we see them everyday, but this was different. This incident hit right deep within.

As a day passed, the feeling changed from selfish to compassion towards those parents, what those guys must be feeling, it’s just hard to fathom! what did they do? what do they do now? they dropped their kids the morning and must’ve been planning something great for the day, year, ages…..all taken away by senseless act. I cannot stop reading about those kids, can’t stop thinking about those parents.

This will stick with me forever! I’ll pray for the parents and the kids every single day and may God take care of the innocent….if the gun culture doesn’t change even now, there is no hope. We are looking up to you Mr President! It’s time to act…

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The curious case of Tendulkar!

So, well, isn’t this polarizing? Talking about Tendulkar! There seems to be radical views on both sides, and everyone has always gotten me confused of being radical. Criticizing is not being radical. Radical means being on one side without merit.

Let’s take it a step back, waay waay back, around 1990’s. Tendulkar grabbed attention for being the 16 yr old making debut. You could say watching him at that point, I was in complete awe. Well because the phenom was deserving awesome, at 16 this guy was facing the best attacks. For me it didn’t matter if he scored or not, for me being a part of the biggest stage, representing the country was good enough. Clearly you could see there was talent, and what I would say “flair”. He could play the same shots but the elegance and panache that wasn’t seen. He did not open the batting in one day internationals then!

Then came in the new zealand tour, which basically you could call made me “radically for” the guy. I remember getting up 3am watching games with my dad. He wasn’t scoring centuries every game. But what was worth watching was the freedom and the desire to dominate and win. There was a team first guy, ready to bowl, throw himself around, ready to win!! It was hard to be not a fan, and so were the millions and billions. I can guarantee, at that point, you could not find a single person on the other side of the fence at that stage.  Think again, if there was no one on the other side then, why are there now?  hold that thought…….

Then came the famous “Tenulkar at 25”. I wonder if you ever saw the documentary? He was now transformed into a more authoritative team-mate, even mature to keep converting 50s into 100s. It was the time, I switched off the TV once he got out ( i am sure you did that too, do you do that now? You don’t).  He made the day more often than not.

Fast forward a few years, now there is a distinct difference in his batting, his demeanor, his methods. He becomes defensive, you could sense him being tentative once he starts getting closer to 50s/100s/200s. His demeanor on the field become more distant. The more pressure was built, the easier he started to wilt. He started giving hope and disappointing. By then, losing started meaning more than individuals to me. Maybe because I started playing team sports and for me loss meant a loss. I could care less about him or any other to make a 100 if it meant at the end of the day you lose. when you make a 100, you make it count!!! when you consume 150 deliveries, you make it count. You make sure you put the team in a position to WIN. There was another phemon at the same time, Brian Lara, a left handed stylish destroyer ala Viv Richards.

Brian Lara came and went, well, after a few thousands of runs, but one distinct difference was, if he stayed at the crease,  you knew you were going to be chasing the ball to the end. He wasn’t going to change his batting. On the other end of the spectrum, you had Tendulkar, accumulating runs after runs but when it was the time to play on a bigger stage, you could pretty much say, yeah, he isn’t going to score. 250+ chasing against a good opposition meant, good bye good night!

We as Indians are the least objective. We believe in treating people as god! And can you really be objective towards God? So there were two sections – people who treated him as GOD, for them it didn’t matter even if he kept failing, and people who just hated him as for them if he doesn’t score a 100, he is a failure. If you think about it, both aren’t objective. People confuse my views with the latter one not realizing or knowing or understanding what objectivity meant.

You would never see me criticize a 100 if that means a WIN! NEVER NEVER EVER! For me, it’s more important to see a desire to win, to be a team guy. I don’t see that in him anymore. It isn’t a coincidence, his strike rate drops down drastically towards milestones (statistically correct, lookup the australia tour for an example). For me, that can only mean one of the two things – you are under pressure or you are worried about the milestone. I never said he doesn’t have talent (at least in last 10 years), people quote me from 1990, well, in 1990 I also didn’t talk to girls 🙂

I don’t believe people realize my posts during his innings when chasing 334 or something against Australia only for our other batsman to mess it up. That was one innings, when it “felt” like the Tendulkar of the old, he kept hitting it all over even when he was closing in on 100. We lost the game, but I was the first one to applaud that innings.

Contrast that to the 100th 100 few days back. India is facing Bangladesh. India has the worst bowling attack in the world. Small grounds mean if you bat first, you better make it big. As a pure batsman, with wickets in hand, you should be throwing cautions to the wind. Not our genius. He himself accepted he was bothered by the milestone, kept on “accumulating” runs. Scoring 114 in 144 odd deliveries. You know what that means? 114 in close to 25 overs? If that isn’t acceptable as a team against Bangladesh, how do you justify that for an individuals. Boggles me people don’t understand we should have at least scored 325 that day.  As I said, there is no objectivity.

There is always a time to reflect and cheer sheer number of runs. But in last 10 years, think about how many of those runs meant wins for India? how many match winning innings were there? When was the last time you saw all hopes lost and him taking us out of the rubble.  What I hate is there isn’t the same yardstick for everyone. That’s being typical Indian! I remember one of my post:

“It took 1+ year, 3+ series, 2+ debacles, 20 odd innings, friendly batting conditions, small ground, weak opposition, weaker bowling, ignorant fan base, eunuch selectors, snail like batting, putting the total in jeopardy and a team win – to achieve a personal milestone, and fans are still applauding, wow Mr Tendulkar, at least now can you hang your boots please!”

Statistically, is there anything wrong? And realistically, could any other batsman have survived without being dropped? Unfortunately, even the selectors are “scared” to drop him.

If he is such a genius, if he is such a talented batsman and if he is a match winner, please remind me of the last winning contribution to a test match please? How many years do I need to go back?

It’s time BBCI has a ceremony for his achievements, gives him a medal and says, thank you Sir! Let’s give chance to the future.

At the end of the day, you’ve to always ask this question – if you had to chase 300 against a good bowling attack, and you had an option to pick 1 player, who could you pick? Sachin / Lara / Sehwag / Viv Richards?

Who gives you the best chance to win? Shouldn’t the best player in the world give you that?

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Where’s the gamesmanship, Captain!

If you’ve no idea what cricket is, well, maybe it’s a good time to skip this one!:)

Every now and then, in sports, you see these highly anticipated showdowns which on the game day turn out to be real dampers! I was really looking forward to a Tebow (god’s child) vs Tom Brady (god when it comes to football) matchup this weekend. Turns out the god in reality was just too much for the kid (Tebow). The final storyline of 45-10 only reflects the disparity in the quality of quarterback play but it did damper the evening as it was a one-sided affair. However, if you look at the talent on paper, there was a genuine mismatch on the field of play. Tebow should be given benefit of doubt as well, everyone knows he can never elevate his game to the level of Brady! To some level, I can live with that…..

However, what I can or will never be able to accept is, lack of will when it comes to game time. If you have even followed Indian Test Cricket recently, that’s what stands out and hurts you as a ardent cricket fan. I’ve played the game myself, and captained a team, and I fail to understand how a talented team can go so, I mean, so wrong! When I played the game, for me failure of team meant, MY failure as a captain. No one else was to blame. However, I took every defeat, didn’t matter the margin, personally and vowed I would do everything in my capacity to fix what was wrong or make sure I put the team in a position to win! Here is an example…

It was I believe close to a bit chiller times (60 F in Nagpur is chilly:)), we were organizing the yearly “Cric Mania” event. GS college was as usual the favored team to win, they had the best talent I had seen in my 4 years at college, no wonder 8 of those ended up playing for Vidarbha at some point. Bottomline, the most talented team. The tournament was well revered and was a big deal to win in this one apart from the university tournaments played later on in the year.

At the start of that year, I remember distinctly, when I was appointed the captain, not by vote, but by reputation(:)), even though I had failed miserably in my previous year. I mean miserably equals (0,0,5,23,54,16) as my last scores. I agree, I didn’t deserve, but then it was a case of who else was more deserving. No one else was, so, it was I guess an easy choice for the administrators to put me in charge. When our boss called me to hand over the keys for the store room where we had all our equipment, I distinctly remember him saying “Paha kahi karta yeil ka” == Try what you can with this team. He basically meant, he didn’t expect us to win at all. Well, agreed on some level, we had lost the most talented guy I played with Ambarish Desai as he graduated, and along with him 8 seniors. Basically, the new team only had 5 regulars and others, bunch of well, triers!

That statement though, HURT! I mean, I get it, we don’t have talent, doesn’t mean we can’t compete? My thought process as a captain is like a complete spectrum end of a thought process as a player. Agreed, not ideal, but let’s say it is what it is. Being the most important part is motivation personified for me. I took that bait, and off went on the captain hat. My everyday routines for practices were unorthodox to the limit. I wasn’t a disciplinarian when it came to fitness, my message to my teammates was simple, you are old enough to understand to work on fitness. Do as you please. I just don’t need an excuse during game time. The net sessions were executed like none other, instructions like – you’ve a bat in hand, but you cannot hit the ball (practice leaving the ball), I would give a batsman a field placing and then say – you are supposed to score 13 runs in this over. If you don’t the next guy comes in and bats. For me, mundane net sessions didn’t allow people to think. I tried to simulate game time as much as possible during net sessions. My biggest emphasis was always fielding though. I believed, that is one thing you do not have a dependency – as a batsman you might get out with a good ball, as a bowler you can be hit by a good batsman, when it comes to fielding, you’ve no excuse! People have accused me of putting too much pressure on fielders. My explanation is simple, if you cannot handle this pressure, you don’t deserve to be in! I was just fortunate, that over the few months, I had a team with great character, will to fight to the last, more will over talent. Shyam Deshpande (will), Sumit Pathak (brains), Ketan Kaore (skill), Sandeep Kopulwar (nack of fields), Atul Ballal (deputy) …..everyone had developed their own mantra for success.

Back to cric mania, well, we ended up being in semi-finals against GS. Being hammered would be putting it mildly. We were hit all over the park, it was boys against men! 312 in 40 overs. The match pretty much ended right there. We tried our best, were bowled out for 180. Now that to me, hurt. Since I was the organizer as well, put on a brave face, eventually they won the tournament, congratulated them etc etc. But inside, I could never forget it. I had decided, I needed a revenge, I knew we didn’t match on paper. But were were smarter when it came to brains! Let’s use what we got!

For the next 2 months, I scouted pretty much every game these guys played making notes of what every players likes to do, how he gets out, how he scores runs. All mental notes. We didn’t even have the kind of softwares these people run these days. I came back, in practices, I would simulate a specific batsman or a bowler and try to see if I could come up with a plan.

Then game the big game, again. It was the quarter finals for the university tournament. We batted first, did decent 169 in 40 overs. Everyone thought, well game over. Not me. I had a weird confidence, I knew how each batsman played. The openers come out to see the most weirdest field setting on plant, had a leg slip, only one mid on, everyone else including two wide gully filders. This was their opener, great at off side. I was basically trying to say, look dude, if you think you are that good on the off, try it out. For two overs, the guy kept on hitting straight to fielders on off, no runs scored. Third over start, I told my bowler, dude, pitch it a bit short but on the 5th stump. Let’s see if he tries to drag it to hit on the leg. Walah! short ball, moving away, guy tries to execute a pull way from the off stump – bowled!!!! And from there on, it was one after the other, the match eventually as tied!!! We took a team that had hammered us for 312 to mere 169 in, well just one game!

Point is, as a captain, you don’t need statisticians, you need pure cricketing brain. My mantra always has been, if you cannot win it on the field, win it in the head! Beat them up there. That’s what I call “Gamesmanship”. Every defeat has got to “hurt”. A captain is the linchpin for everything. What do they say, with greater authority comes greater responsibility or something like that. Not too many people were fan of my gamesmanship or a disciplinarian approach to captainship. For me, being a captain was never about pleasing people, it was all about results. Period! I wasn’nt handed over the captain to be popular, but to win games.

Dhoni, a captain of India, not a college cricket team, is totally unaware of such a term! Look back at all the wins we had, it has been about individual brilliance including himself. He never did something that turned the game. Gamesmanship is more important when you side has lost once and how you make a comeback. Look at what’s happening in Australia and England. Did you ever see something different in any test even though we looked like minnows?  Nothing. Well, sorry captain, you got no game.

If you’ve never captained a side, you shouldn’t have an opinion. I’ve been there and done that. The stage is miles or milky ways apart, but the concept doesn’t change. When Clarke was shredding for 300, I would’ve made sure he has to earn everything. You’ve to learn an art of negative bowling. Ranatunga did that successfully against Tendulkar. Yet we see, spread out fields as a mechanism to stop runs. I beg to differ, what you do is, bowl a leg stump line, pack the leg side field and say – If you think you can score on us, go ahead, hit it  against the line. if not, we will give you 300, you’ll just take 5 days to get there. Screw the critics, you are not going there to lose.  Secondly, if I found out well we are making 160 every innings, I would’ve gone to Tendulkar and said ” Dude, cut the crap. You are the most talented batsman, you are opening the innings. If you don’t want to, sit out. Team First, Country first!” . As a captain, you’ve got to have the guts. I remember the last game, my vice-captain was late. He walked in and I said “sorrry dude, grab the scorer sheet. you are not in playing 11”. Everyone was stunned, no one agreed. But it’s a guts call. You’ve to have the ba**** to lead. Else, be one of the other 10! Sehwag has no clue right now about what’s going on with new ball in play, i would’ve said, look dude, be padded up, you go only if 30 overs have been bowled. I want to use you between 30 and 80 overs. If that means he bats at #7 so be it. He is not going in to bat unless he is the only batsman remaining.

Drastic times require Drastic measures, and our captain has no clue of what needs to be done!  Charisma and lady luck can only go so far. These are the times for gamesmanship! Sorry captain, you got none!

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What are you drinking tonight?

Alright, a disclaimer to start. This post doesn’t justify or deny a style of living. It’s an assessment of change in perception. Having said that…

I was born at a time in India where drinking meant a “drunk”. I mean seriously, thinking about it today, I wonder “what were we thinking”. My dad was a connoiseur or food and drinks. He loved to eat non-veg food, mix in a drink or two and that would pretty much be a lifetime. For him living today, eating/drinking what you want was what life was all about. He probably used to drink not more than a drink or two of “rum”/”wiskey” a day. Beer wasn’t his thing. That too, just as a means to spice the evening a bit I guess, but not the kind going out with his friends, partying late night, nothing. Just pure being a regular guy who likes a bit of two of his favorite. But my mom, who came from a family where bringing alcohol or it’s consumption was a pretty much equivalent to sin, wasn’t naturally too happy about it. Seeing your mom feel that way, you pretty much are inclined to form a similar opinion. I didn’t appreciate dad drinking even a bit “at that point in life”. Reflecting back, what was the big deal? one drink, so what, to heck with that….anyways…

I came to the US around 2000, and now there is a complete round about in perception. I was out with my friends until 2-3am (still not drinking), but just a beer or two would be the call of the day. Along the way I met similar minded people, we drank a couple and that’s it. As years passed by, I see more and more of a complete culture shift if you call when it comes to consumption of alcohol. For me, drinking was a part of a party. Now drinking is the party and everything else is just, well, everything else. Every now and then you meet people along the lines of “I want to drink my ass off tonight”, “Oh, that party, everybody was completely wasted”, and mind you I am talking about all immigrants!  I don’t have a problem with drinking, I find it just mind boggling how there is a concept now of you got to get drunk to be cool? I get the part that it’s easy to fit in if you are open to slugging down a few, but never imagined it would get to this. I remember specifically, I got drunk, I mean defined “wasted” drunk, drove my car home and next day for me it was it. I decided “never ever again” and have stood by that until today. For me, throwing up after being drunk, embarrassing yourself and then having no guilt of it the next day, just doesn’t make sense. I can get the point, you do it once, you get it, end of chapter. But I’ve run into people doing it same thing again and again and again. So, what’s the psyche here?

Drinking and getting wasted gives a false sense of confidence. If you are drinking out of your minds to accomplish something you cannot while you are in your senses, you are pure coward. You got to have the guts to say/do something when you are in your senses and if you do the same when you are half drunk, I get it!  I’ve been to school here and I get the point of getting the girl a bit tipsy! Trust me I get it. My point is, just have the guts to say/do when she is tipsy either. I’ve heard the phrase “i didn’t know what I was doing”, sorry girl, don’t buy that. You ALWAYS know what you are doing.

So, where did we get to this? I bet at least 99% of you didn’t demonstrate these traits in India else your parents would’ve beaten the sh** out of you. It’s called, being a part of this culture. That’s what I heard last time. My point is, if you had to learn something from here, learn how people support their troops even though their president makes dumb moves, learn how people here are one when it comes to US vs the world.

In no way, I mean you shouldn’t party or drink. What I am trying to say is, drinking shouldn’t be the motivation for a party! There is a similar concept now in India and I am not sure why. Think about it, are we better served by imbibing this in our culture or we better off without it!

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So what’s your new year resolution?

I am hoping everyone had a fun filled new years eve and made their resolutions with a touch of alcohol. Those are the best ones, “i’ll not drink this year at all (this==earlier night)”, “I will try to be positive” (what were you before that?), oh the best one I make it every year “I will work out”!!!  Wonder what we remember the next morning or the same morning and suddenly there is another day off from work and you end up watch ESPN (at least me) or recovering (not me:)).

Unfortunately, this year, I got no choice. Our boy decided, we had too much fun last new year, didn’t feel a whole lot good on 31st night and exactly at 7pm(ish) started running 100+. Well, we (as in normal human beings) pretty much forget what partying means once our little ones (loved ones) go through the slightest bit of pain and he was in a lot. Wife and me ordered some take out put the boy to bed and decided to crash right away as we had no idea when he will wake up and then we would be up all night. Well that time was 2am, and I remember I wished my wife happy new year and off to kid duties. Trying to rock him to bed, being up with him for hours while he tries to deal with foreign bodies (virus).

Kids tend to cling to their mom once they get sick. I wonder what it is,but it seems fairly universal. He wouldn’t let her do anything, I mean she wasn’t even allowed to move, sleep, eat, drink etc etc. I don’t even remember how many times she ate in the 4 days he was sick. But the whole episode was enlightening to say the least.

Getting into a relationship is commitment enough, getting married takes it to a whole new level. Spouses are physically different entities and I wish the hindu old sayings get modified at some point recognizes it. (“do badan ek jaan” – whatever). So yeah, line of thinking differs based on how you are brought up. When you get married, if those two lines are in parallel, good luck. Yeah, a lot of people wished me that when I got married (LOL). Just hang on to the thought.

Back to my boy being sick and being taken care by his mom, it’s amazing to watch how a woman can endure pain. Here she was, already carrying a 5+ month old and taking care of a 20 month boy who just wouldn’t let her leave. There are times when you feel worthless, as the boy doesn’t want you to be around and the first word when he winces in pain is “Mom”. And the mom, forgets she hasn’t eaten, she hasn’t slept, her back aches and I can see it. I tried making sure there was nothing else she was supposed to do, even making sure she had a glass of water in her hand when needed. But that is minuscule compared to what she went through to make sure my son was given the best care ever. I’ve had friends and family and me for that matter, criticize her behavior of being over cautious about everything when it came to raising a kid, but when the kid is sick, what would you rather have? I will take her attitude in a heartbeat!

We (as in men) can never compete when it comes to patience with women. Well, patience in general not in regards to spouses. If patience towards spouses is the criteria, men are far more patient. Even watching my son sort of take over her life, made me lose my patience and here she was happily trying to feed him, put him to bed etc etc.

In any relationship, you ought to disagree for it to be a relationship. What’s worth eating sugar all day? I didn’t have a new year resolution for 2012, but this year, I will appreciate her and for that matter anyone worthy of the slightest bit!

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What caste are you?

Even the noise of this question bothers me, so landing in the land of freedom in August 2000 and running into the same mediocre question was shocking to say the least. I had just finished filling my onboarding forms in the “ADMIN” building as they used to call and was walking out in a nice warm afternoon when I ran into a bunch of guys from Pune. Alright, this is not focussed on people from Pune, as they are well known for something else anyways:). In any case, we shook hands and I thought, wow, I am glad Indians act like one in a foreign land. After exchanging a few pleasantries, one of the guys “Vindixie” as they used to call him, came up with “kai re mug kuthla aahe tu?” [ who are you]. I didn’t know what he was trying to ask as “caste” was the last thing I had thought, so I asked again, “what do you mean?”. He looked at me as if he had seen a ghost. He looked at others in the group as if “look at this alien”.  To be fair, other’s in the group were pretty low key about it, he gave the impression of a “ring” leader. I answered “Hindu”!

I have been raised in a truely multicultural and multi-caste family to say the least. Every girl that walked in our family including my mom was from a different facet of the society class and now even culture. Everyone was extremely well educated, well rounded, broad minded. At a time when my mom got married, 1970’s, inter-caste apparently was a no-no typically since she was considered “highest” in the society and not the same as my dad’s. My mom told me stories of how her dad practically closed doors after letting her get married to my dad. Eventually my dad was such he surpassed anything remote to caste in the eyes of my grandfather as you cannot really neglect a gem and keep looking at stones. In any case, ever since, my parents decided to raise me away from such thinking and believing everyone was equal.

Until the “mandal commission” [law/rule that gave people unjustified rights to jobs/education ignoring of their qualification] , i had been fairly oblivious or ignorant to this whole yardstick of division. Mandal commission completely blew me away. Suddenly, I knew what caste meant, I saw people burning themselves to oppose it (I don’t agree with the whole burning part, but totally agree with the most moronic idea of creating reservations and then persisting with it if not even taking it further). I started asking my parents about what caste I was what it meant. I was told, hey, this is fodder for the donkey’s and you are not a donkey!  If anyone asks you, tell them you are a “Hindu”.

Few years passed, I made absolutely trust friends from caste “higher” than mine. Everything seemed to sail until I stood in line for my engineering school admission. I heard this guy yelling “hey i am going to get the forms for 125Rs and not 250Rs”. I asked him, “how?” . To my disgust, even the form fees were different. I couldn’t understand. He goes further, you can get it if you belong to “A,B,C,D…” and an entire list of caste as if that is what he learnt in first grade. My only question to him was “Why would you do that if you can afford to pay?”. He was affluent to the limit. He had no answer and he just went past.

My engineering school started, and I was in my second year when this guy sits by me. He seems decent guy, and I go “so you must have really busted your as** to get admission in this? Because, I did mine”, and he blatantly said “Nope, I belong to a rare caste that none found. I barely got 53%”. Here I was proud as ever to get admitted with 98.5% sitting right by a wealthy, I mean, wealthy 53%!!!  I just didn’t get it!

I went back, questioned my mom/dad as to why I was working like a dog to get in when I could’ve gotten one of the certificates and probably gotten in scoring 80%. My dad told me – Cuz we are born equal. Caste was created to divide not to unite. My dad was the best guy in the world, but this was beyond it. His thinking was so deep right. Try to think what does caste do anyways? And reservations on top of that…….

Well, but let’s not see one side of the story. The story on the other side of people from the uppermost caste – my mom, my wife didn’t help the cause either. These made sure, they always hung out with people from their own, looked at probably everyone else other than them including people of their own with slight difference as lower. Having said that, not sure if creating reservations was the way to punish the upper caste. What have the kids done wrong? they work the same hours, they pay double the fees and still are not entitled to same education, same job, same security etc etc. This is a snowball and I don’t see any end to this.

If we use the same analogy of caste-ism in the US, probably there would be a caste of a “software developer”, a caste of “economist”, a caste called “7/11” maybe. I mean, this even sounds outright ridiculous. And good luck with getting “reservation” in this country based on that!

We don’t need reasons to divide, we are Indians, we were born to fight within ourselves. The onus is not on the upper caste to fight for removing the reservations, the onus is on those who qualify for these to relinquish them. That’s one way of uniting people. If you think you are born equal, learn to act equal!

I was born an Indian, who were you?

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