Alice

A girl has no name.
There is a name that society calls her,
But a girl has no name.
It’s not a name she chose,
It was given to her.
But a girl wants nothing to do with that name.
Who chose that name?
Why was that name chosen?
If someone else chose a name,
Would the name be different?
Did her name say who she was?
Or did it say who she is yet to become?
Does one grow into a name?
Or does a name grow onto you?
What does a girl do
When she doesn’t grow into a name?
Or when a name doesn’t grow onto her?
A girl has no name.
Can she choose a name
Now that she has no name?
What name does she choose?
She could either choose a name
That says who she is now
Or who she aims to become.
Maybe a name that says she is growing.
She’s ever-changing.
Today,
She isn’t the person she was yesterday,
And tomorrow she won’t be today’s.
So, a girl has no name.
Will she ever find a name that she truly is?
Is anyone truly one name?
But until a girl decides
Or someone decides for her again,
A girl has no name.

The Girl, the Mother and the Wardrobe

‘The toy seller had… a most mysterious and fascinating bag, one in which no one but the toy seller was allowed to look’, Somi and Rusty, friends in small places, Ruskin Bond.

There’s nothing truly fabulous about this specific sentence by Mr Bond, as compared to other fabulous things he has written. Except that it struck a chord within me. I immediately paused my reading, took out my green Camlin 3B pencil and scribbled a pair of brackets to enclose this statement. It’s a habit despised by most (including myself, only 3 years ago) but explaining why I grew into this habit would take two whole pages.

My family and I had lived in many houses, but we had our own house when my sister arrived in this world and that’s the house we grew up in – all four of us – for 12 solid years. I remember all t he reformations the house had gone through over the years, but the one thing that never changed was our mother’s cupboard.

My parent’s shared everything, except their cupboard. It encompassed of an entire wall in their bedroom and was equally divided into three vertical compartments – one for papa and two for m umma. This 2:1 ratio automatically gave mumma some sort of advantage and a foreboding air. The only person allowed to open the cupboard and rummage through it was mumma. She was the only one with keys to access it (not even papa) and I only ever sneaked a peek – that too with one door shut and one partially open.

The keys that hung from the cupboard’s key hole weren’t just meant for opening locks. The number of keys on one humongous key ring was so remarkable that if we lived in England in the middle ages, my mother could’ve been named ‘Master (or Mistress) of Keys and Cupboards of the Castle’. The real purpose that the innumerable keys held was to warn everyone – even Mrs Kapoor on the third floor (we lived on the sixth) – that the cupboard was being opened. As a result, I didn’t dare sneak into her room and open the cupboard while she was napping or in another room out of fear that the jangling keys would give me away. So the door remained closed, I remained out of it and mumma the only one with access to it.

When I grew old enough to watch the Chronicles of Narnia, I compared my mother’s cupboard to the one in ‘Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ – a doorway to something magical. Turns out, it was exactly that. Anyone from an Indian middle class family would assume that the gold was to blame. All Indian women have gold that they keep hidden or locked away, but not in our case. All the valuable things were at the bank, but that did not mean the cupboard was devoid of treasures – the very opposite to be very true. That cupboard was a treasure trove, as I learned once I grew up and was deemed old enough to hold my tongue and temptations.

It held the following list of items:
1)  Chocolates – Toblerones, Kisses, Ferrero Rochers, Mars, Snickers, Lindt, Milky Way, Kinder joy, Milka bars, and so on and so forth.
2)  Gifts- received on birthdays and repacked to give others
3)  Spare stationary, utensils and buttons
4)  New clothes
5)  Boxes of cookies that actually stored needles and threads
6)  Fancy wrapping paper and used folded wrapping paper
7)  Fancy paper bags
8)  Old broken jewellery
9)  Photo albums and spare passport size photographs
10)  Safety pins
So you see, while there were the most ordinary things in there (or the most extraordinary, depending on how you see it), the cupboard was mysterious only because ‘no one but the toy seller was allowed to look’.

By Vedanti Shinde,
Published in Know Your Town Volume 1 Issue 6

My Superhero

We hear so many stories in our childhood, and my childhood stories have been full of legendary figures like Lord Krishna, Lord Ram and Shivaji Maharaj. I was always in awe of these people, who achieved such inhuman tasks, and yet were mortals just like us. But no one, NO ONE, can be my superhero more than him. He’s the only only who could awe me, support me, lift me, give my life purpose. The only person who could motivate me to be a better person. Even as a child, it was him I wanted to impress; his appreciations that I seeked.
I remember this one day when I had to choose between him and Shivaji Maharaj as my icon. I was as small as three yrs old and was on a trek with my parents. I reached the top of the trek only because everyone told me I could meet Shivaji on the top. Little did my little self know that he had actually passed away decades ago. I gave up all hope of ever seeing Shivaji, until I saw him sitting there. He lifted me on his shoulders, carried me to the fort, and told me about how bravely Shivaji had died. And I found my Shivaji – my dad.
He has literally saved me from wolves and cobras that we encountered during our treks. He picked me up while carrying a fifteen kg rucksack when I was about to pass out.
But the reason he is my Shivaji is because of his own horrible mountaineering accident. On a rock climbing accident, two of his friends and him almost reached the pinnacle before the rope gave away and they fell metres to the ground. One died on the spot, one got a broke shoulder and my dad’s knee tore away from his leg. Having no other option, and leaving his dead friend’s body, he pulled himself and his friend through for hours, dragging his torn leg along, before he collapsed on the side of a road. He woke up on a hospital bed in Jaslok hospital. And months after he recovered, he said he wouldn’t resume normal life till he went back to the cliff, climbed it again, stood on top of the pinnacle and came back down safe. He did that. He did it. And then resumed normal life.
Years after this, he runs multiple marathons in a year. He has trained me all my athletics years, and would race me 100mts. He took me trekking every year. He travels the world. He is the one who encouraged me to do my basic mountaineering course, and finish it successfully. He is the reason I push myself harder and harder every time. He’s the reason why I will always look at nature and smile. He’s the reason I expect more out of myself. He is my reason for everything. He’s my dad, and he’s my superhero. He will always be my superhero.

(This is a piece I had written for the college magazine in 2015. Themes- Childhood and Superheroes)

Relativity

Time, you ask me,

And I wonder what to answer you.

Time is relative, isn’t it?

And I don’t mean by physics,

Although I guess I’d know some of that too;

What with space-time relativity

And all those sci-fi shows I watch.

But Time is relative, isn’t it?

It could mean distance

If you ask me how much further you have to go.

Then again, it could be a moment,

Or a lifetime.

Totally depends on how far you want to go.

But I answer-

Bas panch minute, vo aage waale junction pe rokk dena

But Time.

Time is relative, isn’t it?

It could be the 8 PM curfew by a phone ring

Or an 8 am lecture by a bell ring.

What time are you asking?

And what answer do you expect?

Must I say- it’s time to wake up

Or that it’s time to sleep?

Should I say-

It’s the era of British rule?

Or the dawn of Marathas?

Or some other Time

That this time in history will be named,

Which I don’t know the name of

Because enough time hasn’t passed yet

To name it anything remarkable.

Perhaps I should say-

It’s time you got married,

It’s time you grew up,

Or maybe, it’s time you gave up.

I read once in a Harry Potter book

That a wizard’s house had a clock

With no numbers.

It didn’t tell you what time it was,

But told you instead if it was time to sleep or eat or play

Or if you were late.

Life would be easier

If time were defined that way,

Just as it was back when time really was defined that way.

But Time.

It’s all relative, isn’t it?

What must I tell you now when you ask me what Time it is?

I guess I must ask you to tell me

The context

In which you ask

Because Time,

It’s relative, isn’t it?

Clash of Egos

We Indians are supposed to be known for our tolerance. We tolerate religions, politics, price hikes, local train rush and traffic. But something we can’t tolerate is someone even slightly implying that we are wrong; even if we are. We take right and wrong, and the accusation of the same very personally. Sab kuch ijjat pe aata hai! We would sooner say Sachin Tendulkar is NOT the god of cricket than admit that we are wrong or we made a mistake.

The area surrounding a bank in Naupada (that should not be named) is very congested. Bikes and carts and people occupy the entire area, leaving no possible parking space for cars. Yet, on a Monday afternoon, a man parked his car there keeping in mind that it might be a possible hindrance to many people. So he kept one eye on the car while going about his bank work, in case he needed to move the car for someone. After a few minutes, a young guy in his twenties walked in and asked very loudly who had parked the car on the road, followed by a request to move it. The owner walked toward him, but before he could say anything, a bank employee asked out loud- ‘Who do you think you are, walking in like that and demanding something from our customers?’ Before matters got worse, the owner interrupted, accompanied the young man outside, moved his car and thanked him for bringing this to his notice.

The owner of the car went back into the bank where the bank manager had now come out and was apologizing for the scene created. He confided that the young man often did this. ‘Who does he think he is to tell us anything?’ he asked. The owner of the car looked stumped and replied- ‘I’m sorry, but he was a responsible citizen of the country who thought it his duty to inform the owner that his car was a hindrance to many more people who accessed the road. As a responsible citizen, it is my duty to move my car if more people are benefitted by that. He didn’t do anything wrong. He was doing his duty, and he helped me do mine.’

The young man was just doing his duty to the society through a simple act. Why do we take that personally, instead of accepting that we may be wrong and taking a step to make it right? Since when does a small selfless act clash with egos of those who do nothing for the society?

Sangharsh: My Childhood Superhero

Here’s something I wrote…

Source: Sangharsh: My Childhood Superhero

The Quest for the Sanitary Pad

Dark and Stormy Nights are Banned Here

You all know that feeling of being in a classroom, being on your period and needing a pad, right? And you all know what you do in that situation too. You start whispering to the girl closest to you and she gives you a sympathetic look and starts whispering to the next girl and this goes on until the whispering chain reaches a girl who has a spare pad.

Then you stroll casually, nothing to see here, until you get to her and she tells you what kind of pad she has and asks if that’s okay. You tell her that of course it’s okay, you just need a pad, any pad. So then you shift a bit to the left and she shifts a bit to the right so her bag is covered. She reaches in and pulls out the pad, and gives it to you concealed under a…

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I don’t think Awards matter

Rotaract is one of the best things to have happened to me. I met many people, did projects that I could’ve never done. At the end of a Rotaract year, there is an award ceremony called AARAs for many different categories.
We got nominated for many and won two.
We were all happy and jumping with joy.
Many other clubs weren’t AS happy.

But I think the AARAs don’t matter. I think our entire year together matters. The friends we made, the fights we had. The things we learnt and the projects that were successful. The losses we faced and the projects that got cancelled.
We came for gbms because we liked meeting each other, we liked the discussions we had, we liked sharing our thoughts, projects and initiatives.
We did projects because we believed in them, we had fun doing them and we learnt so many things. Above all, we got to spend time with each other.
Throughout the year we either didn’t know about AARAs or didn’t really care about them. But we did the projects and gbms despite all that. We had fun doing what we did, and AARAs are an added bonus. I think the point is the year. I think the point is all of us and what we do. And I think that’s what matters. AARAs can be the added bonus, instead of our goal. Our goal should be us, our ideas and beliefs, and doing projects because we believe in the concepts or merely want to have fun.

Just an opinion.

One thing striked off my Bucket List!

Watch “No Elf, No Hobbit” on YouTube

No Elf, No Hobbit: http://youtu.be/Iocfb5iLZYk

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