Monday, September 27, 2010

Another side of Mumbai

I am seriously considering to rename my blog to Mumbai Blog. I write so much about this city. The reason is simple. This city has never ever failed to amuse me. Each single day, I experience something new. Each time I step out, I spot something new, lively, beautiful, irritating, thought provoking, annoying but at the end of the day when I ponder about those events, I always find them amusing.

And I have already boasted a lot about my teaching, so I will not repeat that yet again. But I need to mention this - I stay in the suburban part of Mumbai and I have to go to South Mumbai to teach. It is approximately an hour long journey. I travel by Mumbai lifeline - local trains. Now, if you live in Mumbai or you have ever visited the city, and travelled by the local train, then you will agree with me when I say that it is not an easy feat to travel by one especially if you are new in Mumbai.

In my case, I have always been fond of South Mumbai or town as we call it here. When I shifted to Mumbai in 1998, my hostel was at CST (VT then) and college at Churchgate. After a year, my parents shifted to Mumbai permanently and I moved in with them in the suburban part of Mumbai. But my heart was still at town. I completed my graduation and post graduation from Sydenham college and Law from KC law. All these years, I travelled from Suburb to Town by the local trains. First class, second class and general compartments - I have experienced all even during peak hours (and trust me, it requires guts to travel by general compartment at 6 pm!). Trains are so crowded that you cannot even move an inch from first stop to the last stop. Still, people keep getting in on each station, crushing you even more, fighting and abusing at those stamping their feet or maybe just for fun.

Travelling after a gap of  three years was no different except for the fact that it was Sunday and trains were comparatively less crowded. Now, apart from the mad rush and crowd, another common site is the Vendors who sell various stuff in the compartments. These stuff include from a needle to comb, from hair clips to cosmetics, from bags to clothes, from mobile covers to railway time tables, from flowers to vegetables - anything and everything is available in the train compartment.

So many times, I have seen ladies selling such things for living even at the time of their pregnancy, or with an infant tied down to her back with the help of a piece of cloth, struggling to earn the bread to feed her child/children/family. 

But the worst thing is to see small children selling stuff like that. One side, we are talking about stopping child labour, passing various laws to prevent the same; but nothing helps. Still children have to work. Either those children are compelled to work or they do not have any other option but to work. 

I have spoken with many such children in past. But those stories I will share in a separate post. Here is another picture of children, school children enjoying some music on a mobile phone.

Some things have changed so much, while some things are still the same. Life goes on in Mumbai for all - for those who are deprived of education and those who travel from Virar to Malad to study in a Government school as they do not have money to take admission in private schools; carrying a mobile once in a while which is a great deal for them. And there are those children who are gifted a blackberry on their 8th birthday! Such is life!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

On the other side of the table

I am enjoying teaching. I teach three different subjects to undergraduates who are either pursuing their bachelor degree in commerce or appearing for professional exams. The subjects I teach are Business law, Business Communication and Management. The most interesting of all is Business Communication where I get to give all the gyaan that I have about English language, Effective communication, how to write an essay, how to avoid using jargon and how to use your vocabulary in the best possible manner. 

Today's lecture was about essay writing. Now, last night I happened to have a conversation with a blogger - NH, who is in the same batch as a few of my students. When I told her that I was taking a lecture at 8 am on a Sunday morning, she gave me an insight to a student's mind (well, I was a student of this age too errrrrr 10 years back :P). Her accusations on "my kinds" were:

"Why do professors always spoil students' weekend?"

"Can you explain why such outrageous timings on a Sunday morning! students par anyaay"

"Ah, even I have to get up early, travel for an hour to reach there and give a lecture for 2 hours on how to write an essay!" - this was my explanation to her as I couldn't have said that I understood her point. After all, I am now on the other side of the table where I have to be "cruel" :P

When I entered the classroom, each and every person was looking sleepy and dreamy. If it would have been a law lecture, I am sure all of them would have zonked out in 5 minutes flat! But the topic was about how to write an essay - a fun topic as the subject matter I chose for them was "Social Networking Sites" - something all of them (and us too) love. My first question to them was - "Do you guys know what is a Blog?"

To be honest, I was not expecting any of them to give me the exact picture as there are very few teenage bloggers around. But one student did know what blogs were and what blogging was all about. When I asked him whether he reads blogs, he said, "Only celebrities blog!"

Now I did not know whether to feel proud or offended about this statement; but I did not tell him that I blog as well! In the train too, two ladies were discussing blogs. They were talking about what kind of blogs they prefer to read. According to them, personal blogs are boring. How youngsters only rant on personal blogs - about their job, life, husband and wife, friends, lover, food, traffic, travel and every possible thing! 

It's always interesting to know what others think of this blogging world. Actually, for me it's always interesting to know what people think about even smallest of the things. I have heard so many opinions about lawyers, bloggers, students and now professors. Standing on a stage addressing on a particular issue to students who may start looking upto you if they can relate to you. You are standing at a place which you always respected when you were on the other side of the table. Pardon me if I am sounding conceited, but this is what I always wanted to do; well apart from 10 other things in my professional life :P.

Here is a small incentive of being a Professor that brings a smile on my face each time I see it:

Friday, September 17, 2010

About festivals and Kids

It's festive season all around Maharashtra. At least in Mumbai, people are celebrating. Loud music is playing at every corner. An NRI friend called me and became so damn nostalgic after hearing the loud music that he didn't even realize that he was on phone with me! But well, I can give him that liberty when he is already missing the Ganesh Utsav in Mumbai. 

I visited a few friends' too who had Ganeshji at their places. It's always amusing to see the decorations, enthusiasm and spirit of Indians when it comes to celebrating any festival. This time around, Ganesh Chaturthi, Eid and Jain festival (Paryushan) fell on the same day. Each and every corner of the city was decorated with lights, there were smiles everywhere and no rains. Now, it's difficult not to feel happy in such a festive mood. Yes, the heavy rains, gloomy weather and bad mood turned all happy happy thanks to the festivals.

But the happiest and most enthusiastic person is my niece. She is too young to even know the difference between human and God, but still, each time the music plays, both her hands go in the air, and each time Aarti starts in the neighbourhood, she starts clapping. If she sees Ganeshji, or any other God, she lowers her head and folds her hands. She does the same when we switch on the lights. None of these has been taught to her. She does it after observing people. This has made all of us very careful. We make sure we do not shout at anybody or or use bad words (we anyway do not use bad words, but we do not even use the words idiot and stupid), we talk to her about everything and she even understands quite a few things! Phew!! Kids today are damn smart!

But my mother has taken her "understanding" to a different level altogether. My niece is now a days hooked to some TV serial called Utaran (pardon the spelling mistake, if any!). She becomes so very happy the moment she hears "kya hoti utaran"! I didn't know what to do about it, so I got her hooked to wavin' flag by K Naan :P She even enjoys CID (which I love watching) and Cricket. She is not an avid viewer of TV though. She watches it for a few seconds. If she smiles, that means she likes it, if she throws tantrums for no reason whatsoever, it means that you are supposed to switch off the television as she does not like the sound of whatever is playing!

Any age group, kids are very smart these days. I happened to visit a mall a few days back. There were many rides like train, horses, cars and such rides, but the maximum crowd was near the bungee jumping board for kids. Kids were going mad there. First they were crying for their turn, and then they were crying to come down. I made a friend click a few photographs of that place. I use a non-blackberry business phone with no flash in the camera. Thus I had to ask him to click those snaps :)

Above: the empty train and Below: the empty horse ride

Ah, the kids gaming zone had the heart game too. Aim and win :D

Toddlers also wanted to bungee jump :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Monsoon Effect

How strange it seems when your mood changes as per the weather. If you live in Mumbai, you will surely be able to relate with me. Last ten days have been really gloomy for most of the Mumbaites thanks to the rains. There is traffic, mud and darkness all around you. Even if you love showers, you will for sure feel depressed in this weather. The sun plays hide and seek more often these days. A bight and sunny afternoon turns lifeless within seconds, making you feel low and depressed. But, as they say, in Mumbai, we do not even have time to notice our own mood shifts. We tweet about bad weather and move on to doing our regular stuff, but it does affect us. The mood is snappy, or quiet or irritated all the time.

Yes you guessed it right. I am in a not so good mood. Weather is playing a big part in my mood to be honest. Thanks to my profession, I have work in extremities. Either I am working the whole day and night and still have a lot of work pending, or I am busy doing nothing at all, which includes occasional spans of lazying around and talking to 2-3 close friends on gtalk. I even enjoy reading blogs. I read a lot, but when it comes to commenting, I comment only when I have anything to add to the post. This reminds me of something I have been pondering upon for quite some time.

I am close friends with a few bloggers who happen to be very popular on blogsphere. They are I, S and G. Now, all of us read and comment on the posts we feel are good. We do not comment for the sake of it or to receive those comments back. But everyone cannot be so good as us right? It will be crazily insane (if such a term exists) to expect anybody to be like us. So, the best way out is ignorance. We ignore those comments which ask us to comment back on their blogs, we even ignore mails and tweets from such people. It will happen as it's a part of this blogworld right?

Ah, this post is turning out to be more of a cribbing post. But you cannot help but to crib thanks to the dull weather. There is no light outside my window. Thanks to the ongoing repair work at my place, we all are sitting in one room, thanks to the unexpected showers once in a while, we are surrounded by clothes drying around us, furniture scattered everywhere and my niece is not keeping well too. Ah, the weather has got into all of us it seems.

Enough of sad things already I guess. Ganesh Utsav starts from tomorrow. Many of my friends and neighbours have Ganeshji at their places. Thus Sunday is going to be the day for paying a visit to their place. I am kind of looking forward to it. It always feels nice to meet old friends who are busy in their lives once in a year. Luckily, the festival is falling over the weekend. Thus everyone will meet at the same time. This will even mean more pollution and traffic, but well, as they say, God is exempted from everything. I am even invited at my Muslim friends' place to celebrate the occasion of eid. An eventful weekend to look forward to this time around. If I happen to click images there, then will share on this blog. But for now, enjoy a few random clicks:

Monsoon effect at Andheri Link Road

Almost everywhere on the roads,this is a common scene

Work never stops. With or without umbrella

Even with a plastic bag on the head for that matter

A scene at a Government office at Bandra

Somewhere on the Western Express Highway

Monday, September 06, 2010

Being a Teacher

Back in school, teachers' day for us was like a chocolate day. Apart from birthdays of any classmate, the only other time chocolates were distributed in the classroom was on Teachers' Day. I remember directing plays each year for our teachers, I even participated once in a play at the time of Annual Day, but that's a different story (rather a post) altogether. 

In school, we treated each teacher at par, greeting each of them - whether they taught us or not. I lived in a small town, where everybody knew everybody. A smallest of misconduct and your parents would know even before you reach home. Thus occasions like Teachers' Day, Independence Day, Annual Day etc. were the times when I tried my level best to be in their good books so that my "not doing homework" routine was taken care of within school premises itself. I was too lazy in this case by the way. 4 days a week I spent outside my class or outside staff room as I never did my homework. But well, I was an intelligent student (ahem!) and managed to secure second rank each year (ahem ahem :P), so most of my teachers just gave me "not so severe" punishments like throwing me out of class for 15 odd minutes or speak with Vice Principal and take his permission for attending the lecture, or write the homework three/five times (ah, they were always so hopeful :P) and such; but nothing worked. 

School life got over and college life began. Different city, different environment and different attitude. In the five years of my college life, I hardly knew a few professors. I rarely attended, second rank was forgotten long back. Passing the year was the only target. I didn't even study for my 12th board exams as I knew I would not change my college, thus scoring never mattered there. But somehow, Teachers' Day was never forgotten. I used to wish my school teachers, couple of professors in college and classes I attended. Ah, call it the "school effect", but I did believe in this day a lot.

Change in the scene yet again. Now I was working and no college for a year as I didn't know what to take up as a career option. Actually, there was M Com for which I had enrolled; but it was purely to be a part of my college for two more years. Now, to be honest, I have no idea why I decided to take admission in a law college, but well, you can say that Law happened to me out of nowhere. No inspiration, no family background, no interest and no knowledge whatsoever, but I was doing law. The scenario more or less remained the same when it came to attending lectures. Here again, even though I knew the names of three main professors (there were more, which I learnt in the last year :P), out of the three, two loathed me due to various reasons. But they passed me each time in internals. 

Now I am doing my masters in law. I do attend more regularly than I had ever attended in college. I do have a professor whom I really respect and I wished her first thing in the morning. But this Teachers' Day was special as I was wished too. Yes, I am a professor now and my students wished me "Happy Teachers' Day". To be honest, I wanted them to wish me and I was hoping that they do. The moment I entered the classroom, they greeted me with the wish. It was an overwhelming experience. I know it will sound stupid to many of you, as this is not something one should go ga ga over or flaunt so much. But to me, it really mattered as it was a kind of respect that I got and that usually matters to me more than the "other" benefits of teaching. 

In the evening, I went to Tea Centre where we spotted a small group of a few junior college students and two professors enjoying tea and snacks. It felt wonderful to see them together celebrating one of the most special days for them at this stage. I do not believe that college life is all about celebrating valentines day and rose day, chocolate day and traditional day. There are other occasions too. And no, I have not realized the importance of this day after becoming a professor. I wrote a post on this day last year around too. It has always been important to me and I will try and make it all the more important.

We all have favourite teachers at some point in time. I have one too, Professor Chandrakant Saave, my math professor in school. I always looked upto him. He was a very strict professor, but never with me as I was his favourite student. I still remember him well though we have not been in touch with each other. He was made my school principal a few years ago and now retired. But I will soon go and meet him. It's been on my wishlist for quite some time now. And I hope to meet him soon.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Anything for Fame

I am too late to blog about this topic, I know. Blame it on my busy schedule, laziness and no mood for being politically correct (am I otherwise?), but I somehow kept procrastinating to blog about it. In the meanwhile, another blogger blogged about it, but that blogger wrote "not so good and not so right" things about our e-magazine N-zine, but more on that, in another post. Thus I am not going to tag/mention that post here :P 

Alright! I cannot be politically correct!

Now, since I do not have a "pseudonymous blog identity" or a "nome de plume" for my blog, I can be easily tracked down on social networking sites. Many bloggers add me whether they read me or not. There is a purpose behind adding bloggers to the facebook list. As per the latest trend, every blogger must have a fan page for their blog on facebook. OK, let me be honest here. Even I used to have one, when I wanted to keep my blog and my personal account separate. But slowly, almost everyone learnt that I blog, thus I deleted it. Back to strangers and non-readers adding me as a friend on facebook, so that I could become a "fan" of their blog. It was still fine with me so far as they were only sending me the request. Things became irritating when some started spamming. To an extent that I had to remove those users from my account and block them. So if you happen to read this post and you are the one who is no longer on my friends' list, you know the reason now! 

The fan page thing was still fine, for it never tried to do any harm to me or any other person, if you once again ignore the controversy created by a 16 years old "young professional advisor" blogger on N-zine group page which made N-zine a big hit and me a bit more famous thanks to Techgoss article :P A month or so back, I got a friend's request from someone called "We Blogger". There were a few common friends and I am too shameless when it comes to using the block button on facebook to block unwanted people, I accepted it, albeit reluctantly. After five minutes, i got the request to "follow" their fan page. :Sigh:

This fan page was the most unique one when it came to the content. They offered to "review" the blogs, "interview" the bloggers and "blogroll" them if you follow their blog! Since beginning, they were way too secretive about their real identity. After promising big things, they finally launched their site - on a domain - a free domain service provider. Bloggers blindly followed the blog and in no time, the blog had 200+ followers. Many prolific bloggers even gave an interview. Now the interesting thing here was that the questionnaire of the so called interview was copied verbatim from the Blogadda interviews. Blogadda has a better name and reputation and is a bigger and more transparent brand than Web Logger/We Blogger or whatever the real name was! When someone from Blogadda pointed this out to Web Logger people, they simply blocked the person stating the reason that he was spamming which was an utter lie!

I witnessed the whole thing. I felt there was something wrong happening out there. Thus I posted a comment on their wall, which said:
Well, I am surprised! you guys are asking everyone to "Follow" you so that you "Blogroll" them! you are skeptical to reveal your identity - fine, my problem with anonymity is well known around blogsphere, but to each his own and I respect that. But when you "add" bloggers as friends, review them, interview them and still do not reveal your identity to them? hmmm

I read your interview questionnaire. Blogadda's spokesperson was right. It is almost same as blogadda. their company matters to them as much as WeBlog is important to you. I am sorry to be blunt and rude, but you guys are here to make money at the cost of other honest bloggers. Be upfront about your intentions.

I am sorry, but I cannot associate myself with you in any manner.
My this wall post was deleted within five minutes from the page. They sent me a mail after deleting it as I unfollowed their fan page and removed them from friends' list. Their explanation for anonymity was pretty simple one. They told me whether I asked about the identity of people behind google, yahoo, facebook etc. before joining those sites! I guess I am better off without knowing such "famous" people like Web Logger!

But for me, it all comes to one thing - what all people do to become famous in the virtual world which according to me is nowhere close to the real one. They defame others, create a false impression, create unnecessary controversies, misquote others, write on sensational topics, try to gain sympathy on blogs to increase traffic or to make another venture popular (as I mentioned earlier, more on this, later. Promise ;)) and such countless tricks! I wish a fan page or a "blogroll" could make you so very popular and rich that you could retire next year! But wake up people, it does not do so!! All it does is encourage a few stupid bloggers like me to give you a bit more fame and name. But I am smart too. I will not give you a linkback :P Nor am I so famous that if people google, my blog will come first. So there you go!

Do click on the links in this post. They are one of the ways to make me famous :P Like the title says - Anything for Fame!

Image courtesy: