Friday, 13 April 2018

Welcome to your "lakshya" in life!

We, as human beings are a unique set of species who unlike other species do not have to go through the grind of foraging for food and water, day in and day out. Thanks to the development of agriculture, food security was established. Now, as our free time opened up, we started developing and honing skills like metallurgy, craftsmanship and pottery. Languages blossomed, empires and civilizations were established. Kings and dynasties came and went, wars were fought. What is common across these events is that each one of us found a purpose in life, a life goal, a "लक्ष्य ".

This goal may be fixed, or it evolves over time. Short term goals, long term goals, career goals, family goals, relationship goals and so on. It is essential to find your true calling in life. For some, this true calling is their passion which they monetize and convert it into a career. For instance, musicians, sportsperson, the film industry etc. Such avenues are where the success rate is low and rejections are common. After toiling and struggling for many years, they are able to land that perfect album, that scintillating sports career, or that big ticket movie. However, a majority of us play the "safe tried and tested route".  In a country with a billion plus population, of whom a large percentage are students, many study hard during our 11th and 12th classes, to land that engineering seat. Students get the illusion that life is settled after an engineering degree, they needn't work hard and they will succeed as engineers in their core branch. In most cases that doesn't happen. A huge chunk do MBA, or get into the software industry because they think, that's where the money and "sexiness of job" lies. Currently, becoming a data scientist and getting into analytics is on the minds of many engineering students.

This meme sums it up aptly!!

Whatever be our profession, there is one thing that remains constant - the setting of goals and achieving them. The feeling that one gets upon striking something off a to-do list is amazing. However, how does one set a goal? It so happens that when we start our day, we stuff so many things into our to-do list that we don't end up even completing even 30%. Another thing we should keep in mind that our goals must be time-bound and realistic. For instance, if our goal is to learn a new sport, say swimming and if we are scared of water, then we can't have a goal that we will be able to swim like an expert in a month. That's being just unreasonable. A more practical goal would be that we would be able to float in water without support after a month. Now that we have been able to set a reasonable and time-bound goal, we should put all our hard work into it.

So what is your "लक्ष्य " (aim) ? From the most mundane things, like a daily to do-list to the most ambitious one like starting your own company, maybe? It all comes to breaking that huge ambitious goal into smaller, time bound steps. Then you get clarity and focus. After that, it is the just the matter of living that dream everyday and putting your heart and soul into it.

Remember, the best dreams are not when one is sleeping, but when one is wide awake, and working hard.

Inspiration can also come from movies. One of the best Bollywood movies in the 2000s, much ahead of its time is Lakshya. A carefree, aimless youth decides to join the armed forces. How he conquers his laziness, and comes out as a mentally strong, focused gentleman is the story. Here's the title track of the song.

I've also covered it as a piano cover:

Lakshya Title Track - Soundcloud cover

Decorated with powerful Hindi lyrics, a few lines are enclosed below:

रोके तुझको आँधियाँ , या ज़मीन , या आसमाँ ,
पाएगा  जो लक्ष्य है तेरा।
 लक्ष्य को, हर हाल में पाना है।

(Even if the storm stops you, or the earth, or the sky
You need to achieve your aim
The aim, you have to achieve it no matter what)

हिम्मत से जो कोई चले ,
धरती हिले, कदमों तले।
क्या दूरियाँ, क्या फासले
मंजिल लगे, आगे गले।

(If someone walks with courage,
The earth shakes under his feet
What separation, what distances,
The destination is there just hug it)

तू चल यूहीं सुभह हो शाम ,
रुकना झुकना नहीं तेरा काम
पाएगा  जो लक्ष्य है तेरा।

(You keep proceeding, whether it is morning or evening,
Stopping slouching is not your work
And you will achieve your aim)

This song is a blast of inspiration! I recommend that you watch the movie, its one of the finest Bollywood war and coming of age movies.

It is easy to have a focused attitude and be enthusiastic when all s going well in your life. But how do you react when the chips are down? When you face trying times, either at work or in your personal life? Easier said than done, but keeping your head high and working yourself through difficult times of your life is when you emerge as a true winner. In that context, I came across this inspirational song from the English singer Bon Jovi titled "Welcome to wherever you are".

Some sample lyrics enclosed below:

When everybody's in and you're left out,
And you feel you're drowning with a shadow of a doubt,
Everyone's a miracle, in their own way.
Just listen to yourself, not what other people say.

Be who you wana be, be who you are are,
Everyone's a hero, everyone's a star.

Welcome to wherever you are,
This is your life, you made it this far.
Welcome, you gotta believe,
That right here, right now
You're exactly where you're supposed to be,
Welcome, to wherever you are.

Songs like these should be played everyday in school to inculcate in students the ethos of positive attitude and hard work. After all, we are here only for a limited time on this earth, and we need to make the most of our time here. Quoting the lyrics of a famous rap-rock song

All I know,
that time is a valuable thing,
Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings.
Watch it count down to the end of the day
The clock ticks life away.

So seize the day, and "Welcome to your लक्ष्य in life"!!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Udaaan -- The Rollercoaster of Life

Cinema and music videos are a powerful medium. The Indian movie industry produces around 2000 movies annually. Most movies are escapist in nature with scenes of heroes with 6 pack abs warding off an army of villains, or about love stories. However there are a few movies which minus the melodrama and masala, just describe success stories and the struggles of life. One such movie is Udaan.

Set in Jamshedpur, it is based partially on the life of famous producer and Bollywood director Anurag Kashyap. Directed by Vikramaditya Motwane, it is one of the few Bollywood movies that are not over the top in melodrama, slapstick comedy or mindless action scenes. This movie is all about coming-of-age and finding your passion and true calling in life.

The music of this movie is both motivating and inspirational. Composed by Amit Trivedi with lyrics written by Anurag Kaskyap and Amitabh Bhattacharya, there are elements of rock and grunge genres in it. The best track of this movie, in my opinion is "Kahaani - Aankon ke Pardon Pe".


The lyrics of this song are quite poignant. 

कहानी खत्म है या शुरुवात होने को है ,
सुबह नाइहि है या फिर रात होने को है,
आने वाला वक्त देगा पनाहें ,
या फिर से मिलेंगे दो राहें ,
खबर क्या, क्या पता !

A rough translation in English follows:

Has a story got over or is it a beginning of new story,
Is it morning or again nightfall,
Will the coming times gives us refuge and shelter,
Or will again we get two paths
We do not know !

Life provides us with many ups and downs, problems and tough times. For some it is the death of a loved one, an accident, physical injury or trauma associated with it. For others, it could be less severe problems like emotional issues like anxiety, depression, heartbreak etc. It takes a little time to tide over such times. And songs with lyrics such as these give us the inner strength to overcome such temporary setbacks and come out stronger in life.

I would like to make a small digression. On a recent trip to Jabalpur, I had been on a boat ride through the Marble Rocks on the river Narmada. Boating through the serene river with cliffs and rocks towering above was a surreal experience.

Which brings me to another song from the movie Udaan - Naav.

 The opening lyrics go as follows :

Naav Hai Teri Lyrics

Chadhti lehren laangh na paayen
Kyun haanpti si naav hai teri, naav hai teri
naav hai teri..
Tinka tinka jod ke saanse
Kyun naanpti si naav hai teri, naav hai teri
naav hai teri..
Ulti behti dhaar hai bairi, dhaar hai bairi
Ulti behti dhaar hai bairi, dhaar hai bairi
Ke ab kuch kar ja re bandhu..

Read more:
Chadhti lehren laangh na paayen
Kyun haanpti si naav hai teri, naav hai teri
naav hai teri..
Tinka tinka jod ke saanse
Kyun naanpti si naav hai teri, naav hai teri
naav hai teri..
Ulti behti dhaar hai bairi, dhaar hai bairi
Ulti behti dhaar hai bairi, dhaar hai bairi
Ke ab kuch kar ja re bandhu..

Read more:
 चढ़ती लहरें लांघ न पाएं क्यों हांफती सी नाव है ते, नाव है तेरी ,
तिनका तिनका जोड़ से साँसे 
क्यों हांफती सी नाव है ते, नाव है तेरी,
उलटी बहती धार है तेरी धार है तेरी,
की अब कुछ अर जाये बंधू !
A rough English translation is as follows :

Against the rising waves your boat is helpless and tired,
Living one gasp at a tine, your boat is helpless and tired.
Though the currents are against you,
Its time to make a difference.

Naav Hai Teri Lyrics

Chadhti lehren laangh na paayen
Kyun haanpti si naav hai teri, naav hai teri
naav hai teri..
Tinka tinka jod ke saanse
Kyun naanpti si naav hai teri, naav hai teri
naav hai teri..
Ulti behti dhaar hai bairi, dhaar hai bairi
Ulti behti dhaar hai bairi, dhaar hai bairi
Ke ab kuch kar ja re bandhu..

Read more:
Chadhti lehren laangh na paayen
Kyun haanpti si naav hai teri, naav hai teri
naav hai teri..
Tinka tinka jod ke saanse
Kyun naanpti si naav hai teri, naav hai teri
naav hai teri..
Ulti behti dhaar hai bairi, dhaar hai bairi
Ulti behti dhaar hai bairi, dhaar hai bairi
Ke ab kuch kar ja re bandhu..

Read more:

I noticed that one of the boatman was dumb. However, he was pointing to the various points of interest and the cliffs and rocks with full of enthusiasm and energy. In spite of a physical handicap of being dumb, he was earning his livelihood. This scene can be perfectly captured with the opening lyrics of this song Naav. After these opening lyrics, there is a beautiful Sitar interlude and then the main portion of the song starts.

Another masterpiece of this soundtrack is Aazadiyan, my second favourite song.

The sitar interludes in this song stand true testimony to the genius of music composer Amit Trivedi.

The songs in this movie do not seem out of place and help to take the plot forward. In addition, they can be listened to independent of the movie.

In short, this movie takes the audience through a journey and we can relate to the main character. He faces a lot of adversities but comes out stronger in life.

After all, living life with positivity and full of energy is what it is all about, right?.

Life is a roller coaster - we've just got to ride it. These are not my words, but the lyrics of a popular song by Ronan Keating, a popular Irish artist and singer.

Udaan definitely is a must watch since  it is about the rollercoaster that is life. I would rate it at 9/10. Awaiting more such gems from the film fraternity !

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Forgotten Heroes.. Its time we remember them

Today is a very important date in the history of independent India. On this day in 1950, our constitution came into effect, and the dominion status that was given to India from 1947 ceased. India became a sovereign, secular democratic republic.

This seems like general knowledge to all of us. However, I came across a Youtube video in the channel "The Viral Fever", where youth in Delhi and Mumbai are asked some general knowledge questions about India's freedom struggle, and Republic Day. To my shock, there were quite a few who did not know these answers. Just have a look at the video below:

I  just hope that this was a publicity stunt, and that they were purposefully giving wrong answers. Its high time we remember our freedom fighters and leaders who sacrificed their life and career, to give us the India we have today. I will point out a few such souls who have faded in memory.

All of us celebrate 14th November as Children's Day, the birth anniversary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. But very few of us know that 5 days later, 19th November is the birth anniversary of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, one of the famous heroes in the first war of Independence of 1857. She was only 30 when she died in the battle. To commemorate 100 years of the 1857 revolt, a 15 paise stamp was issued in her name in 1957. Cut to 2014, what value does 15 paise have? Zilch !! I feel they should release another stamp, of a decent denomination in her name this year. This year also marks 400 years since the construction of the Jhansi Fort.

Coming to the more recent past, I will mention another leader who, inspite of making large contributions to Indian contemporary history, has not been given due recognition.

Three days ago, on January 23, was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's birth anniversary. He was a prominent leader in the freedom struggle who chose to make friends with Britain's enemies at that time, ie the Soviets, the Nazis and the Japanese to seek help for India's freedom. While in Japan, he trained a small army of soldiers called the Indian National Army (INA). With their help, his army attacked British India from the North East. Their plans, however were foiled. Netaji tried to escape to Japan but it is said that he was killed in a plane crash in 1945. However, this theory is widely speculated, and the mystery of his death has still not been solved. The Indian Government maintains a stubborn silence over it. Many inquiry commissions have come and gone, but the truth is still unknown. The Government must make all information and files related to the mystery of his death public so that the matter can once and for all be settled. It is sad that he could not be a part of post-independence nation building.

The Bharat Ratna, the most prestigious award in India, was conferred to him posthumously in 1992. However, the Supreme Court withdrew it later since it could not conclusively prove the fact that whether he was alive or not, Now, its been more than 110 years since he was born. Hence the probability of him being alive is highly unlikely. Keeping this in mind, I am of the opinion that we should award him posthumously and give him the recognition he deserves. 

Undoubtedly, there are many many more such heroes that deserve mention like Bhagat Singh, Chandrashkekar Azad, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak etc. However, for the sake of space constraints, I could to elaborate on these two leaders.

I came across these two movies on Youtube. The first one is a 1956 movie called "Jhansi Ki Rani", 

and the other one is a 3 hour movie made in 2004, called "Bose: The forgotten Hero". 

A book by Anuj Dhar , "India's biggest cover up" discusses in detail about the mystery surrounding Bose's death.

I would like to conclude this write up with a final video. This song is what India symbolizes, "Mile Sur Mera Tumhara" or "Unity in Diversity". The original video was created by Doordarshan in 1989. In this video, famous guitarist Baiju Dharmajan creates a Carnatic Rock instrumental version of the same.

"Mile Sur Mera Tumhara,
Jo Sur Bane Humara

Jaya He ! Jaya He ! Jaya He ! Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya He ~!"

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Mesmerising Karsh Kale

On a clear humid December evening in Mumbai a few months ago, I headed to the IITBombay  campus to attend one of the pronites (musical nights) of their cultural fest MoodI 2012. I had attended the concert of the previous night and was treated to a brilliant piece of classical music by Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. I had listened to some of Parndit Vishwa Mothan before, so I knew what was in store for me. This evening, however, was a totally unknown entity - Karsh Kale.

The name rang a bell somewhere and then I realized, oh yes that s one of  the default sounds in Windows Media player. I usually delete such audio files, thus I did not get a chance to listen to any of his music before.

The long and enduring wait began as a local band 'Desh Rag' did the opening act for the evening. They were quite good, with one of them covering and improvising the song 'Roja' on violin. After their performance was complete, the presenters announced the start of the Karsh Kale concert and I was in for a nice suprise,  since Karsh Kale was going to be performing with a Coke Studio set. I was thinking - Wow.! This is going to be one memorable concert, watching a Coke Studio performance live ...

The magic started soon after, with a hypnotic, almost mesmerizing tabla introduction by none other than Karsh Kale himself. The next two hours I was rooted to my position in the audience, watching the adept composer fuse different genres of music. The highlight of the performance was a mashup between Kajar Bin Kare, and Adele s Skyfall. There was a huge star cast of accompanying artists, from the popular Bollywood music composer Salim Merchant, and the well known signer Shilpa Rao, to less known guitar acts like Warren Mendonsa, and flutist Ajay Prasanna. The genre of rap was also given a due share with Benny Dayal rapping a few pieces in some compositions.

Two songs that blew my mind away was 'Shedding Skin' and 'Glorious' , these were the best memories of the evening. You can check out the Coke Studio versions of these songs , which is the original recording of the song.

Shedding Skin


The drumming by Jai Row Kavi is just exceptional in 'Glorious'. He has nailed it to perfection .. !

The scintillating performance was wrapped up with U2's 'City of Blinding Lights'. As I walked back from the open air auditorium towards the gate, though I was feeling tired, it was worth it. I had an amazing evening, and this surely would go down as one of the best concerts that I have ever attended. An evening really well spent !!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

My experiences shuttling between the Arctic and the Tropical Monsoon

This is a new blog I have started about general thoughts and my views about the place where I currently live, Finland. Many surveys have rated this countries as one of the best places in the world. The quality of life, health and education is one of the best. I am not going to debate about that. What sometimes baffles me is the transition one has to witness when taking a journey to my home , to Mumbai, one of the megacities of India.

From a city that boasts of a meagre population of just over 1 million  and a density of around 1000-2000 persons per sq km to enter another where there are 21 million people jostling for space, a mind-boggling 20000 persons per sq km. Now that's what is transition ! In less than 12 hours, you get transported from absolute calm and silence (and yes, you ll get to know what that really means here) to the non-stop humdrum of local trains. One train a minute , and still jam-packed, known as the super-dense and hyper-dense crunch loads.

Slowly and steadily, Indians /South Asians are making their presence felt in this remote Arctic corner of Europe. Staying in Finland for now close to 3 years, I have witnessed quite a lot of changes here. The number of Indians studying at Otaniemi campus has seen a steady increase, and we now have a small but rapidly growing community, which also has its own Facebook page.  A lot of Indian foodstuffs like spices, rice, pulses are available now in not one, but 4 Indian markets in two shopping centres in Espoo / Helsinki region. A few days ago, I received an ad as part of the newspaper, about a new restaurant. What stunned me  was that dishes like Muttar Paneer are a part of the menu at the restaurant , and these can be ordered by a phone call and the person delivers it at your doorstep. I ordered the same dish from there and was expecting the food to be just okay, but I was in for a surprise, as the food was really good.

So things are definitely changing here. What is further accelerating change is the super flight connectivity to India. Finnair now flies direct to Delhi from here, and the flying time, as compared to even European flights, is not much - just 6.5 to 7 hours. Its shorter than an overnight bus journey ! From Finland, the flight just leaves around dinner time and by 3 am Finnish time, or 6 30 am IST you are at Delhi, which is around 5000 km from here. Return flight leaves Delhi in the late mornings and by mid-afternoon 3 pm you are at Helsinki. Time just flies past in the flight. 6-6.5 hours is just enough for you to have a meal, and sleep for 3-4 hours. Thats about it !

Undoubtedly, the best part of being in Finland is the time difference between here and India. While most Indian students end up in the US, its at least 11 hours behind from India, or more I guess. However, the time difference between Finland and India is just 3.5 hours in winter and with DST (Daylight Saving Time) its just 2.5 hours. Now thats what I call awesome ! I sometimes call up home at 7 in the evening, and my parents are just about to go to sleep. It gives me a great feeling, as I and my parents are in the same part of the day (either its morning vs early afternoon, or early evening vs late evening in this case). All that I can say in the end is "Suomi on hyv'a paikka' , which roughly translates to 'Finland is a nice place'. All izz well here !