Of Chetkins and bhavlis with “Aapli Mansa”

It was well past midnight, and she had never really been out so late alone. As she turned the corner on the deserted lane, she could hear her muffled breath under the scarf. “No dogs yet! Maybe it won’t be as bad as I thought”, she said, reassuring herself. Suddenly, she notices some movement at a distance, beneath the trees. Thinking she’d get a clearer look further, she sped. As she got closer, a figure emerged out of shadows and sent a shiver down her spine. She, almost instantly, stopped. Ragged clothes, grey hair well below the shoulders, covering the side of her face. The woman was moving in a rather odd manner; unaware, but firm steps. She had something in her hand; wooden, uniquely shaped, made of different colors. The curiosity was soon replaced by absolute disbelief. She was now terrified, afraid of moving or even making a sound. She wanted to turn back, and she would if her dad wasn’t waiting for her at the bus stop. “What if she turns, snaps and grabs me just when I’m about to cross her!”. This thought kept playing in her head over and over. Against her better judgment, she finally decided to go through. She pulled the throttle making a loud sound and began moving towards the woman; slowly, taking deep breaths.”

I grabbed the rope I was hanging by and pulled myself up to hear what happened next, when Ravina screamed “Ti bhavli warti ali re bagha..!!”

I reckon this is how our beloved Bhavli would describe the story she heard and the awesomeness she witnessed (I looked for an alternative, but no other word describes it better).

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Spotted! Hanging.. listening.. looking.. laughing!

This would eventually end up being be one of the countless “ghost stories” and experiences shared.  Even as Himanshu urged everyone to stop the torture, and Kalyan expressed his lack of belief in anything paranormal, no one listened to the poor souls; and you couldn’t blame them either. Who doesn’t like ghost stories! all the better if it’s at 2 am on the terrace in a rather silent and secluded place. It was one of those times when you realize how important the simple things in life are. Surrounded by mountains and lush greenery, the place was picturesque. Or as Sayali would describe it “Areyy kadakk!”

IMG_20151128_123211To be honest, I wasn’t completely thrilled about the idea when Sayali invited us. The long long ride after work didn’t sound very appealing. But, I am so glad i did. So, after almost 2 hours of driving in the dark, I was convinced someone was going to jump out of the bushes, drag me to a hipster area, and I’d spend the rest of my life dancing around fire. But, I survived that.

A few of us came late and were greeted with parathas. Yum!! Apparently, Satya isn’t good with numbers and we ended up with extra food (20 points to Satya!!) Not that anyone was complaining. At least not until he decided to make tea; everyone sure complained then. Manasvee, however, ably stepped in and fixed it.

Then came the moment I’d dreaded. It was like when you don’t do your homework and make a puppy face, hoping the teacher would let it go. So, i smiled. But, that did not work out too well, with what felt like a million eyes glued on me. Before I knew, I had to do first impressions. and so it began..

Satya- I cannot get over the fact that you’re nothing like the numerous pethis I’ve met all through my life. You’re also one of the few people who don’t fan-girl over the iPhone; and you know what chetkins and bhavlis actually stand for *fist pump*

Manasvee- I really love your name.

Shivani- The kind that says something and then wonders, “Did i just say that out aloud?” *high five* to that; and you love Coldplay and Harry Potter. *tears*

Tanvi- Our first interaction was you asking “Khara cha CA ahe ka?” :’) I’m never forgetting that! But honestly, people would find it hard to believe that you do the designing and all that fancy stuff by yourself. Also, you helped with the chaat even though you don’t like cooking. 20 points to TT (Sorry i won’t use this again..in this para :D)

Pranav- We did the secret non-maharashtrian fist-pump. So, that was cool (Not that we’re racists or anything.. or that we know why the hell we did that)

DJ- I did say you’re my fav, but calling me sophisticated brought you down the list. But, the way you sing is..Wah! I’m a fan. Such thumkas and latkas and jhatkas.

Himya- Someone who tries very hard to look cold and disinterested, but moments later sheds a tear as dj cut the cake and people wished him goodbye. That describes you perfectly.

(Yes we had a heavenly chocolate cake to wish dj all the success and blondes in his time away; this was done to the sound of an oddly-rhymed “all the best djjj“song.)

Sameer- Someone who values family and principles highly. Also, you cannot tell a ghost story. Maybe you’re just too harmless to sound scary.

Bhushan- Stand up guy. His snores can be deafening.

Sayali- You’re like a bag full of emojis. We should get your expressions trademarked. Your love for cutting onions is strange (more on that later).

Ravina- Okay IPD, let’s skip the obvious. I’m sure everyone’s tired of hearing good things about you. But, you are pretty good at taking stoned selfies. And if I ever wake up and decide to walk through a new town without a plan in mind, you’ll be the first person I call.

Okay so, this is not what I did say that day.. but what I would have said, if I wasn’t so awkward around people when meeting them for the first time. I would have also been spared of having to write this. (I hope i got the sequence of people correct) Moving on..

IMG-20151129-WA0000I’ve always believed that one of the best ways to show your love is to put it on a plate. (Okay I don’t say that, the people on Masterchef do.) It was now time for some midnight chaat! Sayali and me began making, determined to make a lip-smacking treat; albeit with limited resources. So, we improvised. Like, smashing pickle to replace chilly chutney (*high five* on that genius move) Bhushan and Tanvi volunteered to help, although I’m sure Tanvi will never ask again.

Life tip: 1. If you ever need whipped curd, Bhushan is the go-to guy. 2. Tanvi can chop onions really quick. 3. If you ever need someone to just watch, laugh and chat while you cook, go Shivani! 4. Sayali WILL NOT stop chopping until every single piece of the onion looks alike, even if it stops looking like an onion. A special mention to Kalyan and Pranav, who kept telling us how good it was.

Where there’s food, there is Music; and music there was.. so much music! At one point, a few of us even thought “OH GOD STOP”. So, it all began with playing antakshari. Sing a song, wait for the other team, that kind of a thing.. like the good old days. A few songs into it, there was a “screw this let’s sing for the other team” vibe all around. Before we knew, everyone was singing together any song and every song that came to mind. Right from ‘Kajrare‘ to ‘Zau dya na ghari‘ and from ‘Jai Jai Maharashtra‘ to ‘Kabira’. Half hour into it, my mind was telling me “Too much activity, cannot handle”. It seems strange, but Himanshu has a half decent voice. The guy can sing.

Right from Ravina and her tireless energy to Satya’s sudden bursts; DJ with his typical adaas and Sayali with her subtle notes to embarrass everyone around her. The high point of the evening (or the low) was watching Kalyan sing. If he wasn’t sitting there the whole time, I could have sworn he was high. His expressions, the voice and the crackle when he laughed. Pranav lip-synced through the entire thing, and would suddenly scream the words he knew. This went on for a while. One song, after the other. Tanvi was smart enough to go to sleep early. After a while, Shivani and Sameer also dozed off either side of the crazy group of people who refused to shut up. Ravina seemed to be on a mission; to not sleep, or let anyone in sight sleep. And then, lights out! Total darkness, but that didn’t deter anyone. No sir.

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I LOVE THIS PIC! and the expressions! How everyone is doing their bit to make the picture look perfect.

Sayali and Ravina, finally getting tired, used Manasvee as a pillow to rest. Poor thing obliged AND sang along. Had Shivani not been already asleep, I could bet she too would have been on the list. Soon after, Kalyan made ‘arey wah” tea to help everyone fight off the cold and stay on course in this pursuit of being up all night.

“This is the life”, someone said. It really was. Open wide sky, stars glittering, chill in the wind and all of our faces bathed in moonlight. It couldn’t have been any better, really. There is something about late nights. It just makes everything look so much beautiful, so much better.

We eventually stopped; not for the lack of songs, or the loss of will power but because a little subject had grabbed everyone’s attention. Ghosts, bhavlis, paranormal experiences, chetkins.. name them at your pleasure. The stories were countless; From the ‘Yete ka’ woman to crazy one in Satya’s neighbourhood.. from the guy who kicks anyone who sleeps in the middle of the mosque to the turning palkhi. Everyone was completely hooked. Pranav moved from one to other, listening to every bit of every discussion. Kalyan was determined to have a paranormal experience of his own, as was I. Bhushan and me laid back, just listening to it all. We could go on like this forever. Nothing could beat us now, except hunger; and it finally did. A few of us decided to curl up in their blankets and catch up on some beauty sleep. Others came down looking to find some comfort in food.

It was now time for “5 baje wali Maggi”! (or Ramen, as the loyals would quickly point out). Sayali, continuing to be the gracious host, made the much-anticipated Ramen. It, however, did not live up to the expectations and disappointed a few, who wanted a different flavor. This happened over a rather intriguing discussion, where Satya shared some valuable insight into pigs and orgasms; and they weren’t 2 different topics either. Yep! Anyway, moving on..

And then for everyone’s fav part.. Pics! Sameer had slept AGAIN, as had Ravina, who finally let up and was deep asleep. It was only fair she missed this, since she probably has more selfies than all of us put together. Manasvee dragged a few of us out. And so it began. Clouds, water, mountains, fog. It was picture-perfect, or rather selfie-perfect (if that’s not a term, it should be). Be it DJ covered in a shawl like a 70 year, or Tanvi with her just-brushed teeth.. Himanshu with a different pose every time and Shivani with the infectious smile. The calm and peace of the night was now replaced by smiles and energy all around. Sayali, quite strangely, was fascinated with the dew on the grass and kept stomping around.

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“What i like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.” ~K. Lagerfeld

Every picture tells a story; and it was a pretty damn good one too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have moments that you’ll never forget, the ones you’ll cherish. This was one of those. I’ve always believed that beneath all of the things we surround ourselves with, at the end of the day.. good food, good music and good people around us; that’s all we really need. Everything else is just baggage. And this story had it all.. the night had it all. Okay I do realize that this has gone far far too long now.

(P.S.- So, I was supposed to write this up that week itself, but i thought it would look a little senti :P  but, when Diglet coined the term ‘am’, it was just the encouragement I needed. Also, now you can’t say “arey Mayank bolla” when I do speak. This should shut you all up for the next year.)

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“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scars to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.” ~C. Palahniuk.

May each one of you reading this never have to worry about the scars.

~ Amor Sin Cera ~

The Beautiful Game

26 May 1999. Camp Nou packed with over 90,000 anxious hearts. Millions glued worldwide. Manchester United were a goal down as the clock moved into 3 minutes of extra time. That’s all that was left. They would miss the Holy Grail, after having come agonizingly close. The dream of completing a ”treble” of titles was slipping away with each passing moment. UEFA President Johansson was on his way down to the pitch to present the trophy, already decorated with Bayern ribbons. Distraught fans cheered the team on amidst a plethora of ecstatic, but nervous Bayern fans as Beckham went up to take the corner. What followed was 2 minutes of nerve-wrecking, nail-biting and absolutely astonishing piece of football. As the clock read 92:17, the commentary followed, ‘‘Beckham.. Into Sheringham.. And Solskjaer has WON IT.”

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A banner displaying the legendary words during a match at Old Trafford

As the ball sailed into the net, a sea of red fans erupted as the world witnessed one of the greatest comebacks the game had seen. Those words would go on to have a sense of history with the Manchester United loyals. Fans and players roared with uninhibited joy as Bayern fans and players alike were stunned with utter disbelief. A journalist described it as a professional nightmare, already having run the headlines of a Manchester United defeat. Drama! Emotion! Frenzy! The game once again got everyone around the world on their feet and in tears. Alex Ferguson said, the now legendary words, ”Football. Bloody Hell.” Yes, indeed. Bloody Hell. The opposing side, still trying to make sense of what had transpired, described it as wicked and cruel. Some fans termed it ”the worst 2 minutes” of their lives.

A friend, who doesn’t really follow football, thinks that the fans tend to hype the excitement. Do they really? Did your boyfriend/girlfriend ever seem reluctant to go out on a weekend to watch their favorite team? Or perhaps, a colleague who can’t take his eyes off the phone trying to stay updated? Yep! Matchday! If you have, then you’ll know that there is no such thing as ”just a game.” Never has been. Bill Shankly famously said, ”Some people believe Football is a matter of life and death. I can assure you it’s much much more than that.’‘ Life and death? That is definitely taking it a step too far, isn’t it? Well, not for some at least. In the 1994 WC, Colombia faced a do-or-die game against the hosts USA. The players claimed they were warned that their lives were at stake. They probably didn’t realize it until they lost the game. Escober, primarily guilty for the crucial goal, was confronted at a local bar. The person screamed ”GOALLLL!!” before putting 12 bullets into the player. He was sentenced to 43 years. Yes, not a proud moment for the game by any means. The incident grabbed plenty of unwanted and unpleasant attention, serving evidence to the ever-increasing belief that football fans could be extreme.

Recent studies show that one of every four fans considered football as one of the most important things in life.

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Borussia Dortmund fans, amongst some of the most loyal, unleashed a massive display ahead of the Champions League tie, showcasing the words, “On the trail of the lost cup.”

             So.. What is so different about football and sets it apart as the beautiful game? It obviously has a greater reach, a wider audience and billionaires willing to spend insane amounts helping it. What else? Anticipation; Loyalty; Identity crisis; what exactly is it? I think it’s larger than that. It may stem from the fact that it is an analogue of our own place in the world, if not a mirror-like resemblance to it. Simply put, trying to find a way amidst forces of uncertainty, which we can neither control nor explain. The chaos and the unpredictability; Knowing the goal, but still riddled with the question if desire and intent is enough to get past the line? Or do we need a stroke of luck? Our life resembles football in more ways than you can imagine. Medical studies now prove that watching sports helped patients deal with anxiety, depression and even drug withdrawal.

I recently found out that a friend used football, more specifically Tottenham Hotspurs, to get over his personal demons and I can see it worked wonders. It began with limiting his moments of happiness to their success, followed with phases of emotional turbulence. Eventually, it was the game that triggered the movement, leading him to the epiphany where he realized he did not have to tie his happiness to the game; Ironic.

Now that I think of it, for me, it is a means of an escape. An escape from just about anything, the thought of which takes away the momentary peace we so desperately crave for. It may seem trite and irrelevant, but it has often helped me find refuge amidst the most difficult and calamitous moments- a magic I thought only Music could conjure. To many people, those 90 minutes are sacrosanct and provide comfort and occasionally, a memory one can hold on to; a memory you can reminisce at a time, when everything seems to be going wrong and you anxiously look around for something to help you through, although momentarily, the nuisances of life. It may not be ideal. Some may suggest it’s absurd and even obsessive. But if you’ve ever gone through that phase of life when your family and friends tirelessly try to cheer you up, but nothing, and I mean nothing, seems to work, you will know that you need something to obsess about.

I often take solace in sports. I bask in glory with elated joy, and frantically support in tough times. I would like to believe others do the same. That’s the only way you could put in context some of the extreme and perceived irrational behaviour from the fans.

The game never ceases to amaze. There have always been moments which have stood out, for better or worse. Moments that changed the game and transcended into the lives of millions. Be it the Magic Of Istanbul or Carlos Alberto’s crescendo in the 1970 WC; Or Zidane’s farewell game, marred by a moment of madness by a legend, who for me epitomized the beauty and elegance of the game more than anyone did. It can be best described by the Hillsborough Tragedy, which brought together different people- socially and politically. The fight moved beyond the bereaved families of the 96 victims. United by unimaginable grief and appalling treatment, families and friends endeavoured on the long path to seek justice. Together, they kept the flame alive in the darkest times, a disgrace that changed the face of football forever.

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The Hillsborough Tragedy Support Group went far and beyond to help bring long-awaited justice to the 96 families.

25 years on, the game has managed to shed the hooligan image attached to it. Football has come of age. Be its wide appeal to all corners of the world, or using football as a means for addressing a variety of issues through a platform which takes form of a global festival. The social and economic impact cannot be denied, and it will only grow in reputation and reach as the show moves to Brazil in 2014.

Not too long ago, the players were referred to as slaves. To that, the great Bobby Charlton said, ‘‘Some people tell me that we professional soccer players are slaves. Well, if this is slavery, give me a life sentence.”

There will always be moments which might remind us of the ugly side, but it also goes to make the beautiful legacy stand out. The game is not perfect. It was never meant to be. It’s supposed to make you forget and cheer; to cry and bravely applaud; to dance without any inhibitions; to drown yourself in the beauty of that moment and let go; to celebrate everything that life stands for. It is, rightly, The Beautiful Game.

Edgar Davis said, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” 

I haven’t written about any of the artists who have graced the game with their elegance, but I hope to do it soon. What do you think? Is it deserving of being called as “The Beautiful Game?”

~Amor Sin Cera~

Sometimes, All we need is Perspective..

It seems apt. To start this little venture into blogging with the one thing that I think is absolutely essential for every one of us, to have the sought after peace of mind; which also ironically, happens to be something that is missing today..!

So.. Ever look at a person and have that annoying feeling run through your body and into your eyes? Ever wonder why you find some songs more pathetic and sad than everyone else around you? Or even.. How possibly could two people look at a wonderful couple in love and end up with two completely different opinions! I mean, either of them has to be an idiot with absolutely no sense of judgment, right..? Well, not really. Turns out, there is an explanation for that too. Perception..! To quote Aldous Huxley,

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of Perception”

Know what he means? THAT, by the way, was one of the simpler explanations i could find. Let me tell you a little incident. Harry, after a tiff with a couple colleagues, tells me,

 “I am not interested in what people perceive me as.. If you don’t take time out to learn about me, your perception is not my problem.”

 Well, he is right. Perception is not reality. Facts are reality. But, Harry is deluded if he thinks everyone is going to take time out to learn facts about him. Not today, when for lack of time and sake of convenience, all people care about is an executive summary; Be it an investment, a situation or even a person for that matter. It is up to us to capture someone’s attention and try to shape those perceptions. But Alas, Harry isn’t interested in that. My point is, what ACTUALLY HAPPENS are facts. Not the truth. Truth is what you think of what happened. It’s your version of the story. For instance, (before lunch) “I haven’t moved off my desk, working on the computer. My hands are clean” — Perception. Truth (for you). Your keyboard is likely to have more germs than your toilet seat. — Fact. Reality. What we do, conveniently, is emphasize on just the parts we want to, leaving out the rest and assigning them meanings. We assume it’s the truth. We refuse to see beyond OUR PERCEPTION.

Look at these two arrows. Which horizontal line is longer?

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They are exactly the same. However, the top one looks longer for two reasons. The optical illusion tricking us into it; and more importantly, our willingness to assume things and jump to conclusions.

It probably feels like a twisted concept; Not because it’s rocket science, but because it’s hard to feel and harder to realize. Wars have been fought and millions killed for lack of ability to have the perception and understand that EVERYONE thinks differently. Some argue for war, some against it. Is war right? Am not here to answer that. What i want to convey is the fact that truth is fluid. Do not perceive things based on how they come across to you. We fill in a lot of blanks in our mind. When we are not sure, or have an incomplete perception, we conveniently fill the blanks. Something tragic or life-changing happens to the best of us. You can either choose to throw away the good in your life, assuming the worst for the future; or you can use it as a stepping stone to inspire yourself fight harder for what’s lost.

So, what does this all come to..? Do not make decisions based on your version of the story. Do not label people around you and situations around you without questioning yourself and knowing their version of the story. Perception is just a state of mind, and don’t let your state of mind decide the truth for the rest of your life. The eyes only see what the mind thinks it can comprehend. It may not be the best for you. I have always believed that everything in our life begins and ends with a choice we make.

At the end of the day, what you see is what you get. It depends on what you choose to see. The darkness.. or the ray of light on the horizon. The darkness may not even be the truth, or even what you want. I’ll put an end to your misery by quoting Hans Margolius, which somehow seems fitting,

“Only in quiet water, things mirror themselves undisturbed. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.”

Give it a chance! The songs may not seem that pathetic again. Things will make much more sense. And everything you thought you had lost might not seem that distant anymore. Something to think about..?

~ Amor Sin Cera ~

Namaste WordPress :)

Hey guys.. I’m just a guy who thinks a lot..! I figured there must be plenty of people out here who must do the same. So, am here just to share the misery. I’ll probably write about some of the gazillion thoughts that keep gracing my mind. People usually don’t comprehend what i think and the reasons why i think of it, hence the name “my amusing musing”.. Also ‘coz my first choice “musings of my mind” was already snapped up. So, yeah.. Looking forward to putting up something very soon.. Lets be miserable together..! ;)

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