Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Tragedy of Trainings !!!!

I just came out of a two hours corporate training specially designed for technical consultants on a complex technical subject. Neither I had the least bit of interest in the subject nor was the trainer remotely intelligent to make the session a little interesting. Forget about the knowledge on the subject but the trainer was lacking in the basic communication skills and English vocabulary to make any significant contribution. First there were some projector problems which led to a delay of 15 mins. Later, the connection was slow and every screen took 20-25 seconds to open. I was bored to the limits within the first 5 mins of lecture itself when finally it started. I tried hard to concentrate but the speaker, I thought, had sworn to harass all the trainees with his vague examples and irrelevant references. And I could realize from the facial expressions (and the browsers open on the screens) was that most of the trainees were enduring it as badly as me. It was pathetic.
I thought about all the training sessions which I had attended since I started working, all were the same with a little bit of a difference here and there. People seem to harbor some basic rules about trainings like:

· Trainings are meant for the sole motive of completing the yearly mandatory quota of learning.

· Feedbacks are to be always given in positive light irrespective of the quality of training.

· For trainings conducted across locations with shared screens and telephone bridge calls; the speaker phones should be kept on mute and time should be utilized for chatting, joking and gossiping.

· This rule applies for the training coordinator and team leads as well.

· No questions to be asked to the trainer. This is to avoid the extra time that would be required if the discussion stretched beyond the planned schedule.

Leave aside any intellectual discussions; these trainings are a part of those mundane and unavoidable activities. The situation is more or less the same in most of the global IT companies.
Imagine about the millions of dollars which the IT companies are spending on training their associates. Efforts and money are invested in not only getting the best of infrastructure (read hardware, licensed software, high end training rooms) but also in getting best trainers from outside. In spite of all this, if the general attitude towards training and knowledge among the employees is so demeaning, then companies need to do a thorough revamp of their strategies first hand. I wonder what happens to the learning instincts of a person once he starts working. Is he so bored of learning already or does he becomes so perfect that he doesn’t need any more knowledge. Some of them might be genuine in attending sessions, but there are hardly any who can apply the knowledge in their work confidently. There is huge gap between what exactly is needed and what is taught. It is strange that no one seems to have done anything about this yet.
I remember our lectures in college. We didn’t have the high quality training rooms; neither did we have some world class, highly paid trainers. What we had was a decent but intelligent lecturer who loved to teach and who could make the session interesting. But it was enough and the knowledge was abundant. In the race to achieve and show everything high class, we are somewhere losing the basic interest in learning. To expect an effective and creative solution in such an artificial environment is a difficult task. But I hope that someday, companies realize this and try to make a change. I am all willing to be a part of that change.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Aaj phir aapki kami si hai..!!!

The first time I ever heard Jagjit Singh was by chance when dad got one of his albums “Silsilay”. A rare composition and a rarer association. It introduced me to the mesmerizing world of ghazals which were far away from the traditional urdu genre I was so used to since childhood. No harmonium, no ‘taal’ instruments – just strings, violin, piano and an occasional flute. But it was one of those albums which could instantly transform your state of mind and bring peace. I was fascinated. I was hooked onto it for around one year.
The next was when again dad got Jagjit Singh’s first album with his wife Chitra – the Unforgetable. It was one of the magical ones with all the eccentricity of the traditional urdu ghazals. But the voice of Jagjit Singh was so overpowering that even the simplest of the songs worked wonders. I was hooked again. The cassette didn’t last more than six months due to excessive playing.
From there started what I call “A life-long love affair” with the ghazals and the maestro’s creations. I still have most of his ghazals in my mobile and they will always be.
Here is the list of some of my personal favorites:
1) Ahista Ahista: The Unforgettable – This still remains one of his most respected and appreciated ghazals. The tune, the lyrics, the piano in between and most important – the voice – everything is amazing
2) Koi paas aya savere savere: The unforgettable - The rhythm of the song is like never heard before. Its difficult. Its heavy but its lingers in the mind for a long time.
3) Shyam se aankh mei name si hai: Marasim – This is one of the most loved and cherished albums of all times. It took Jagjit and Gulzar six years to compose this album
4) Aankho mei jal raha hai kyu: Marasim – there is a prose recited by Gulzar before this song. That and the tune of the song make it an incredibly mesmerizing composition.
5) Zhuki Zhuki si nazar: Arth – Needless to say anything else. Its overwhelming.
6) Sach ye hai bekaar hamein: Silsilay – I still don’t know which instrument he has used which keeps on playing in the background . .feels like falling of drops in a pond of water. The lyrics is awesome.
7) Woh khat ke purze uda raha tha: Marasim - Use of just two guitars – one higher and another lower notes, a flute and a Sitar. Nothing else. Incomparable.
8) Hazaron Khwahishein : Mirza Ghalib – One of the quintessential urdu poetry and impeccable music.
9) Tumko Dekha to: Saath Saath – The first one. Peaceful. Really a Ghana Saaya
10) Kya khoya Kya paaya: Samvedna – The coming together of two legends. Jagjit Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpeyee. Hear it and cry for hours.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Wife's Plea . . .

Dear Hubby,
It has nearly been ages since I talked to you about us. In the entire process of getting married, I felt we talked about people and situations around us rather than just about ‘us’. So, let me start by thanking you for marrying me. By taking the sacred vows with you, I am whole heartedly indebted to you for this entire life and also the other lives to come (if they ever do). Now that we are deeply into our blessed wedded life, I wish to tell you some things straight from the heart

1)We are married now and I am staying with you for good. Please stamp this in your mind, heart and thoughts that no matter what happens I am not leaving you in any damn situation. Though there might be millions of people whom I adore and appreciate for their sheer mettle and guts; it is you with whom I find my peace of mind and love. So you have no choice but to bear me till the last breadth I take. I am here to stay forever.
2)I love working. Whether that means working in the office, washing the dishes, cooking, laundry, dusting, cleaning, anything. Especially I love to do it for you. I am honestly not complaining for it anytime in the present or future. But its only when I am dead tired or when all the other options fail miserably that I expect you to just ‘pitch in’ and help me. Otherwise, just a caring comment of appreciation is fine. I will do the rest myself. I really don’t want you to help me every single day. Really.
3)We really don’t need to do every single thing together. I am not at all angry with you if you feel like spending time with your laptop, or mobile, or newspaper, or anything. I am happy to read my own book and enjoy the time. Don’t be guilty. Don’t be awkward. Along with supporting each other’s interests, we need to grow as individuals as well. Isnt it ??
4)It will take time for me to do everything perfectly. In the process, if I fail sometimes here and there, please don’t taunt or shout. It feels like all the efforts so far are wasted and I will have to start afresh from the scratch and it hurts badly too. I know, u don’t like lots of my things as well and you can frankly tell them to me at night, when we are cozying in the bed. The message sinks in better this way.
5)Talk. Whatever you feel or have it in your mind, just say it loud. Even if you feel like swearing, teasing, loving, arguing, any damn thing from the smallest to the largest, just say it aloud and clear. It is too much of an effort to keep you asking and then keep guessing when you don’t speak. I am not going to get hurt and start crying just because you are being honest. Angry may be . .but just for a minute. But its worth talking straight away than keeping quiet. I think of millions of terrible things if you don’t tell me. You know that can spoil our entire day (and night as well).
6)I understand all your dreams. I really do. And I wish and pray and hope from the bottom of my heart that you achieve all of them. I am really sorry if it was not conveyed to you through my actions. So here I am stating it clearly. I will support you in each and every dream you chase to the fullest.
7)I genuinely care and respect all the people who matter to you. I may not agree with some of their actions and thoughts or may get bored sometimes. But I think that’s ok. No one is perfect. I care for them as much as you do. After all they are mine now as well. Right ???
8)I like to do my own things. So if I do certain things without consulting you or discussing with you, it doesn’t mean I don’t trust you or don’t respect your thoughts. Its just that I am used to doing things in a certain way and will take time to mould the other way. I promise soon enough you will be annoyed by the number of things I ask you. But till that time, just ignore me if I don’t listen to you sometimes. No doubt, this also applies to me. I will never question anything you do without telling me. I trust you. Completely.
9)Its not easy for me to let go of my parents and home so easily and immediately. If sometimes I do give a little more preference to my parents, please let it be. They have been my everything till you came. Its difficult to just de-prioritize them . .just like that !!!!
10)I love you. I really really really do love you more than my life. The hugs, the silly names, the happiness, the fights, the talks, the food . .everything is a testimony to our love. No matter what happens and however badly we fight, love is there to stay. Its when I am under your arms at night and you cuddle up next to me in the morning – warm, peaceful and happy, I realize its true strength.

Finally, this letter is still not done completely. I will find many more things to tell you in the years to come. Till that time . . . . . .

With lots of love

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bahulichya Lagnachi Goshta

This is the story of my wedding.
Written by my dad, this includes the story of the entire process, the preparations, the people, the incidences, the fun, the jokes, the eleventh hour confusions.
We in the family enjoyed it a lot. . i hope its funny enough for everyone as well.
Enjoy !!!

Proust Questionnaire

I love answering questions which make me think. I found this Proust questionnaire somewhere on the net. Lets see how do I fare in it. . .
What is your idea of happiness?
The idea keeps on changing. All those clich├ęs about getting in the first rain, the roses, the first kiss, the cup of coffee at midnight makes me happy. People, places, weather, clothes, children is a sign of happiness as well. In spite of this, the greatest thing to give me happiness is the idea that I can be happy on my own. I do not need to depend on anything or anyone to make me happy. I can be happy anyways just like that. I believe that the greatest happiness lies in my ability to be alone.
What is your greatest fear?
To be non-productive or futile in any of my work. Life has given me so much in terms of knowledge, love and care. There is no time when I don’t think of giving it back to the people I care. I would die if I feel anything I am doing is worthless or I am not being productive enough. I am always searching for something to focus on so that I can bring out my knowledge, experience or wisdom in some form or other.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Sourav Ganguly. Of course he is already a history now.
Which living person do you most admire?
My Maid. In fact all maids. Hats off to them. I always wonder how they find the courage to clean other people’s dirt and shit everyday with such dedication.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Being non experimental. I love my own comfort zone and rarely do I think of getting out of it and trying new things. It has cost me lots in terms of work and relationship. I am scared of even hitting some wrong keys on my computer or taking some different turn while driving home. I just don’t like to change.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Evening 5-7 pm, a cool breeze, balcony with a view of a hill or vast expanse of green land, a bean bag, a hot coffee and an excellent book.
Afternoon 2-4, a heavy downpour outside with lightening and all, a warm bed and a cozy blanket, a full meal with a chocolate cake desert, a 2 hour afternoon siesta
What is your favorite journey?
Anyone which starts by evening 5-5.30 pm and ends at 10-10.30. And which allows me to have the window seat by the car or the train or the flight.
Who is your favorite artist?
It has to be Gulzar. His words spill magic every time I read them.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Love. It has been the most talked about and most misunderstood virtue of all times. Love was, is and will be there everywhere in its over encompassing forms all over. Period.
On what occasion do you lie?
When I feel my privacy is being threatened or someone is getting too personal or too much inside my mind.
When I do lots of shopping and I don’t wanna let anyone know.
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
My broad forehead. I would have looked much better with a shorter one.
Which living person do you most despise?
All who don’t let go of things or emotions. People who hold on to bitter thoughts, grudges or hatred.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Sahi. I mean – seriously. Full too.
What is your greatest regret?
That I was not born in Mumbai, that I didn’t opt for a journalism degree after my HSC, that I still don’t have enough courage to leave IT and pursue my dreams in writing.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
What is your present state of mind?
Happy of course. I am always happy no matter what.
How would you like to die?
At the age of 65 when I am still very much healthy and active, peacefully in my sleep with the most content smile on face.
What is your favorite motto?
-: All our happiness comes from the ability to be alone :-

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ten Things Worth Living !!!

Yesterday I came across an article by noted film maker Pritish Nandy. He had written about life and things which make it worth living. How true, I thought that we never think about the small facts of life which keep our spirit alive throughout. According to him, he has made a list of ten things which he finds his reasons to be alive and ticking. Going by his this method, I decided to make a similar list for myself. Its so easy, just a 10 mins work – I thought. But when I actually got down doing it – I couldn’t think of even two of them. After a lot of scrapping and brain storming – I finally got down to the following 10 which I think everyone could relate to –

1) The morning news papers -
This may sound a bit unusual but I find this piece of paper as the most important thing of the entire day. Humans, I think, are here to grow and growth always comes from mind. Newspaper in the morning is my window to the world outside – to absorb, to learn, to understand and to think. It gives a healthy fodder for my mind to process throughout the day.

2) A mug full of milk –
This is yet another ordinary substance which makes life worth living. Imagine after a night’s long sleep, the first thing you put into your starved stomach is sweetened, thick milk topped with cream. It is and absolute bliss. Period.

3) Weathers -
Now people living in places with extreme weather can relate with me. The falling of leaves in autumn, the initial cold winds of the winter, the greenery of the rains, the smell of the newly grown grass, the fresh vegetables from winter. I have experienced this from close quarters and is really something worth it. One just cannot ignore the taste of a new raw mango and especially when it is plucked secretly from a neighbors’ courtyard. I will live again and again to enjoy it.

4) Travel –
Imagine sitting in a train’s sleeper compartment by a window seat, or in a car by the window seat. Soft breeze pass by you and if it’s the night outside you are altogether taken to a different world. I feel like life is such a long journey at such times. Villages, jungles, barren lands pass by and one thinks about life in similar terms – past, present and future. The stars, the trees, the road, the rivers and the lakes – all come together and you become a part of the vast universe. It is serene, it is divine.

5) Books –
Books are my God. I am wholeheartedly indebted to all those great and incredible souls who had the courage, perseverance and patience to write all those highly amusing pieces of knowledge. I read like a maniac and I read again and again. Places like crossword, landmark and odyssey are like temples for me. I would die to live long just for reading books.

6) Movies, music, paintings – Arts in general.
Do I need to elaborate anymore? Arts are like nourishment for one’s mind. It gives creativity, imagination and enriches life. Definitely worth a life.

7) Acknowledgement, acceptance, appreciation –
An appreciation mail from a client, an encouraging pat on the back from dad, a happy look of acceptance in the eyes of a loved one, a comment from a teacher for you hard work, a clap by your team after a match win – all these form ever lasting memories to be cherished for the entire life. Appreciation is the single factor which makes you work harder and heart always has a craving for acceptance from the loved ones. It is worth living again and again.

8) People –
A distant cousin who shared pranks with you in childhood, a best friend whose face pokes into your conscience whenever you pass any of the numerous tea and snacks ADDAs spread all over the city, the thought of that one special person when you held hands, grandma with her wrinkled face but the world’s most beautiful smile, your first child – two hours old in the world but who has already filled your life with all the joys that a life has, mom and dad smiling encouragingly as you go for the board exam. Sheer bliss to be alive and living.

9) Morning 3 am and a mug of hot steaming coffee -
Its when you are working on an important project, or studying for the exams next day or it’s a friends night out or its just a girly gossip session throughout the night. Coffee tastes different. Its sweeter and its effect lasts longer.

10) The face –
You wake up in the morning after a bad dream, you open your eyes and turn to your side and you see the love of your life – you spouse cuddled next to you – happy, still and peaceful. What else could you ask for ?? I know – just another chance to live it up like this again.

That’s it. That’s life worth living for me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shobhaa Atya

The most preliminary memories I have about Shobhaa atya are about her coming to work in hot summer afternoons clad in dingy sarees. She was a maid by profession, a Muslim by religion but one of the liveliest people by heart I have ever seen. Tangled hair tied in a coarse bun, stained teeth due to constant chewing of beetle leaves, soorma in her eyes and the saree pulled-up way above her stomach – she resembled some “daain” or the witch from old age children stories. Even her tongue was not very sweet as she had a very vernacular accent mix of hindi, Marathi and urdu. But she had distinctively compassionate look in her eyes which made her human and famous among the kids. She called my dad as “dada” or big brother and that way she loved me as her niece.

My grandma (aaji) was a staunch jain old woman and she had strict rules about the general cleanliness and behavior at home. In spite of that, she had no reservations in having Shobhaa atya as a household help. Often, aaji would rant at Shobhaa atya for taking uncalled leave or coming late but many a times I also saw both of them sitting together for a “Paan” session after work. Shobhaa atya worked for lots of homes nearby and she brought lots of hot and breaking news to aaji which would be discussed in details. They would gossip for hours together and aaji would make her tea or lemon juice accompanying paan.

The reason my aaji would never leave her was her discipline in work. The utensils and linen were left gleaming clean after Shobhaa atya had her magical hand rubbed over them. Even the floor and the courtyard would be left spotlessly clean and fresh after her work. Occasionally she also cleaned the water tank and the extra linen like sofa covers, veils and bed-sheets. I would always wonder how a significantly shabby woman like her is able to clean my home so neatly. Half of the times her saree would be wet due to constant working in water. She had cracked feet and wrinkled fingers but she never cared.

Shobhaa atya had an adopted girl named Salma. As Salma was exactly my age, Shobhaa atya would often ask for my old frocks and skirts for her. We played together often and I used to bring her home from her nearby school. Sometimes I used to handover some food, toys and frocks to Salma for which Shobhaa atya would be filled with pride and gratitude for me. I loved to watch her clean the utensils. Her wrinkled hands moving on the pots and plates along with water was a site to remember. There used to a typical rhythm to her work – whether it was her scrubbing shirts and sarees or dipping them in the bucket full of water and moving them round and round like a twister – everything made a pleasure for eye. And I also loved to listen to her words – which I found most amusing. “Ohh salmaa – ja na woh, thoda kaam karun ye” was her usual way of calling her only child.

She stayed at our home for 13 days when my aaji passed away. She cried the most and didn’t take a penny of the work she did in that period. She got Salma married at the age of 16 years. We shifted to our new home and I lost touch with her. At times I got news about salma – that she is having 3 babies and she is staying with shobhaa atya. But later I lost it completely.
It was a couple of days ago that I got a chance to meet Shabhaa atya after so many years again. I had some work with one of the residents of our old colony. While talking, my host, the old uncle sarda told me that Shobhaa is still working at his house. On my request he called her and within 5 mins Shobhaa atya came running down from nowhere. The moment she saw me she just held me into a tight hug. She caressed my cheeks and ruffled my hair. I could see tears flowing down her eyes and she was happy like a mother to see me and more than happy to hear about my wedding.
After the initial moments of surprise and happiness, I observed her in detail – she was more freckled now with the wrinkles showing under her eye and on her neck. But rest of the appearance was exactly the same.

The red teeth, the soorma eyes, the hair and the wet saree tucked a bit high - she had not changed a bit and even her accent was the same.
She immediately started telling our host about the bygone years – about how I used to help her in her work and play with salma. One thing she kept on repeating about me “Kiti motthi zali ki ata lagin pan karte”. She also told me about salma – that she had 6 girls from her first husband which she divorced and now 2 boys and 1 girl from the second husband. Our host joked that soon Salma will be making an entire cricket team. I told her that I was getting married 10 years after her daughter salma. I could not help but wonder how things change and situations change but some people never change. Shobhaa atya promised me to come for the wedding 2 days earlier and I am sure she will be more than happy to help my mom with the house cores. I hope to see her soon – because some people remain in your heart for a lifetime.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This is not an obituary!!!

Snowy weighted less than half a kilogram when we brought him home for the first time. He was sitting quietly in a jute bag on my lap while Dada and I carried him on my scooty. Timid, soundless, tranquil and completely white – he gave us the impression of a beautiful angel. How vulnerable he looked; how delicately carved. I feared he might not be real, he might not even move when we reach home. He was the first dog (and probably the only one) we would have. But since the first day itself, he never behaved like any of his counterparts. He was there all the time eating, sleeping, playing, snoring, fighting, enjoying . . . growing with both of us. He was our brother, our very own little, stupid bro.
He started coming out of his basket bed when he was just 2 months old. With his little feet, he used to walk till the kitchen door. He slept under the dining table and would wake up with a shock when the pressure cooker would blow its whistle. He wasn’t even able to jump up the bed till he was 6 months old. I used to take him up to sleep with me. . but with his strange sounds at night he would wake us.
Once he started jumping on the bed, there was no stopping him. First thing we would notice in the mornings were his silly groans - his tricks to wake us. Next was the time for the scratching, the licking and the biting. However silly this may sound, but it had somehow become a part of our lives.
Mom was never fond of dogs in the first place, but she was the first one to take him completely more than us. From cleaning his shit to feeding him food she did everything. She was the first one to even scold him at times he went anywhere near the “Devghar”.

Snowy was a miraculous dog since birth - one of the most amazing miracle he did was to wake up dad at 8 am. Dad, who would not see the sunlight till 9.30 am, started getting up at 8 am only with snowy’s insistence. Many times he would sit next to baba on the bed and start making strange sounds if baba didn’t wake up. If that didn’t work then he would start scratching Baba. Often we feared that baba would slap him hard for this, but surprisingly Baba would happily wake up watching his innocent pleading face.
He loved to chew Dada’s towel and many of them were converted to rags the moment Dada kept them lying on the bed. He loved to go out. If anyone of us touched his chain even by mistake, he would start jumping and scratching and barking so wildly that we had no choice but to take him out for a walk.
He was quite moody when it came to eating. His favorite food was undoubtedly the egg. He could smell it from even a kilometer and the moment Aai took it out from the refrigerator – BOW WOW BOW BOW !!!
The next was the malai cham cham. I don’t know how but he was crazy about this one sweet. He never ate other sweets likes like shrikhand, barfi, laddu. But cham cham was his favorite.
He loved the family. He was the first one to greet anyone with his jumps and licks who came home. People who initially ran away from him became immensely fond of him after snowy made them forget their apprehensions with his unconditional love. Chhotu uncle was his favorite and the moment he entered home, snowy wouldn’t let him rest for long. It was when Chhotu uncle would play with him for 10-15 mins, he would leave him in peace.
Like all others – he hated to take the bath – to get all wet. So the herculean task was always left to me. It would take me around 2 hours to wash, shampoo, dry and then make up his hair. At the end I would be left highly irritated with all his white hair sticking to my cloths and he would be left doubly irritated that he couldn’t bite me or harm me in any way for unabashedly ruffling his body and hair. What he would do was just look at me with an expression best left to both of us.
He was a constant joy to be around, even when he was sleeping – an adorable ball of clean, soft white cotton curled under the sofa or dining table or in front of the door. I often used to get told for picking him up while he was fast asleep. He was the biggest driving force for Aai and Baba when we siblings left home – I for my job and dada for his studies. He was always giving and giving.
He was considered in each and every thing concerning our family. My cousin had once even named him as Snowy Ukhalkar. We were planning all sorts of things to do for him for the coming winter. But he had been ill since two weeks and from Aai’s phone calls it seemed it was something serious. We were travelling from Pune to Akola and the occasion was 2 days before my engagement. I was worried but I hoped that we would meet him . . that he would be alright.
But all my hope was brutally crushed. He didn’t wait. He was gone already when we reached.
Snowy. Our snowy. Gone ?????? It was something dada and I, both couldn’t digest. It was just a couple of weeks ago I had met him on Dashera. How could he be so ill to not even wait a couple of more days ?? How could one day he just decide to leave us and go away somewhere never to return ?? This was insane, this was cruel, this was unreal.

It took us almost three hours to come to term with the situation. But I thought it would take us the entire lifetime to come to terms with the fact – snowy no more.
Mom and dad tried consoling us – his life was measured and he lived a happy life. But all this seemed vague and insufficient explanation. The basic question was not why but was why so soon, why so unexpected???
I guess I am still trying to find out the answer. I know I Know – he was just a dog. But this argument doesn’t stand for me anymore and neither for my entire family. He was after all a life – a happy, jolly, soft, pure white life !!!!
I wish I had got a chance to take him up in my hands and squeeze him in a tight hug . . .
Love you Dheboo !!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mad Acts of pleasure !!!

Sometimes, madness is the beginning to incredible pleasure . . . .

Year: 2009

Occasion: "Scintillations"
The annual awards function and cultural event.

For me, the participation in Scintillations was just a way to get some change in my routine life. The event was Mad Act where one actor from each unit was to act a famous character in a small skit of around 20 mins. It was just around 10 days from the D-Day and the script was nowhere to be finalized. People involved were busy in official commitments and to manage everyone at the same time for practice was a herculean task. Initially, I was apprehensive – this might turn out to be a boring experience with a vague script and unknown people. But, I went ahead with my fingers crossed.

The first meeting was pure IT istyle with all the introduction and formality part thrown in. But, some people strike a chord somewhere. Even if some of us had come to find an excuse from work like me, some were seriously involved in theatre since their college days. They were the driving force for kick starting the practice with zeal. Just within half an hour of discussion, the characters were decided and the basic script was finalized. That was quite a feat in itself and I couldn’t help but appreciate the sheer mettle of our caption/director to judge the group so fast and settle down everything. It was a positive sign.

Bless me!!! I was the only girl in the gang of seven guys. There was an Akbar Hyderabadi, A Gadadhari Bheem, A.K. Hungal, Amol Palekar, Baburao Apte and Sachin Tendulkar and between them – I, Dee Dee from Dexter’s laboratory. Just the inclusion of such a weird list of characters created a feel of humor and to add to it was the theme of the skit which made it hilarious.

Initially, only some basic movements and dialogues were written. But, as the practice progressed, there were some on the spot additions and improvisations which started to change the entire mood and feel of the script. People who were bit conscious earlier, started to open up throwing away all the inhibitions. The comfort level soared significantly which helped the characters to evolve in their own style. There was a huge arena of possibilities now; which I could imagine and if all went well, this could be one of the most memorable experiences of my life – emotionally as well as intellectually.

While practicing, there were mistakes; there were retakes and big chucks of laughter thrown in between. After 4 days of practice, everyone seemed to forget that they were there as a part of competition from different units. Instead, all were immersed in one common motto – to act, to enjoy and to make this a great skit. We started to come on time and wait till late nights for practice. The pleasure and joy was palpable and contagious wherein all put their best to make it a success.

Our director Amol Palekar was the biggest driving force behind the entire scene. He acted the best and made others act to their best. The ways and styles with which he could enact each and every dialogue were truly amazing. With his energy, humor and dedication he would make it sure that we enjoyed what we are doing and still are serious enough to work hard – just like the real Palekar. The result - our skit was turning out to be an outright comedy.

Then there was Akbar, though a pure Marathi – he could act like he is a Hyderabadi by birth. His ease on the stage was magnetic and his constant jokes were a hit. Though he made mistakes and forgot his lines, it made up for a greater laugh and brought in lots of improvisations. Together with Palekar, he used to give the entire team a food for fun and laughter. I never thought I would get a friend for life in him.

Sachin, Baburao, A.K.Hungal, Bheem all brought their individual charm to the skit. I felt I should shoot the practice session because I knew one day, more than the actual performance, I am gonna miss the practice session the most. We were a great team and I wanted to hold on to the bonding.
Finally we were ready to perform on the D-Day. We were wandering throughout the grounds without a single worry – our skit was perfectly ready. It was remarkable to watch our team get ready in their costumes - Akbar, Bheem, A. K. Hungal and specially Baburao with his dhoti, topi and old bag.

We all were set and the skit was announced.
20 minutes of sheer pleasure. Period. What an experience that was. There was no stage and no audience – we were as we have been in the practicing room – natural, comfortable and humorous. It was after the performance that we realized we were a hit. The audience was laughing for the entire skit and the mood was ecstatic. We rocked. We surely did!!!!

For me, it was a moment of assimilation – what had started as just a fun activity for me had unquestionably turned out to be one of the most memorable journeys. The entire process had not only given me friends for life time but a benchmark to look back to whenever I get involved any such initiative further. There was a lot to take home from the moment but I was just basking in the achievement. The time had given me such an expected result that I was sure to be in the same mood for days to come. And I was hoping the same for others too. And more than anything else, it was humbling to realize that we had performed as a team – not as individuals.

Today after more than a year after the event, the memories are still fresh. I feel like asking Palekar his expert comments when i practice for this year's skit. I see the difference in attitude when i see other people practicing for their skit. I often run into Palekar in the office canteen and all I can remember is his typical way of saying his dialogues. I meet Akbar and I share the same jokes in Hyderabadi accent. I can see Baburao walking briskly with his bag and I imagine Sachin with his bat and gloves.

Sometimes madness really is the beginning for great pleasure. I started the madness and the delight has yet not died.
This memoir is especially for all the mad friends I made so that they don’t think twice before acting mad once in a while. . . .