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Own Compositions and Covers

Below is the compiled list of video/audio clips of my musical endeavors. Though I have almost given up on my musical career, please feel free to have a good laugh ;)

 

Thanks for listening!!

 

 

 

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Band Review: Porcupine Tree

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Then God said to Floyd, “Let there be Music…” and years later, Light gave way to Porcupine Tree!

During my initial trysts with Rock music, instrumentals and melodies were something that drew me closer and fonder to the band than anything else. It was only years later, that I started making sense of the lyrics – as the lyrics seemed to apply more aptly to my life situations. With time, I started disliking certain bands due to the distressing, albeit smoothly melancholic lyrics they had in place. Porcupine Tree was one such band!

Being Spacey and Trippy themed, Porcupine Tree was a perfect companion during my lonely phases of life. But listen to the music for far too long, it starts getting to you. Nothing and nothing, but only the best trance, were allowed to caress my eardrums. The rhythms, tunes and guitar solos would gently entice me, smoothly into wonderful trips, until one day, I found myself relating to the music a bit too much.  Porcupine Tree sounded like an underground subliminal programming band. But hey, we used torrents to get to listen to the songs anyway!

In college, after we had done our time with Pink Floyd (without comprehending the poetry all too well), enjoying every bit of their way too well known hits, the whole campus was in search of a musical extension to Floyd. It was then, that Porcupine Tree made an entry. The official video of Fear of a Blank Planet started generating wow-ness on the college LAN. From what the video seemed to suggest, I thought that the song was all about how kids would take to weird drugs and ruin their lives. And, the song seemed to be suggestive to make drugs look cool. It was only years later, that I realized that it was all about a condition called Bipolar Disorder and the pills that were being shown in the song, were actually the actual medications being taken to treat the condition.

The extended, loaded-with-feel, guitar solos of Steven Wilson is a pleasure to listen to -unlike the mechanistic solos of Dream Theater. The Porcupine Tree solos can get you hooked, making you go in loops of extended songs which sometimes last for more than 10 minutes. Tracks like Dark matter and Russia on Ice serves as proof to this claim. Their visualizations and musical soundscapes can only be rivaled by the legendary Pink Floyd. How The Sky Moves Sideways and the Voyage 34 albums provides an escapade to another universe, it is a wonder that they can convey such beautiful stories purely off of instrumentals alone. Their songs are open for interpretation and yes, every listener would have their own ways of comprehending this piece of art. But hey, that’s how art is supposed to be, isn’t it?

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Their live performances especially Arriving Somewhere but not Here, is a delight to watch and to listen to. In their late 2000 albums, they start describing life and become more like science fiction, like in the song Time Flies.

Which brings me to the concluding remarks. When PT went from being nice slow and trippy, to a pure progressive metal band, they start breaking down. Their later songs dont amuse me as much as their initial underground hits. The Signify album is my favorite pick and it represents the core of what the band set out to do – create amazing stories and caricatures in the Space-time fabric through music.

Thank You very much indeed, Porcupine Tree, you have given me some amazing everlasting memories! \m/

Tri-State Area

OK, so my roots are from a Tamil speaking sect of Kerala and I was born and brought up in Karnataka in a district bordering the states of Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh(lets get Telengana out of the way for a moment shall we); I studied Hindi till 12th and this post is being written in bits and pieces of English that I managed to pick up along the way.

Ever since I moved out of my kutti sweet little hometown, I’ve been forced to perform this “fine little balancing act” between Kannada and Tamil. And most probably, in this post, the author would fail in juggling the balls just right and end up getting thrashed by both parties, yet again!

I’m a linguistic minority in all senses of the phrase. A species on the extinction list! Apparently, being able to score 97% in Kannada is not good enough for many folks since I am unable to pronounce “Helu”, the right way! The first question I get asked when someone is trying to make an acquaintance, “What language do you speak, tamil right”? Frikkin Genius people! I’m like, its complicated dude. But all I manage to utter is “Yes”, when what I wanted to say was “Whatever”!

Now, I’ve done my time in Chennai too. And lets just say, that some of my tamil proverbs were a instant hit. All, thanks to this buddy from my hometown who happens to call himself “Che”:P for no apparent reason. But when it comes to reading or comprehending poetic Tamil, i’m as blind as a bat trying to spot water in a Saharan desert mirage! Oh, you can’t read Tamil, you must be from Bombay!! I’m like, yes, I was in the modelling business for a while, but things just didn’t “work-out”:P And talk about riding a KA registered bike in Chennai, I was like, Chennai autos are way cheaper than the cops. I once “sodhexoed” my way out of a sticky situation! Try explaining that to AK.

Talking about politics, I would like to end this post with a light-hearted pun from one of our ex-eminent political figure in Vidhana Soudha.

At the VS assembly:

Education minister: Syllabus change madbeku! (claps all around)

Eminent political figure: Saaar, Sila-Bus illa,,, Pala-Bus change madbeku, Hmmph!! :P

(This post is just supposed to be a funny pun about our languages; no offense intended, hope none’s taken)

Over a casual conversation, I happened to recollect the below story which I had read in Tinkle as a kid. It seemed very appropriate in today’s world. So, here goes:

Once upon a time, in a village far away, there lived a very wise Guru. The Guru was revered far and abound, and many people would come to his doorstep seeking valuable advice. The Guru stayed in an Ashram with his wife and 7 idiotic Disciples. The idiocy of the disciples were well known around the village and their adventures soon became stories to be recollected fondly by the villagers. But, the disciples’ stories carried moral messages too. So, let us listen to 3 such stories and try to interpret some wise principles.

To Fetch a Pail of Water

One day, the Guru’s Ashram ran out of water. The Guru summoned all his 7 disciples and asked them to fill the large Urn with water, from the well near the Ashram. The disciples wanted to impress the Guru and thus, they immediately set off to the well to fetch water. But the well had only one pail and everybody wanted to draw the water themselves to impress the Guru. They started a fight among themselves over who would draw the water from the well and fill the Urn back at the Ashram. Eventually, the moronic disciples started fetching the water from the well one by one, taking turns with each draw. While a single disciple carried  the pail all the way back, a lot of water spilled over the ground and the other disciples remained idle till he returned back, only to start over the process all over again.

A lot of time had passed and the Urn was barely full. Then, the Guru noticed that it had been a very long time since the disciples had departed for the task and eventually, he headed over to the well to investigate. At the well, 6 of the disciples were awaiting their turn to draw water. When the Guru heard of their stupid, inefficient and selfish plan, he was incredibly annoyed. He asked the disciples to meet him back at the Ashram.

Back at the Ashram, the Guru scolded the disciples for being so self-centered in wanting to impress him that they missed the whole point about the task. He lectured them as to how they could have taken a smaller urn to the well, filled it by drawing pails of water from the well while taking turns, and together carrying the smaller Urn back to the Ashram and quickly finishing the job at hand.

The Guru emphasized the importance of team work. He said, “Henceforth, whatever task you do, make sure you do it as a team, as together everybody achieves more.” The disciples nodded their heads in unison and took the Guru’s leave.

Needle in a Haystack

A fortnight after the water fetching incident, the Guru had left for Shivpur which was twenty miles away from the ashram, to attend a marriage ceremony. Later that day, the Guru’s wife called out for one of the disciples; but all of them rushed into the house together as per the Guru’s last advice to work as a team. The wife asked one of the disciples to head out to Rampur to buy a needle, as she could not find one in the house. She said she needed it fast as one of the Guru’s clothes needed attending to. The disciples argued that they had to complete this task as a team, and that they would all together go to Rampur to buy the needle. Rampur was 16 miles away from the Ashram. The Guru’s wife tried to reason with them but they would not understand. All the seven disciples set off on their journey to Rampur.

After an exhausting 2 hour walk over rocky and thorny terrain, they reached the tailor shop in Rampur. Together, they bought a single needle and now, the question on who would carry the needle back to the ashram arose. Thus ensued a fight among the disciples and eventually, they decided that they would continue to operate as a team. Thus, all of the disciples lent a hand to hold the needle, and started to walk briskly. The needle was too small to be held by all the seven hands and it started pricking the disciples’ fingers and some of them started to bleed. They stopped, and then decided that they would walk slowly. But then, it was getting late and the sun was about to set. Exhausted, flabbergasted and bleeding, the disciples sat down under a tree and began to cry out aloud. They cried because they could not perform such a simple task as per their Guru’s advice.

One of the passerby’s heard their loud cries and came down to investigate. He listened to their story and realized that they were the seven idiotic disciples of the famed Guru. The passerby then came up with a brilliant suggestion. He told the disciples that they could stick the needle onto a large heavy log, and all of them together could carry the log back to the Ashram. They way, they could work as a team and also deliver the needle as promised.

Over the rough terrain, the disciples carried the heavy log and late at night, the disciples reached the ashram where, the Guru had returned back from the wedding ceremony at Shivpur. The disciples were beaming with pride and each of them were jumping with excitement to recite the entire adventure to the Guru. They narrated the entire incident and each of them started passing the log-needle idea to be their own! A fight ensued over who originally came up with the idea. The exhausted Guru then told them to stop fighting and to hand over the needle to his wife. The disciples picked up the log and started searching for the needle – only to find out that the needle had dropped off and was thus lost on their way back!

Grinding the Axe

The Guru had had a long walk back from the wedding ceremony. He was tired and his legs were aching. While massaging the exhausted Guru’s legs, the Guru’s wife lamented over the entire incident about the needle and was requesting the Guru to send the disciples back to their homes as they were of no good. The Guru calmly replied that the disciples were like small children and were still learning about the ways of the world. He mentioned that soon, the holy Goddess would shower their blessing upon them and then, they would gain some common sense. With a demeaning shrug, the wife stopped massaging the Guru’s legs and left, asking the Guru to get his legs massaged by his seven beloved disciples. The worn out and tired Guru summoned his disciples and asked them to start massaging his leg. Three of the disciples massaged the Guru’s right leg and the remaining four started massaging the left one. After some massage and passage of time, the Guru was soothed and soon, he fell asleep.

The Guru’s left leg was weak, limp and frail as he had had a bout of Polio when he was young. The disciples started massaging their way away, competing amongst them, and soon, trouble started brewing. The disciples started arguing over which of the Guru’s legs was holier. The three disciples who were massaging the Guru’s abled right leg argued that their leg was holier as it was mightier than the left leg. They started mocking the limp left leg stating that it was weak and of no use. The other four disciples on the other hand argued and mocked the right leg. They said that the left leg was of perfect proportion and that in fact, it was the right leg that was grossly enlarged.

When a fight boiled over, each of the two groups threatened to cut-off the other leg with an Axe! The disciples fumed with anger at each other and headed out to get the axe. They started sharpening the axe on a piece of grinding stone. Amidst all the commotion, the Guru woke up to find his disciples missing from his sight. He headed out to find them sharpening Axes. He shouted them to stop and demanded an explanation. The disciples narrated the entire incident and let the Guru know that they were about to chop off one of his legs and wanted to Guru to instruct them as to which one of the Guru’s legs were to be dismembered!!

Hearing this, the Guru fainted, while the disciples gazed at each other in dismay.

………End of story……..

It would be fantastic to hear the morals or philosophies that you have managed to infer after reading the disciples’ stories. Thanks for reading and have a Happy Day!!

My days at College

Sometimes, in the nights, I cried…

Today, I started watching a few of the videos that my juniors had posted on Youtube about NIT…C. It felt great. It took me back to the good old days of 2003 and 2007. The early morning rush to the classroom, rushing to eat breakfast at 07:30 AM, the classes (some interesting and some over the top of my head), Kattangal, Mini Canteen and so on…

College life was great. There are some things in life that you don’t appreciate whilst you are experiencing it. But then hey, we are all optimists and when we are reminiscing about the past, we take away only the good moments. Moments that take your breath away…moments those are well worth remembering. And so goes the recollection of my days at NITC…

The opening scene…

We took a jeep all the way from Malappuram to Calicut en route to NITC. I had big hopes; big dreams and I really looked forward to a life of a nerd as I was labeled as one such, during my school days. I kept scrolling through the whizzing poster boards of shops along the way to Calicut and finally, I read something called REC post. It was Kattangal and then we entered the campus, it was my first glimpse of NITC. It gave me a prestigious and awesome feeling to be a part of this nice place that was deemed as one of the best engineering colleges in India. And I had toiled for 2 complete years at KGF just to get the feel for this moment. I had rehearsed this scene several times in my head while I was preparing for the entrance exams. The day which I had dreamt of had finally arrived!

***A lot of videos and text written about my college portrays it in a negative fashion. Looks like, being against the educational system is the in-thing for all the students. But, I, hailing from a small town, came down here to study, to spend my time at the library, to discuss great thoughts and solve the world’s problems. When I had arrived, I did not come here to loiter around or waste my time doing some of the things that I would later realize I shouldn’t have done***

The transition process was entirely smooth. I spent a couple of hours at the AB (Admin Block) and got myself registered. My dad was beaming with pride and frankly, so was yours truly. Then, we headed into the hostels. I was really wondering how the hostels would have been Coz, I heard from some reliable sources that the bathrooms in government colleges would really ‘stink’. Thankfully, that was not the case here. I headed to the ‘A’ hostel and when I entered my room, I found two guys there already (whom I would later come to know as SP and AM). I had met KS beforehand and we really wanted to be roomies. Eventually, after a bit of haggling around, we settled down and my parents bid their goodbyes. And my mom just couldn’t seem to let me go. Eventually, I felt like a kid in Kindergarten, all mad at their parents for leaving them out there.

But, I was looking forward to exploring the new place. I wanted to attend that class and check out that awesome library which I never had been to before. I went around trying to make friends and trying to blend in. ’People are strange, when you’re a stranger’, I felt like a stranger in a new place and sometimes, in the nights, I cried…

A-125

Soon after settling down, the four of us, down at A-125 started talking and got comfortable with each other. I learnt that SP and AM had both got the coveted ECE branch at college. Now, that translated to amazing AIEEE ranks and both of them told me that they never prepared for IIT. SP was a thin lean guy, sitting on his bed reading the latest copy of ‘Shames’ even before the classes had started. And AM was a brilliant chap who could at most times be found in front of the mirror trying to get his hair just right. He did that all the time from the time he had gotten up.  We had visitors frequenting our room and most of them spoke in Malayalam (which I and KS used to secretly hate and pass comments in Kannada in return). Here was our room, in the ground floor, that directly faced the exit of the hostel. And since it was so accessible, it became an adda of sorts for some of the brilliant and lazy minds around. And, I hated it. I hated it to a point that once, I shouted at a few guys who were chit-chatting in my room, asking them to excuse themselves (actually it was a bit harsher than that) as I wanted to study!!

I woke up at 5:30 AM and turned on my table lamp and got a bath before 6 AM so that I can beat the crowd. I spent an hour studying for IIT as I had plans of giving the JEE another shot while I was in first year. So, my book shelf was still filled with the HC Vermas and Loneys. It really took me some time before I could admit to myself that the IIT’s were not meant for me. But nonetheless, I wanted to get out of NITC and into an IIT where my “Nerdy” wishes would be fulfilled. It also took me a while to realize that the IIT-log never sat down with books in their hands all the time. Rather, they played around, joked around and still managed to get a 9.0 GPA. Now, that’s what is called brilliant. I was a mere ‘fake’ trying to make it into an IIT. But, I slogged nonetheless. Coz, if it’s one thing I hated, it was people telling me that it could not be done.

I had some excellent teachers back in KGF. Right from Physics to Mathematics to Botany. I simply adored them for being so passionate while teaching. I used to be so full of doubts and proactive in class that I was nick-named a ‘Scientist’. And, coming down to NIT-C, I expected to make similar connections with the lecturers and professors around whilst I broadened my intellectual horizons. Sadly, I was unable to make such connections save except for a couple of courses where I scored an ‘S’ grade which translates to the top 5% of the bell curve. Eventually, I seemed to learn a lot more from the students here at college rather than the classrooms. But, initially, I never seemed to give up.

Due to ragging scares, the newbie lot was accompanied by security guards all the way to the classes and back. And then, I entered the Chanakya Hall for the first time. The class was Physics, my favorite subject in high school but then, JJ had to ruin it all for me didn’t she. Premlet was the word – such a puny book that I could finish it off like a Dan Brown novel. And the class seemed to involve some mugging up and no problems!! I was flabbergasted. I had read Resnick and Halliday before this and it seemed to go fine…

There were two classes that I seemed to like a lot and which were popular amongst the crowd back in A- hostel. There was Engineering Statics and Engineering Drawing. I loved the classes to the core and spent a considerable amount of my first semester solving problems and discussing the same with the lot who used to frequent A-125. And out of them, AS used to be my favorite. We used to gang up and challenge him in all sorts of ways (which to an extent involved irritating the hell out of him). But, a true sport he was. And a taka genius too J. My costume at 6:00 in the morning would be a Bermuda and a red towel that I used to wrap around my body. It helped me a lot in beating the heat of Calicut. And these guys used to tease me for the same but hey, that’s just me being myself – The red toweled wonder named ‘Concept’ from Karnataka who eventually toiled his way throughout the semester and managed to get a decent 8.15. I was really happy with the score n stuff. But, the first semester also had a lot in store for me, including my first meet with RM – The Thalaivar! And, our christening into The Takas.

The Thalaivar

The evening sun down at the NIT campus was Balmy. Something that myself and KS used to be on a lookout for. We were sitting outside of the A-hostel and chitchatting about SP. To whom we would fondly refer to as The Jhirle. While we were chatting away, we heard someone call out to us in Kannada. We turned out heads around slowly. It was Terror at First Sight. It was our first true glimpse of The Thalaivar. “Magane, Useless Fuckers, What man Hoyyy”, he retorted. After a brief chat, Thalaivar mentioned that we would need to come to the C-Hostel and collect some books. We returned back to A-125 and discussed as to whether it would be safe to head to C-Hostel and collect the books that The Thalaivar had promised. We decided that it would be good to get the books but not to land in trouble in terms of ragging and sorts. Some of the books were already checked out from the library already and we always had room for some good books back in A-125. So, we tossed a coin and finally decided that it should be Concept  (Myself), who would go out to C and get the books.

I got into C-Hostel while all the eyes were upon me. A chill ran down my spine. I headed down the corridor to C-223. Whilst I was walking down the corridor, I could see empty bottles of Alcohol strewn across the corridor. It seemed like I was entering a mental asylum like in one of the Vikram’s movies. Slowly, I reached C-223 and just outside the latched door lay 2 bottles of empty Alcohol bottles and a small mountain of Cigarette ash and cigarette butts. I could sense that something was abound. I could smell something funny, only to learn later that there was some Marijuana being smoked inside. But at that fleeing instant, I gathered all my might and knocked on the door 3 times. “Knock, Knock, Knock!” The door opened and I could see the Devil himself – wearing a Bermuda and a red-towel wrapped around his body. He directed me to sit down on a chair. He sat down on his bed, took a deep drag from the cigarette that he was smoking. I could hear crackling sound emanating from the cigarette as he toked down a couple of puffs. Man! I was witnessing, for the first time in my life, a man, who was doing drugs!! There were no pleasantries exchanged. The Thalaivar, who was as high as a monk on the Himalayan Foot Ranges, proceeded to tell me a story. “This year, I stayed back in college to complete a summer course. So sit back and listen”. He titled the story, Summer Madness. And so, the recollection of this madman began:

 

Summer Madness (as narrated by The Thalaivar):

“Summer classes were awesome in a way. You just had to attend 1-2 classes in a day (on certain days, you did not have classes even). And after that, you could head back to your rooms and engage yourself in whatever activity that amused you. There weren’t any nerds in class to screw up your GPA; and few people stayed back during summers. Only the dopers, repeaters and folks who had to travel a long way to get to their homes were to be seen around campus. I for one qualified for the first two of the aforementioned criteria. And, I had a so-called friend to accompany me for that brief period. And his name was Kamlesh.

Kamlesh:

“I cannot go to the class today Macha”, Kamlesh told me, as he threw the fag end of his cigarette into the empty Pringles can. It was the sixth time we had rolled up since last night, and the high was not pleasurable enough to get us into another Pink Floyd trip. You know that feeling you get when joints can no longer get you high? It’s like ramming into a wall, with no end in sight. And, I was running on no sleep for the past 24 hours.

This was summer break, we found ourselves stuck, in this god forsaken doomed institution for a summer course. If we attended the classes and cleared the exams which were due in 2 weeks, it meant, we could be in the regular classes starting next semester. I for one, did not want to get a year-back!

This whole summer class concept was new to me, I had just flunked my first course in my f***ing life! But Kamlesh, well, he has spent at least 6 years in college. Some say he has spent more time than that, but hey, the man is a legend, you have to give it up for him. We met last semester at the EMT class and I can vividly remember then, the sense of doom that loomed over me when I saw him for the first time. Quite naturally, we quickly became friends while sharing a smoke and pretty soon afterwards, we were spending time at his cozy room, smoking joints and talking bullshit philosophy about life. After getting high, Kamlesh comes up with ridiculous stories that had happened to him and worse yet, he claimed that all of them were true!!

The Summer Mango showers were on in the college campus. And yes, we could smell the whiff of moist ocean breeze which drifted in from the Katanga beach which was located within our picturesque campus. I scampered down the stairs and was running on my way to class. I glanced down at my Timex Triathlon and the time was 8:07 Hours – Yes, I remember setting my watch to display the 24 hour format as the AM-PM thingy threw me off balance, thanks to my screwed up diurnal cycle. I knew I was smart, if I can muster myself to attend all the classes and then study some more, I can clear this exam and get done with this course in another year. “Yes I can”, my inner voice echoed to myself – I can do that and change my life around for the better. I can clear this class, quit smoking weed, cut the friendship with Kamlesh, and be on my way. Life had better things in store for me. I am not going to end up like this f***ing Kamlesh and waste away in this moist wilderness which reminded me of this enchanting tree-house in the Wills-Navy Cut ad which I remember seeing as a kid. Pooh! I need another smoke already!

10 minutes later, after walking for what seemed like an eternity, I found myself in front of the Departmental Block. I pulled out my book from my sling back-pack and checked I had to head to room 221-B. I peered inside and found that the lecturer, Mr. Rabindra, was busy teaching classes to a bunch of students who had failed his dreaded final exam paper last semester. “Excuse me Sir”, I managed to feebly mutter. He did not even give me a glance.

“Sir! Excuse me. May I come in sir?” a bit louder this time. Mr. Rabindra turned towards me and scorned at me like a demon right out of the PC game called Doom (which I loved playing btw). “You fellows will never change”, he exclaimed. Just then, about 25 heads turned towards me in an instant and the embarrassment was enough to make me feel like I was falling into a bottomless well. “I can see your future Boy! I know what you guys are up to all day long in the hostels”. It felt like Mr. Rabindra had shoved his boot down my throat. “No matter how many times you fail my class, you will still be able to find a job in one of those stupid software companies and end up like a rotten piece of meat. Don’t you have an iota of self-respect? Late by 20 minutes! Go and get rotten on your seat! Go! The rest of you, look here” he thundered at the classroom. And instantly, I could hear the class rummaging through their pages and getting back to the lecture.

As mentioned by Mr. Rabindra, I seated my rotten ass in the desk at the last row and opened my notebook. Just when I opened the book, flakes of tobacco started falling from its sides. “Shit!!” I exasperated. I had asked that asshole never to prepare joints using my book. I had just gotten him a nice glossy magazine for that purposes; to which he is probably jerking-off to right now.”

And thus, the Thalaivar then ended his story, asked me to excuse myself from his hell-hole. He asked me to come back again on the day after tomorrow for the books…

To be continued…

NCC Days

During my 8th and 9th grade, I was part of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) – Junior Division. There were lots of experiences, takeaways and lessons for life. Thought I’d share the daily adventurous routines and special memories from – back in those days. I am beginning to sound like an old grandpa recollecting all his memories, but I don’t care. For when it comes to writing, I have but realized just one thing, “Make hay while the sun shines”. Thus, with the limited amount of inspiration and time I have at my disposal, I proceed:

I had just started my term in a new school as my previous one does not offer classes after 7th grade. After a bit of school fun and getting the “Nin mukha noddhre nin future gothagatthe” ghali from my drawing teacher (that translates to, your face tells me what your future would be like), I ended up in the last bench having a gala time, making a lot of jokes with my new friends.

One day, the NCC-ANO (the appointed NCC officer for the school), who also happened to my class teacher that year, stormed into the classroom. “All people sitting in the last bench, get up”, he retorted. After doing a cursory physical check, he said, “You are now going to join the NCC”, and handed out a couple of forms and took down our names. “Fill out these forms, get the signatures from your parents and submit at the NCC office in a day or two”. My knees started trembling and I think I started getting all teary eyed after my “forceful induction” into the NCC program.

There were mixed emotions down at the last bench. Some were telling me it would be an amazing experience as you can shoot with rifles, go on long treks and pitch tents and camp in them. The other lot were worried about being deployed in the battle fronts if the need arose! Me and my parents were like, Wait a minute!! Can they do that?? But somehow, eventually, my parents signed the forms and pushed me into what seemed like eternal doom.

After enrolling into the NCC, days started getting adventurous. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we would march out into the streets wearing the NCC uniform. Savdhan  and Vishram became the  Tej-Chal phrases in everyday lingo. But, after the drill sessions, we were treated to some awesome, albeit limited breakfast items from Bangarpet which arrived by a pick-up auto. Our faces used to gleam with joy the moment we heard the refreshment auto coming in from a distance.

Once, during the theory classes, one of the Physical Instructors threw a question at us. “Aap log bade banke kya ban-na chathe ho?” In other words, what do you want to become after you grow up. I for one, do not consider myself grown up even today. But on that day, I raised my hand and answered with all pride, might and honesty, “Main Bharat Ki Pradhan-Mantri ban-na Chatha Hoon Saab!” Which translates to, I want to become the Prime-Minister of India! Puzzled as I was, even today, cannot understand the reason why I had to run thrice around the school ground and do a bunch of Frog-Jumps after I made that statement! Political ambitions are definitely frowned down upon in our country.

After the first year passed, the real fun began, in the form of Camps. Initially, we went out to the CATC camp at Kolar (which was the head of our Battalion). And then came the grueling Republic Day Camps. The amount of Flat-Foot marches that we had pounded during the preparation and camp would have been enough to lay a NICE road between Bangalore and KGF! I had never blacked out before but, I got the fainting symptoms once, during the RDC preparations at school and I have never blacked-out after that too.

After the in-school trainings, during the actual RDC camps, I had my first encounters with the “kids from the city”. All their parents were either big industrialists or high –ranked officials in the Army. They got dropped to the Iblur Army camp in fancy cars, while we got picked by Army trucks from Begum-Mahal. After Grueling drill sessions, and cultural practice, we would retire at our assigned barracks, only to find that the city kids were provided with mosquito nets. All that we had were our bare hands to protect ourselves from the onslaught of massive swarms of blood-hungry demons of Iblur (they were probably Culex or Anopheles’ in origin, but I could not tell).

 

During the RD camps, they had an event to select candidates from each group for the Best Cadet. Naturally, yours truly was sent to represent our Battalion. After several stages during the best Cadet interview, I was asked to march and stop in front of the Lt Col. A PI staff gave me some drill commands to which I complied. I heard the Lt Col tell the other seated officer that my “Dhayne-Mod” (Right Turn) was good. I was teetering with josh and insurmountable electricity (what one might call as the shivers down ones spine). Then, the Lt Col asked a fellow cadet to lie on the ground, he turned towards me and asked a question: “This boy is bit by a snake, how would you go about providing First-Aid?” I instantly sprang into action and removed the cord that was attached to the right side of my shoulder in the NCC uniform (google tells me it is called an Aiguillette), and tied it around the affected cadet’s leg. I explained to the Lt Col that I would use it as a stopper to prevent the poison from going up and then use my mouth to suck out the venom (as seen in Tamil movies, but please note that using the cord as a tourniquet was my idea). The Officer laughed so hard and told me that I am watching a lot of movies and that was not how it was to be done.

At the end of the first RD camp, I was selected as the “Best-Cadet Award” for Group B-JD wing. And it is to date, one of the most proud recollections. During the final parade at the end of the RDC-1 camp, in front of the entire camp population, glorified platoons standing in files of three, the group B commander put the fancy medal over my neck after I marched up to the Diaz like a smart, best Cadet that I was, and received the award, while the Brass Band played along. Awesome times those. To get the selected as a best cadet, I had a decent firing score, an above average “Dhayne-Mod” (which I owe to the strenuous training I had received back in school) and the interesting snake bite incident as described above.

The Bada-Khana (big-feast) after the final parade was my first time eating Paneer (Paneer Butter Masala actually). I had two generous servings. But then hey, I was the JD Best-Cadet!!

In the second RD camp at the Jalahalli Air-Force base, the day before I had to head out for the firing sessions, my base was on fire – A really bad case of Diarrhea!! Food poisoning, I was told. And thus, my Republic Day dreams came to an abrupt end. But then, stepping out of home for the first time, I learnt many things about comradeship, fighting for a cause, standing up for oneself and a lot of physical Indian Army drill. The RDC hangover lasted over the rest of the Academic year. I wanted to join the Army. But the closest thing I have ever done thus far, is to write a short recollection about my NCC days!!

Fresh Off the Boat (FOTB)

Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to travel by an airplane. The “Aeroplane – Tata” still lingers fresh in my mind. Makes me think, when will the Tata’s start manufacturing Aeroplanes? Then when good cable came by, the programs on Airplanes always captivated me. I liked Airplanes so much that I started making Origami paper planes which even got me a prize during college. But then, my dream remained unfulfilled until the 29th of September 2008!

I took my first flight from Bangalore to Paris and then to Cincinnati. It was undoubtedly the best trip I had ever had in my life. And whilst I was in the plane, it felt like I was the pilot given all the accessories in the passenger seat. Like a moron, I started clicking pictures while the flight was in air and this gentleman beside me started giving me glances of sorts.

Paris was the first time I was outside of India. Until then, I had not even travelled to the north of India – it was a direct international flight for me. The CDG airport was simply mind-blowing. Not to mention the amazing architecture and the lovely air-hostesses. I even chanced upon a Concorde which was retired by that time but I saw a Concorde nonetheless. Also, I happened to sit on the side of the plane which gave me a good view of the Eiffel Tower from up above!

I have a few complaints regarding the flights that come into and leave out of India. They seriously treat Indian passengers like crap. Firstly, after about 5 hours since the plane has taken off, the whole plane reeks of the smell from the bathroom. Flight attendants give you a blank expression and of course if they realize that it’s your first time on the flight, then forget about it.

Then, when I finally landed in Cincy and got my immi cleared, it brought with it a sense of “I’m done for”. I really don’t know why, but my instincts always carry with them a sense of truth and the “I told you so…” feeling doomed over me.

After certain instances of humiliation and being laughed at in public, it felt like, “Everybody’s talkin at me; I don’t know a word they’re saying…” It did not seem to matter anymore. I was officially, “Fresh off the Boat”. But isn’t that an outdated expression? People always land in Airplanes these days.