Saturday, August 29, 2015

Internet...what a terrible thing to waste!

One look at the FB time line and u get the feeling how "closed" minds WE have about everything and anything!!
The thoughts...ideology....tradition....culture....wife....GF...children are the best and this is it. And lets not forget the biggest of them all - ur religion! We had once last chance to experience "others" at no cost and we are screwing that up too.
It gets over, even before it begins folks....the journey to something NEW!
Good luck for a journey from yourself to yourself! (with a total distance of travel a mind boggling zero miles in a period of avg 80 years!!)
Internet...what a terrible thing to waste!!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A rebel with a cause..

After a gap of 20 years or so met up with a few old frnds . They come from different backgrounds and socio ec status. They all are hard working, model citizens and good people who broke the glass barriers in the US and moved many notches up on the career ladder. They are living a dream they saw while siping Thambi ka cutting chai in Mumbai. Yet, I found them to be struggling with a few issues which bothered me. Gone are the days when we used to meet each other and solve engineering or applied mechanics problems. These new problems are tough ones are they are mostly the following:
1: The indifference of the wives
2: The growing rebellion of the children
Lets talk about the rebellion first.
It is romantic to be a rebel. Is that’s why these 17 year olds turn into rebels? What is it? It is downhill slope which only adds misery to life of all concerned parties then why we see more kids joining its rank?
Since I know the personalities of my frnds, I can take a calculated risk of analyzing it.
I think the word “huge disappointment” comes before the word “rebellion” comes into play. Them kids when they are going to school, they pick up images and construct a life for themselves. The father mostly has other more workable plans. You throw in no communication and a full blown rebellion is at hands.
Sometimes even communication does not help.
In the known history, there is no bigger rebel I know of other than Aurangzeb. History books are full of his letters detailing his trouble in managing Deccan with meager resources. Since Deccan was full of non agri land and had water shortages, he is seen constantly begging for more land from either Gujarat or Karnaktak from ShahJahan. ShahJhan allowed none and ridiculed him. You throw in his sibling rivalry with Dara and we have a rebel who did not stop rebelling even after ShahJahan was buried inside Taj Mahal.
Later on, all his remaining life he can be seen rebelling against his four sons. He is seen humiliating them in Darbaar and all that good stuff.
Management 101 says “discipline in private, praise in public”, but I guess when you are a king you make ur own rules.
Now, we see new Auarangzeb showing up in modern homes.
The way my frnds are dealing with the issue is this: Those with the money are saying “ My way or the high way”, those without major bank balance have reconciled by saying “ its happening in every house – Vidi Ka Vidhaan. Kiya Kar sakte hain?”.
The other fact that emerges from these stories is that these rebels don’t rebel against any Tom, Dick and Harry. It’s always against someone they love deeply. Additionally they don’t move an inch from the spot the first rebellion broke out.
You all remember the famous scene of Shakti between Dilip and Amitahb at the sea. See it again. Even though Dilip wants something else from that meet, Amitahb still stuck in the past. Not moving an inch.
Sufiism is the way forward someone said. I think its gross injustice to expect these kiddos to think like a sufi at at the age of 17 or so.
I think we should meet them where these rebels want us to meet. Eye to eye. Gentle talk.
Father son relation is the best one in my opinion and can be a source of real fun. There is no better sight than to see a father with his hand on the shoulder of his son watching the sun go down at the nearest sea. Life is all about seeking breadth taking moments. Here is a man who wants best for his son… here is a son who obviously wants to return the favor to his father for all the hard work he did in raising / educating him. They have a lot more at stake then they acknowledge.
In regards to the fist issue, I believe every woman deserves to walk 6 inch above the surface of earth while she is with his man. She undergoes many changes in her after marriage and needs assurance from his man. In the words of an American philosopher Jeff Shipman, “for a woman a pregnancy is like a head-on collision of car. Every part of her body gets affected sometimes beyond repair”. A man must still treat her the way he treated her in the first spring of their life.
A man must make her feel special every time - All the time. All you need is ability to speak ur heart…honestly….humorlessly!
I have done it. It works every time!
Good Luck!!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Khud Kashi

Jab barson Se bichde Hue Ek Dost Ne
Achanak Mil Kar
Poorani Tasveeron Main Tumhen Talash Kiya
"Yaar, Ye Kaise Bichad Gayin?"
Aur Jab Koi Jumla Mada Ko Nahi Aayaa
To Chand Toote Hue Lafzon Ne
Kisi Palkon Se Gir Kar
Khud Kashi Kar Li!

(C) Shahid Parvez Sayed, August 15th, @ 1 am

Jimmy Carter - what a journey!

Someone taps on my shoulder. I turned back.
“Hi, I am Rosalynn”

I found an elderly women greeting me with a big smile. I just saw her on stage with Jimmy Carter. OMG. She is his wife Rosalynn. She was the first lady of the US in 1976-80. What an honor! She herself came down to greet us. I was not expecting that.

We were in a Church at Plains, GA. hometown of the Carters. I have been his fan since my college days at Georgia Tech, so when I found out he teaches at Sunday school of the church, I drove to Plains, GA 160 miles south west of Atlanta. One of my first project in has named Jimmy Carter Blvd. gotten a National Award, so I had one more reason to go.

We shake hands.

“I reckon you guys drove from Atlanta?”
“Yes we did. She just got here to the US and this is her first time outside ATL. I wanted her to see Mr. Carter on her first visit”.
“Oh that’s so sweet.  I am glad both of ya’all you cud come. You gonna stay for the picture?”
“Yes we will”
“We will see you then”
She said and moved on to her next guest.

You can safely flashback to the time when her husband was the tenant of the White House and you could imagine her greeting and exchanging pleasantries with the kings, queen and dictators the same way.

My appreciation of Jimmy Carter is not an accident. Even though he was the President before even I cud spell America, I am deeply touched by his entire life.

He has done so much for the World after losing the second term that it will take pages after pages to write them down. The most significant one I think his peace initiatives in every conflict the World saw after 1980. His involvement in ‘Habitat for Humanity’ by constructing cheap houses for poor has been remarkable.

He has been a man of deep deep convictions. For example when he was the President and Iran Hostage was crisis was raising the passions in America for a military strike. He had the choice to drop half a dozen nuclear bombs on Iran, he refused to do so. He negotiated and then authorized a rescue operation which failed miserably making his second term impossible.

American resentment for Iran was at its height, he and his advisers knew this is going to hurt in 1980, yet he stayed true to his belief of “killing each other’s children is no way to peace”

What a story the Carters have!

He went to my Alma Mater Georgia Tech. He used to joke about his career path by saying “ I am a son of a farmer, trained nuclear engineer, worked on first Nuclear submarine, was President of the US and sell peanuts for a living!”

I had driven my then in-house girl frnd to Plains, GA hoping she would fall in love with him. I wanted her to volunteer her time to ‘Carter Cente’ in Atlanta.

As we drove around town square, I was hoping to see his picture all over. There was none. Any street named after him. Nope. I was shocked as I am used to politicians of all hue, size n shape welcoming me with maa-baap smiles in every town I visit in India. No sign of Carters here.

We asked for his Museum. We were directed to his high school which was converted to a Museum. We walked around the classes and halls thinking how it must have been those days.

On our way back I asked the old lady at the main reception about where can I see Mr Carter. She said in the evening you will see an old man cycling around the main road – that’s him!

It turned out she was the classmate of President Carter while he was in High School, same high school where she was sitting then!

PS: Even though Jimmy Carter lives in the land of Satan, please google him or read one of his books and be surprised what it will teach you and your child. We are in a global village and chances your daughter and sons are not gonna be getting born-grow up up-marry -bear children and die with in 5 miles of your house. They cud go as far as 5000 miles. They need to learn a few things about others.

Mind it!

Sunday, August 02, 2015


Ye Qabar Kis Ki Hai? - I ask a group of men standing by a 15th century tomb.
"Pata Nahi. Poorani Hai bahut.."
I climb up to take a look and realize that they were the graves of two women. This is very rare to see women in Medivial India given so much respect by building tombs over them. I am thinking who they cud be? Malik Ambar's women? Malik Hameed or Fateh Khan's wives.
"Dunno who they are but they are the graves of two women of the same age". I declare as I climb down from the graves.
"How do you know they are women?" asks a man who approaches me.
"I know" - I say with dramatic authority.
"Aap Ka Naam Sir?"
"Sayed Shahid Husain".
I move on to see the hillock behind the tomb that has captured my imgagination. A small hill with a lone tree. What a place to sleep forever. All I wud need is a 50x50 plot. I can plant a yellow / orange Gulmohar tree there and thats it. I am thinking what to do as I hear a murmur in crowd.
" Uncle pahunche hue hain....Sayed Sadaat...oonchi family se. In ko maloom hoga"
"Suno bhai?"
"Ji Sir!"
"Yaar mujhe Dafan Hoe ke liye woh Jagah Mil Sakti Hai? Woh ped ke neeche wali?"
That guy reacted as if he just saw a ghost. His mouth went dry as he gulped some saliva to moist it.
" Haan kiyoon nahi!" He managed to say.
"Kis se Baat karni hogi?"
"Sir yahan ke trustee se...."
I gave him my number asking him to inform me how much will it cost and what are the formalities.
Two weeks later as I am sitting with my frnds practicing my humor, I get a call from an unknown number. This was from the same guy.
" Sir, Main ne Trustee se baat Ki. Woh Kehne lage woh Jagah Dargha Ke Upar hai. To is se Dargha wale Baba ki insult Ho Sakti hai. Aap neehe kahin batayen mil jayegi"
My frnds heard the conversation. They too saw ghost!!
It looks like Death has no frnds..
Autumn, 1992, Atlanta
I have booked my flight to India. I am going home. I am happy - yet apprehensive.
I feel like a warrior who faced insurmountable challenges, but remained steadfast in his determination to achieve his goal. A warrior who did not indulge in any act that he can’t share with his family n frnds. A warrior who sacrificed budding romances because he knew he will eventually return and did not want to get tied down to a country for wrong reasons. I have seen many in the US that came for education, but lost the sight of that goal and drifted in wine and women never to return….
I am keeping date with my destiny. India is my Karma Bhoomi as I had decided long time back. It’s time to walk the talk.
The night before my departure Dona invites me for the last super at the same restaurant we have been frequenting all these years. She tells me “ Whenever you return Shahid, it will be the same here”. (And she will keep her words, as I will see her again in 1999 and will realize nothing …not even the smell of her house has changed”. She is an angel….
After the dinner, I wanted to say good-bye to my frnd Ted Schelling. Dona drives me to his home. It is pre-mobile days, so I call Ted from pay phone at the lobby of the restaurant and take directions to his place. I write that address on a piece of paper I find in the restaurant lobby. We meet him and his family. Dona drops me back late at night. SK in the meantime has done all my packing on my behalf. Frndship it is…
Years later Dona gives me that piece of paper in which I had written the directions to Ted’s home. Apparently, I might have dropped that worthless piece of paper in Dona’s car after reaching Ted’s home. Dona must have found it while cleaning her car the next weekend. It was junk, yet she did not junk it. (The only other people who would not throw anything with my handwriting are my mom and my last in-house girl frnd). Blessings they are...or were...oh wait...
I am at the airport. All teared up. I have never worked in India and don’t know what awaits me in work scenario. I have some relations that needed to be entangled from the web of miscommunication… life is not going to be easy …not this fast.
Good byes are always tough for me. In my chilhood Maa had left me with my relatives after admitting me in class 1st at Chor Bazar Muncipal Urdu School. I had experienced the cutting away of my heart in two pieces at the age of five…. So its psychologicaly painful for me to say good-bye. (Mom still cries when I mention that morning when she left me to fend for myself…. off course I am glad she did. Else I wud not have gotten education in that badlands of U.P.)
When Steve says “ This is it man!”… I cry like a kid. I did not realize till then my little world has already taken roots in the soil of America. I had beautiful caring frnds that took care of me like a family. My roots had grown in that soil unknowingly…and am uprooting it. When I was falling in love, actually I was not just falling in love with A or FDR but the system…the culture…the air.
But, my world awaits me in India. There is no turning back now.
It’s a chilly autumn morning as my flights takes off from Hartsfield International airport. I look down from the window at the world I am leaving behind. I hear:
“ India is a dumpster…don’t go there”
“I love you. How do want me to meet you knowing that in a few months you will go back and I will never ever see you again?”
“I never thought I would fall in love with someone from overseas…. I love you with all my heart Shahid”
“You took a big leap from a municipal school to Georgia Tech, why undo it all? Don’t go back.”
"Ye Aasmano main kiya talash karta hai? Chal Cheetah 3 main tujhe Taare dikhataa hoon!!"
“This is home Shahid, this is home…there is no India for me now!”
Autumn, Mumbai, India
I reach Mumbai at 7pm.
And India refuses to recognize me immediately.
It’s a shocker I was not prepared for. Never thought about it. Have I changed? What part of me has been changed by America? I never picked up anything that did not meet my sensibility criteria then how come I am not recognizable now? I had frnds who never encouraged me to be anything but myself...I did not even pick up the damn accent?
I am confused. I am angry!
A story of a Hen and her chicks comes to mind.
A hen had 9 chicks. She used to hang out with them. Take care of them. Feed them. Protect them. One day the 9th chick fell into a drain full of colors. When he came out he went back to join the rest of his brothers. But they all refused to recognize him. They were seeing him in different color, while he was not aware of any colors on him.
The hen throws him out of the family. You are not one of us ..
Its been a while I read that story. I don’t remember how the story ended for that chick.
Just like I don’t know how this one is going to end!