Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Meaningful Fate

What does Fate mean?
  - The development of events outside of a person's control, regarded as predetermined by a    supernatural power.

I try to look at things objectively and when I do so, things that provide me with no logical or scientific explanation are discarded by me outright!
But again, life has its moments with depths of secrets in them; most often hard to comprehend yet sometimes meaningful!

Here is one story of a Fate, that I deem meaningful-

Back in 1980's in United States, arose a Cult Group lead by a man in late 20's named Jeff James aka JJ. The group made their own music, idolized the Rock band ‘Guns n Roses’, obtained weed as they nomad-ed themselves from the West Coast to the East Coast.

The group was called "Hither Slither" and JJ was a self proclaimed Prophet with Radical views on Christianity, had implacable taste in music and a charming influential personality that attracted numerous youngsters who also became a part of this cult.

The group comprised of 40 people, 20 men, 15 women and 5 of their children but none knew who their leader really was until one day, Hither Slither traveled to Florida- perched their tent in a non-marshy patch away from domestic population and the following day, JJ was arrested on accounts of 24 first degree murders.

The Story goes like this -

Almost 30 years back, in the wee hours of a cloudy morning, a man wearing a dark oversize coat and a hood knocks at the door of a Fresno resident in California. An old woman and the only resident of the house partially opens the door to inquire on the visitor, within moments the man pushes the door open and strucks the old lady dead with a baseball bat and leaves with the only piece of jewellery on her - a small diamond ring that was her remembrance of her dead husband.

A year later, another home-alone woman in Portland is killed in the early hours of the morning and the only missing thing was a flimsy gold chain. But this time, the pendent in the chain slits a finger of the killer and he leaves behind few drops of blood in the driveway. At that time, the forensics had not advanced to DNA testing, the drops of blood were collected and analyzed only for its blood group; which was co-incidentally a match to the victim’s own blood group and so the blood was assumed to be of the victim’s.

The count of these home-alone old women killings increased to 24 in 30 years and the FBI failed to get any tangible evidences - finger prints, blood, tissue or eye witnesses that could lead them to the murderer.
The killer was called the ‘home-alone’ killer by the media and the only established MO (Modus Operandi /Method of Operation) was known to be- the time of the killings - all early hours of the day, all victims to be old home-alone women and only one piece of jewellery missing from their body.

In the present day, a bizarre accident is reported in Central Park, Florida. A young jogger identified as Amy Watts, pounces and attacks a hippie. The hippie shoves her attacker with a pocket knife that accidentally slits her jugular vein and Amy bleeds to death before the medical aid arrives.
The hippie is taken into custody and all eye witnesses are questioned. The statements from all the witnesses are unanimous - Amy was seen attacking the hippie without any provocation and her only words were - "It is mine".

The police investigate into Amy's history and find that she had reported a house theft couple of months back and a gold chain with a blue carved stone pendent was listed as one of the many items stolen. The description of that particular stolen item was a match to the jewellery the hippie wore that day.
The hippie claimed it to be a gift from her boyfriend JJ and this lead the police to raid the Hither Slither tent. Their belongings were searched and few jewelleries along with some cash and weed were recovered.

JJ and others were questioned about Amy’s house burglary. But the police could not place them to Amy’s house at the time of theft and the group also had their alibis in Alabama. On questioning, JJ stated that he found gold chain in a pawn shop few weeks back.

Just when the investigators had made up their mind to let go of Hither Slither, Amy’s parents arrived at the Police Station. Amy’s mother was given the gold chain for identification.

She oddly stared at the chain for what seemed to be more than couple of minutes and then burst into tears. She told the investigators that though it seemed to look like Amy’s stolen chain but it wasn’t. The stone carvings of the pendent was different from Amy’s but she could still recognize the chain. It was her mother’s -Amy’s grandmother’s.  She was killed 29 years back in Portland and this was the chain that was taken away by the ‘home-alone’ killer. Amy’s mother had custom-made a look-alike in her mother’s memory and had presented it to Amy on her high school graduation.

This unexpected turn of events baffled the Investigators and all the old data leading to ‘home-alone’ Murders in different states in US were pulled out.
Sure enough they found the Portland Murder Case that happened 29 years back and the missing jewellery description matched with the one they had in their procession. It was still important for the Investigators to place Hither Slither at the crime scene to build enough evidence for a conviction.

As they read the Murder Case file they learnt about the suspected blood in the driveway which was ruled out as the murderer’s after a blood group match.  Requests were sent to Portland, to retrieve the evidence boxes and meanwhile every piece of missing jewellery from the home-alone victims were compared to those found in the groups’ belongings. All the 24 jewelries were found to be a confirmed match to the 24 victims.

The following day, the evidence box that also contained the driveway blood swab reached the Investigators.  Hither Slither’s DNA samples were taken. And the blood swab was run against the DNA from every member of the group. The report came back with a positive match to JJ.

JJ was rigorously interrogated and he finally confessed to all 24 killings –killings without any provocation or motive in the last 30 years and the jewellery that he took from his victims were their souvenirs to him!

And so the ‘home-alone’ mystery was solved and a serial killer was put out for good.
At this stage, I particularly think of Amy Watt’s role in this story. Was she a victim of fate or an angel with a destiny, which prevented many more women from dying and in pursuit, also brought justice to her own grandmother?

Objectively, it could just be a chance or a coincidence. But a chance this elaborate is hard to comprehend or to be objective about. These are one of those situations that I cannot discard or disregard. 

Although in a different context, I do feel sorry about Amy for not surviving to see how she had turned the history & the future around! 

PS – The story is work of fiction, the characters written and created are by Pooja Das.

Monday, June 14, 2010


When I hear somebody sigh, "Life is hard," I am always tempted to ask, "Compared to what? - Sydney J. Harris

Life is such a heavy word; it is so complicated to pen what you think of it and what you want to do of it. On a deeper thought, nothing is too complicated; it is just the way we look at it.

Most often than not, our relationships take a toll on us, it’s not always possible to maintain a cordial relation with everyone in your network chain. Life seems miserable-drowning in stress, complains, fights and rifts. We don’t have to learn the art to tackle or the lessons of being patient, all we have to learn is to let go.

Miseries, unhappiness, distress are too much of a burden or rather an additional baggage. Let it go. With whatever little dignity left in your relationship, try to come out. It’s hard to build a complicated web around you, which you don’t need to anyway; you might just get engulfed in it. Just remember, travel light- shed the excess baggage.

A friend told me once, after attending his grandmom’s funeral – ‘You scream, you yell, you get disappointed and frustrated with such trivial things in life which you consider might be important at that time. You have no idea what the next moment has in store for you, you have no idea how much time is left with you, but one thing is certain; one day you will be reduced to ashes.’

It was an awakening. It made me realize, life is actually very simple. All you need to do is just follow your heart and do what you want to, whether that leads to success of failure, it’s altogether a different thing. But we live just once and if we don’t do what we desire to do now, there is no second chance.

What is life without some pain and struggle may be if everything was going fine with life we would have longed for some excitement! You don’t need friends or relatives just to have a decent funeral for yourself, I mean how good is all that after you are dead? But you need all these people to make your life comfortable, exciting, un-lonely, happy and easy.

The thought of having someone no matter how near or far, just the fact that someone is always going to be there for you, makes you fearless isn’t it?

Embrace life the way it is, do not complain, you chose it right? Even if you felt it was thrusted upon you, you still accepted it. There is no tried and tested formula of living a contented life, all you have to do is travel light, shed the excess baggage and don’t forget to collect souvenirs while you are on move.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My review - Johnny Gone Down

The best thing about Johnny Gone Down is the cover. It is simply marvellous. The Buddha statue, the Christ the Redeemer, the Statue of Liberty, the Taj Mahal, computers, flights pointing particular direction, danger sign, smoke alcohol drugs, blade, shooting guns, outer space and so much more!!!

So when you study the cover before starting the book, you know for sure that you are seated for an intercontinental ride. I really liked the way Karan describes the Khmer Rouge era, the killings the torture, it was as though I was watching it, the pregnant women-stabbed, Nikhil eyeing the second rice bowl - the hunger "or even just the smell"..it was so real and so horrible, "He never rose again.Everyday I envied him", “they removed the body when the smell bothered them”...I have never read a description like this, its pain and defeat written all over. "they had converted a school into torture chamber for educated bourgeoisie"...The Cambodian chapter was the most interesting, most horrifying and most painful.

This is a line from Khmer Rouge Wiki:

Money was abolished, books were burned, teachers, merchants, and almost the entire intellectual elite of the country were murdered, to make the agricultural communism, as Pol Pot envisioned it, a reality. The planned relocation to the countryside resulted in the complete halt of almost all economic activity: even schools and hospitals were closed, as well as banks, and industrial and service companies.

Hats off to the author for writing the story so well.

Small details like Marco using.."men", I could actually hear his accent! "I spent every moment I could glued to my chair; only my fingers on the mouse moved, edging my icon closer to Lara's so we could be together..", “she signed out in the evening to take care of our son, I thought hopefully, I would start working on virtual environment adding tools and option that I thought could please her.” The desperation of getting her back Virtually!!! Thinking of what the person is going through, his state of mind, he wanting his wife so much that even her icon gives him a bout of new life, adding tools to please her! Pain described liked this...the last time I felt like this way was while reading Jeffrey Archer's Kane and Abel (the way Archer described Abel tied up and forced to watch his sister being brutally raped by American soldiers and his sister ultimately bleeding to death... I remember myself sobbing!).

But the end, -- the duel, the guy turning out to be Sam's servant, meeting Sam at the wedding, reuniting with Lara. All this was too Bollywoodish or the masala Hindi movie. I would have liked it more real, even Gump losses his wife in the end. The best thing about Keep Off the Grass was its epilogue and we Indians love happy endings. That way this ending should be the best part too, but still it could have been a more believable happy ending.

To summarize, the novel is really very good. It kind of reminds me of Sidney Sheldon, complete package of drama, spirituality, sorrow, love, lust, gang fights, wealth, poverty, pain, despair and success against all odds.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Big FAT world of NEPOTISM!

Nepotism simply means the showing of favoritism for relatives or friends based upon that relationship, rather than on an objective evaluation of ability or suitability.

When I hear NEPOTISM, few names flash across my mind instantly.

The much celebrated Mr. M. Karunanidhi, with his clan. I wonder how many of his wives, children, grand-children, nieces and nephews will Indian Politics have to deal with.

Though I admire this guy who is in charge of Youth Congress and National Students Union of India, and the most sought after politician in India, Mr Rahul Gandhi, I cannot help but smile at this irony, “It is undemocratic that the Congress is still led by a Gandhi. But it’s a fact of life in India that success in politics depends on who you know or are related to. I want to change the system”, says Rahul Gandhi.

We have got the Tatas, Birlas, Ambanis, Sarabhais, Bajajs and we have got Indian Politics, so what’s common between them? The answer is all of them are family businesses. It’s an unsaid law in Indian Politics, “Parliamentary seats can be inherited”.

It’s not far away either, when wives, sons, daughters, son-in-laws, daughter-in-laws, step- children, distant cousins, will be on the road, demanding their share of quota on the already quota burdened seats in the Parliament!

Which part of the world has not heard of the Nehru-Gandhi Family?

Who can forget Sanjay Gandhi, his infamous abilities and role during the Emergency!

The most obvious recent example is the rise of Rahul Gandhi, widely described as a “future Prime Minister", despite his lifelong lack of success in academic and professional life, including his failure to graduate from Harvard College, his admission to Harvard also having been seen as a "non-merit exception" courtesy wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rahul_Gandhi.

Well, it’s not just our Indian politics which seems to have caught the nepotism cold; there are big political families across the world also following suit.

The Bhutto family:

The largest and most influential political family in Pakistan.

It all started with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto founder of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). In spite of all the controversies he has voluntarily participated, he still remains the most popular leader of the country. He was profoundly criticized for opportunism and intimidating his political opponents, blamed for slowing down Pakistan's economic progress owing to poor productivity and high costs.

His much celebrated daughter, Benazir Bhutto Pakistan's first and to date only female Prime Minister, and also served twice as the Prime Minister, had faced charges of corruption, including a charge of laundering money through Swiss banks.

The 11th and current President of Pakistan and the Co-Chairman of PPP, Asif Ali Zardari , is the widower of Benazir Bhutto. He is one of the five richest men in Pakistan with an estimated worth of US$1.8 billion, from relatively unknown figure in Pakistan to becoming Benazir Bhutto’s husband, to becoming the President of the country, he has come a long way (seems like one of those rags to riches fairy tale) not to forget the criminal charges, for money laundering and 8 years tenure in jail.

Terrific history isn’t it?

The Ziaur Rahman Family of Bangladesh:

Major General Ziaur Rahman was a charismatic Bangladeshi war hero, politician and statesman. He was the President of Bangladesh from 1976 until 1981 and founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), one of the largest political parties in the country. Ziaur Rahman is considered one of the most important and controversial political leaders of Bangladesh and has been criticized for ruthless treatment of his political opposition.

After his assassination, his wife Begum Khaleda Zia became the head of BNP, and was elected thrice as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. In September 2, 2007 she was detained and later arrested in corruption charges.

Their son, Tareq Rahman, a senior politician was allegedly involved in numerous corruption scandals and was also arrested.

The United States:

United States is no less than the South Asian dynasties.

We have seen the Kennedys, Bushes, Roosevelts, Harrisons.

Politics is not the only field, we have heard/seen the Kapoors, Khans, Bachchans, Roshans, Chopras of the Hindi entertainment world and the Barrymores, Freemans, Streeps of the west.

Nepotism also marks the end of transparency and professionalism, but then why do you think its thriving and prospering? One possible explanation is, nepotism sells, it has commercial brand value and common people come under the spell.

The accumulation of drama, the intense scrutiny, battles for power, hunger for publicity in the family makes the clan all the more visible, so as they say, “You can love them, you can hate them, but you cannot ignore them”.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The missing rib

In the world today, all of us work hard, to stay alive, to secure our jobs, panic at the slightest mention of "lay-offs", cannot afford to waste time recreating, it doesn't matter how much we give our best, all that matters is, our best should be better than somebody else's best.

Somewhere in all the tension and stress, our personal life takes a back seat. We seldom realize how miserable we make people around us feel with our behavior. Here is a story, very close to me, which has always helped me to keep a check on my attitude and behavior and to never cross my limit, for I know it might be very late to feel sorry later.

A girl in love asked her boyfriend.
Girl: Tell me… who do you love most in this world?
Boy: You, of course!
Girl: In your heart, what am I to you?
Boy: The boy thought for a moment and looked intently in her eyes and said, "You are my rib. In the Bible, it was said that God saw that Adam was lonely, during his sleep; God took one of Adam's rib and created Eve. Every man has been searching for his missing rib, only when you find the woman of your life; you'll no longer feel the lingering ache in your heart."

After their wedding, the couple had a sweet and happy life for a while.However, the youthful couple began to drift apart due to the busy schedule of life and the never-ending worries of daily problems. Their life became mundane. All the challenges posed by the harsh realities of life began to gnaw away their dreams and love for each other. The couple began to have more quarrels and each quarrel became more heated.

One day, after the quarrel, the girl ran out of the house. At the opposite side of the road, she shouted, "You don't love me!" The boy hated her childishness and out of impulse, retorted,"Maybe, it was a mistake for us to be together! You were never my missing rib!"Suddenly, she turned quiet and stood there for along while. He regretted what he said but words spoken are like thrown away water, you can never take it back. With tears, she went home to pack her things and was determined in breaking-up.

Before she left the house, "If I'm really not your missing rib, please let me go.She continued, "It is less painful this way, let us go on our separate ways and search for our ownpartners…"

Five years went by…. He never remarried but he had tried to find out about her life indirectly. She had left the country and back she had married a foreigner and divorced. He felt anguished that she never waited for him. In the dark and lonely night,he lit his cigarette and felt the lingering ache in his heart. He couldn't bring himself to admit that he was missing her.

One day, they finally met. At the airport, a place where there were many reunions and good-byes. He was going away on a business trip. She was standing there alone, with just the security door separating them. She smiled at him gently.

Boy: How are you?
Girl: I'm fine. How about you. Have you found your missing rib?
Boy: No.
Girl: I'll be flying to New York in the next flight.
Boy: I'll be back in 2 weeks time. Give me a call when you are back.You know my number. Nothing has changed.
With a smile, she turned around and waved good-bye."Good-bye."One week later, he heard of her death. She had perished in New York. In the event that shocked the world.

Midnight, once again, he lit his cigarette. And like before, he felt the lingering ache in his heart. He finally knew, she was the missing rib that he had so carelessly broken.

Sometimes, people say things out of moments of fury. Most often than not, the outcome could be disastrous and detrimental.We vent our frustrations 99% at our loved ones. And eventhough we know that we ought to "think twice and act wisely" , it's often easier said than done. Things happen each day, many of which are beyond our control. Let us treasure every moment and everyone in our lives.

Tomorrow may never come; give and accept what you have today. Hope you all find your right missing ribs and when you find them, don't forget to tell them what they are for you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Closest to facts

I still remember my life as a student. Just like most of the children of my age, I was very self-conscious, dealing all the time with peer pressure, pressure to make my parents proud when they see my report card in other words, devote my entire time into studying.

My funda in life was simple, sleep as little as possible (I considered sleeping, a waste of time), no watching TV (even if it meant daily news), never eat too much (because food makes you sleepy) and utilize all the time I had saved from not recreating into studying.

It had its own pros and cons, although it made my report card very attractive to my parent's delight but it also drifted me from reality. In other words, my world was limited to my study room, forget about the outside world, I dint know who my neighbors were.

Until one day I came shockingly close to reality.

It was an internal elocution competition which was conducted once a year in my school, I had been winning it for 3 years in a row and this one was my last competition ( I was in my 12th grade).
This was more of a prestige issue than just participation. I promised myself, no matter what, I am gonna win this.

The topic given to us this year, unlike the previous years were more socially relevant. And the topic given to me was " AFTERMATH OF THE GODHRA VIOLENCE".

My confidence smashed into pieces, I knew that there was some violence in Gujarat, lot of people died, something to do with Hindu-Muslim clash but what exactly happened, how did the incident start, what fueled it, I knew nothing about it. Nevertheless, we were given 4 days to prepare, and somewhere, I knew I could do it.

The same day, I started my research. What caught my attention was, "1044 people were killed in the violence - 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus including those killed in the Godhra train fire. Another 223 people were reported missing, 2,548 injured, 919 women widowed and 606 children orphaned".

My jaw dropped, what the hell was I doing when all this was happening in my own country, not that I could do anything about it but atleast I had known. What came next was more disgusting and shocking, it was about a minor family, the head of the family was brutally mutilated in front of his wife and 5 children ( all girls between 6-14 years) and each of them were raped and set on fire alive. Hundreds of other family suffered the same fate.

This was just the beginning, as I read on, never in my imagination I knew this coming, a high profile case involved an Ex-Congress Ehsan Jafri, who was surrounded by Hindu mobs, 2000 of them while many other Muslim residents in the area took shelter in his compound. Jafri was believed to have contacted the local police stations, MPs of the area as well as the Chief Minister to save the people from the ever increasing mob. However, no police reinforcement had reached his place and the few policemen present were ineffective and unwilling to control the violent mob. What came next was, the mob chopped off his hand and legs with the sword and burnt him with 50 other Muslims.

The Aftermath of the Godhra violence was just an eye wash, BJP-led central government demanded the dismissal of Gujarat Chief Minister for failing to contain the violence, who got re-elected later. Followed by atleast 29 people getting killed when Islamic fundamentalist gunmen engaged in the Akshardham Temple attack in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

My eyes grew faint as my heart sank, there is so much of filthiness in the world that sometimes you are bound to think, what is the purpose of my life. What is that I am going to achieve by studying which will make the world a better place to live. Somehow that day, I realized the most effective learning comes form the world outside and not from the textbooks. It is not important to be a scholar, but it is more important to be a good human.

I won my last competition in school but more than that I was happy to have learnt how valuable FORGIVENESS is. I knew how resentment and hatred can cruely exploit human mind.

It has been over 6 yrs now, but the entire incident is as fresh as ever.....

History does nothing; it does not possess immense riches, it does not fight battles. It is men, real, living, who do all this. --- KARL MARX