With or without you

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I lay in my bed thinking about you,

I love you so much and don’t know what to do.

I feel your warmth at my side,

And the pain in my heart moves to my eye,

So far yet so near,

You are the reason I want to be there.

I await the time when we can talk,

With hands in hands we can walk,

To be with you zeal, so close to me,

The happiest person in the world is what that would make me.

-Jigar Rajpura

Distance

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 As sweet as honey,

As fresh as morning dew,

Zeal, your chirping conquers my Monday blues

You make me smile

and seldom let me cry

you are my motivation

to stop eating cheese fry

A glimpse of you

Is a rare sight

But a weekend session of skype

Is a healthy delight

They say ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’

I cannot agree further

Its ironically the closeness within this distance

That binds us together.

-Jigar Rajpura

Intezaar

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Phir aaj koi ghazal tere naam na ho jaye,

Kahin likhte likhte shaam na ho jaye,

Kar rahein hain intezaar ab hum tumhara aye zeal,

Isi intezaar mein hum aashiq badnaam na ho jaye.

-Jigar Rajpura

December breaks…history that repeats every 18 months..

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A sunny morning with a frosty window, rays of sun piercing through the flakes into my room, making a narrow beam of light right above below my forehead. This is what woke me up. Those multiple alarms that my smartphone claims to have cannot beat this. Any day. It’s 9AM and rays of sun are pretty rare in this time of the year. I drag myself out of the bed knowing that its a matter of few more hours I shall be done with the chores of the year. The month is December, date, 17. The day my exams for the semester end and I fly away to where I belong.

It often feels like a migrating bird, yes, that is what I am called here anyway. An immigrant. I am not a lonely individual and love to have company around me. Thankfully, that, I have enough off. A bunch of like minded friends and co-workers. Ask me about my life, and I might reply this more often than not: “Can’t complain.” But nothing really beats the fluttering within when Boeing 747 touches the gravel at Mumbai airport, India. The place that I often land when I return back. To think of it, I never say: “I am returning back to USA”, when I leave India. I always say, “I am going back”, “I am returning back” is only reserved for the country I belong to. I have often had elders of the family talking among themselves about how every one who comes to USA doesn’t ever come back. Every single time I hear them say that, I say to myself, “I will prove them wrong”.  Not just for the sake of proving them wrong, is the reason that I want to come back. I have some plans, larger plans, that seem “larger than life” right now. But, yes, I would be back. Yes, I can safely say this after 5 years of stay in USA. Yes, it’s a beautiful country. I mean come on, with me hailing from Gujarat, India, a dry state (temperature wise, not otherwise), getting to see leaves change color and then skeleton trees being covered in snow is a sight that always pleases my eyes. No matter how morbid it gets in winters. However, USA is not for me. I would drop this at that only. Some other time in some other blog. Today is not the day I talk about why India and why not USA.

So, the exam looks relatively easy on first look, as it always does. It only starts getting mysterious like a women, the more I try to read in between the lines of the questions and keep pondering why din’t I pay attention in the class when he was talking about it! Some plans are made to make it a point to take seriously the next semester, as soon as it begins. I think of the success that I might achieve after that in the following semester and some one drops a pencil somewhere thankfully bringing me back to the exam. I move on to the next summit, thinking of coming back to it going downhill. The clock nears end and I wind up my work to leave. A sense of relaxation, contempt and satisfaction almost gets knocked out by the reminiscence of grades that I shall get in a few weeks. However, that does not change my stride and I walk with head held up high. At least I  got done with the exams. The rest is not in my hands. Selecting a good song on the iPod and humm away the exam blues.

Glad to have seen snowfall before leaving the country although at the back of mind dearly hoping it doesn’t delay my flight and get me stranded on the tarmac for the rest of my vacation. In anticipation I am usually packed and prepared for the trip before the exam week begins. A week before the final’s week, I spend time packing my bags and purchasing gifts for peeps back home. At times I wonder do they anticipate my return or the gifts that I bring for them. I have a feeling its the latter. Anyhow, my priority is to pack bags and then search for notes and compile them for exams. That is how it should be. Think about it. You are busy breaking your head over a statistic problem and you spot a sock/a shirt lying around in your room and instantly mind flies to the thought Am I taking this shirt with me to India? Din’t I just take it along the last time I went? But then the decision lies in the fact whether it is washed or not. If it’s washed, no point taking it. Not washed? Take it! Take it! Without another question. I get up and fold the shirt neatly to put it in the bag. Now, back to the problem at hand. Statistics problem. See how it goes. So, pack your bags before you begin.

Reaching the airport and getting away from house (USA) is the top priority today. Check for papers, passport, ticket, I-20, I-94. Lock bags. Check for papers, passport, I-20,I-94. Wait. I missed something. Repeat the drill. Ticket. Gosh! Put on the army jacket that I so love, stuff all the papers in every other pocket and get ready for the security check. Always, remember, always select your seats while booking your flight. This avoids all the pleading and begging to the person who gives you your boarding pass. I have watched “Up in the Air” umpteenth times. I just like the movie. For the records, nothing George Clooney says, stands true when standing in the line for security check ins. Of course if you are that someone with millions of miles on your frequent flying card, even god can’t stop you anywhere in the line! I for one am always prepared for the check in. My trick is very simple: I stuff my belt, wallet, watch, everything in my jacket. Laptop is always packed in security check approved cases so I don’t have to remove them and shoes are always slip on that make my life easy.

After the security check in ordeal, its time to hunt for the charging point. Theres usually a wait for almost 2 hours before the gates open to boarding the plane. Yes, I am always unusually early. Then they start calling out seat numbers that can begin boarding. Women and children have a priority. How I wish I get on my knees and start acting child like with a drooling mouth and cling on to some lady’s bags. Seat numbers 13-26 please line up for boarding. I look at my seat number: 33. Great. Time to enter the line. My turn comes, and the stewardess goes like: Sir, you are 33, we are boarding only up to 26. Please stand aside. A while later. 26-42 please line up. Guess who’s the first one in the line now Girl! Aisle seat, that reclines back, although economy class and the person seating next to me does me a huge favor. He/She is late and cannot make it for the flight. Extra space. And the feeling to play “this song” when the plane touches the runway. 

Priceless!

Cricket in USA

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“One more round”. “A little faster”. “Build up the stamina,” yells our team captain. A warm up includes 2-3 rounds on a bright sunny evening that usually begins at 5PM and ends at 9PM with the sun going down and almost making it impossible to watch the red ball coming on to the bat. Born and brought up in India, cricket is infused as a religion, more so a unifying sport among fellow friends here in USA.

We are Purdue University Cricket Club (PUCC) and we represent our university at regional level cricket tournaments. Playing in gully’s back home with taped balls and hand made wooden bats and coke bottle stands as makeshift wickets, having 2 entire fields with cemented pitch dedicated for our sport, sponsored by the university in USA was a little surprise for me. Not so much for the veteran players who were already establishing milestone victories and making our presence felt in the mid-west  region.

Not many sports are publicized here, except a few that gain overnight popularity. These include football (American football, the one with an oblong ball), baseball (the one with a ball very similar to cricket, except they play with a bat that resembles our stumps). As a part of community service work, being a club in constant demand for funds from the university, in order to attain attention and mileage, we visited an elementary school representing Purdue and the sport we call “Cricket”. The audience in the gymnasium included a group of kids right from first grade to the fourth, excited to see us with weird looking flat paddles made out of wood. Upon asking the first question to break ice, “How many of you here have heard of Cricket”? To our surprise, almost unanimously all the kids raised their hand, until one of the school teachers interjected, “the boys are talking about the sport not the animal”, and the sea of raised arms came tumbling down. However, the enthusiasm to know more about the sport and actually try their hands on it was undying. After a brief explanation of the bowling action, the running between the wickets and a small comparison between cricket and baseball, a few questions started pouring in. This was an indicator that they were listening, keenly. When given a chance later to have a try out with the bowling and batting, some kids never have held a paddle in their hands, wielded some good cricketing shots at their age exhibiting a spark of interest.

As of now we have almost 50 teams across the nation playing through division I, II and III level cricket that includes mainly players from south-east Asia origin and a handful West Indies and Australians. These are mainly international students studying in the country or the ones who have immigrated a generation back. Inception of the sport among the US is strong, however limited to these elite group of so called outsiders. Remembering the curious faces of the kids in the elementary school bring a thought to my mind, Can this sport flourish here too? After all, it is the second most viewed sport in the world. But, it seems a far fetched dream, although right doors are being opened and right boxes are being ticked, time will unfold with a new nation venerating the sport that we love so much. It is nearing the end of my third round and exhaustion is getting over me, I need to sprint the last lap and pad up for some throw downs.

Rockstar: A movie review

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“Sadda Haq, aethe rakh”..yelling it on top of my voice, I for one was very excited for the movie to release.  I have sort of liked previous movies made by Imtiaz Ali. His directorial ventures include block busters like “Jab we met” and “Love Aaj Kal”.  The former was a near masterpiece, the latter, a good watch. With pretty Nargis in trailers and Ranbir strumming addictive tunes, I was all game for the movie night watching Rockstar. The ambience set, a pack of chips, a few soda cans, salted pop-corn and nacho dip.

Movie begins with a set of a stage. Ranbir is however, no where to be seen, only his posters in a country that is not India. Cut. Scene moves to Ranbir battling for his life amongst a few cops/hooligans, trust me it wasn’t easy to decipher. But, our bollywood hero emerges winner, escapes the clutches of 6 men bigger than him and fled through the scenic alleys of some random city.  He boards a bus in between, ofcourse without a ticket, and gets down at the stop where passengers in the bus start recognizing him looking at the posters the city is covered with. Why am I being so picky, you ask. Well, let it go. Appreciate the chase scene Ranbir was in, and his attitude when he breaks the barricades to enter his own concert where he is stopped by the security guard, for his own concert!

Moving on, the scene cuts to flashback. Imtiaz Ali, famous (read as infamous) for his flashbacks in movies, that he handles as well as a kid suffering from dyslexia. (No offence intended to these kids, just Imtiaz.) Flashback scene takes us to a canteen where sadda Ranbir is sipping on kulhad ki chai and dreaming of becoming big. Elvis Presley big. With a guitar in hand and friends constantly downgrading him.

He however finds solace in the canteen owner who gives him the ultimate guru mantra to be successful in life.                                                            “Fall in love”->”break-up” -> “my heart is paining”-> “instant heart touching lyrics start flowing” -> “Rockstar status acheived”!

I was so hoping this is not the plot of the movie. No way, come on Imtiaz don’t stick to this and bring up something more rational, better, logical, understandable. I am not a picky critic, very easy going, but please not this! And alas, Imtiaz pays no heed to the outcries of the audience. Entire film is based on the single premise. Everything else unfolds on its own.

Remember the trailer where he proposes Nargis (who looks more a duck face with a pout bigger than Kangna Ranaut, atleast the latter got a cheap surgeon, but why for god’s sake Nargis had to pout!) and she turns him down. That my friends is the heart of the movie. Ranbir is heart broken and ends up gorging on samosas to wash out his pain, with extra dose of chutney. Ofcourse, as expected, the story unfolds in both of them actually falling in love after spending some crazy nympho moments with each other. Eg: Watching Junglee jawani together! What love emerged from the movie that overflowed on them and they fall for each other. But just like Love aaj kal, our Hero fails to recognize asli pyaar and Nargis gets married to a firanng in London. Yes, Imtiaz is trying to different from his previous movie where Deepika breaks the marriage, here Nargis does get married but has intimate affair with Ranbir! That is what love is- according to our director Imtiaz Ali.

As random as the plot sounds, that is how crappy the movie and screenplay is.

Here is a good graphic I found on a blog written by Vigil-Dot! Kudos to his skills and thoughts about the movie. I would suggest you to go through the graphic below only after watching the movie. This will allow you to share my grief and that of the artist’s who drew the sketch.

Other than selected few songs and AR Rahman, the movie sucks. Literally. Doesn’t deserve my shelf space or hard disk space at all. I would rate this movie worse than “Ra. One”, but better than “Bodyguard”.

Enjoy the graphic: