Sunday, July 26, 2009

A brilliant couple

I am sure most of you who stay away from home have experienced this - your father or mother calling you up to ask you to call some so-and-so who stays in the same city as you, arguing that it is good to be in touch with known people when you are so far from home. You may not have the slightest of hint who that person may be, but just because your parents want you to be in touch with the person, you oblige them by dialling the given number as reluctantly as possible.

The other time, my father called up to say that one of his fellow distributor friends, a very respected blind ex-army official's daughter is married in London and that I must get in touch with her. 'But Papa, what will I talk to her? She must be quite old and I have only talked to Uncle a couple of times and that too when I was a kid'. He replied - 'She is a very nice girl (though I know he has never met her) and you know what - she has married an ex-army official who is blind arguing that since she has grown up helping her blind father, she has no reason to make a different choice'. I was flabbergasted – I dint know what to say and jotted down the number without uttering a word. How many of us would do so?

I gave her a call two weeks after this conversation, after having fought with myself many times over. I din't know in which language to greet her - so a fumbled me said a Bengali Namaskar, followed by a Hindi Namaste followed by an English how are you, all in one breath. She replied hi adding she was expecting my call as her father had briefed her about me. To break the ice she said what was going on in my mind - 'I know you must be feeling a little awkward making this call as our fathers want us to talk to absolute strangers giving us only small references. It happens with me a lot'. I could not agree with her more. We talked about 2020 cricket, Wimbledon and she invited me and my brother on one of the weekends.

Yesterday we visited their place for dinner, a house in a nice location close to Oval cricket stadium. It was a pleasure to meet the couple. I had the most fulfilling conversations with them. The husband Mr. G, was a Major in Indian army, had lost his eyes towards the end of Kargil war in 2000 during an anti-terrorist operation in Kupwara. For the first time I met somebody who had fought the Kargil war and had suffered injuries because of it. I could not stop a few tears, invisible to him and unheard to his wife. He was in various hospitals for the next two years and had met her in one of the hospitals. He was a delight to talk to. Given his life-changing experience, he talked very highly about the Indian army.

The lady of the house, our host Mrs. M, had cooked amazing Bengali food which we both loved. We stayed there for 4 long hours, dint stop talking even for a second. Mr. G currently works in an NGO for people with disability and Mrs. M works for an NGO against the recruitment of child soldiers across the globe. I told them about my initiation to help street children in India and they were very appreciative & supportive.

Meeting such great minds in life is so enriching. I called up my father to thank him. I will now meet everybody he asks me to meet without questioning.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Expecting 25

Every year during this time, I write a blogpost expressing my disdain over turning a year older. While I was turning 23, I felt myself inadequate to make my own decisions and pledged to take charge of my life. While turning 24, I realised that I had an enjoyable 23 and did not want to let it go.

Now while I am turning 25, I have mixed feelings. I am matured enough to understand that however much I wish, I cannot buy time and wish it to stop. I have to go with the flow. There is a plan in the pipeline to register a charity in the UK, a charity which will cater to the needs of the street children in India. A separate blogpost detailing this effort will follow in the days to come. I solicit the cooperation and the best wishes of you all in making this effort not only beneficial to the thousands of kids who deserve the same livelihood as ours but also enriching enough to keep us motivated and focussed throughout.

Some other aspects of turning 25 are – I am now allowed to open a pension fund of my own, essentially as I turn 25, I can start planning for my retirement. I will move to a higher age-group, from my current 18-24 age-group (the young person’s age-group in the UK) to 25 and above age-group. This means that I cannot avail any more discounts (eg. rail/bus) based on age anymore. Thoughts of marriage pop up here and there. Marriage is fun, only if you get to marry somebody you fall/rise in love. I am trying to gain knowledge and expertise in the responsibilities that come with a married life post 25.

Unlike all the years when I have strongly resisted turning older and pleaded time to stop ticking, this year is a bit different however. I do not want to resist it, as I understand that it will still happen (probably this is the maturity that I have gained in years 23 and 24), I rather want to pray that 25 turns out to be the best year yet of my life. I am looking forward to you 25, rock on!!