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Monday, August 20, 2012

Chp 415. Moving in to a new chapter

Life can be tough sometimes. And I am not talking about the recent North East incidents or communal riots and rumours. Those are depressing and I’ve already talked a lot about them. This post, is a happy happy post :-) For my happy happy readers :-)

Shifting house is a big pain. Staying as a guest at a friend’s place is not a very comfortable feeling either. But sometimes, one needs to go the extra mile to accomplish bigger dreams.

Yeah I’ve been literally “living out of a box” for the past three months now as a guest at the house of the CEO of the company where I work, because I took the drastic step of coming out of my comfort zone and changing my career in search of greener pastures a few months ago.

[My stuff]

Those boxes you see are mine. Unpacked. For three months now. Because I was supposed to work on something else (in Delhi) which eventually didn’t see the light of the day. Long story…

As much as I find the clich├ęd term “YOLO” stupid, I do believe sometimes we need to take certain risks to find our true calling. So when I got the golden opportunity to switch from advertising to head my own gaming team at our Delhi office, I left my home of 7 years (End of an ERA) to pursue that new career. Regular readers of my blog will know how passionate and crazy I am about gaming. Although I still can’t talk about what exactly happened, let’s just say I flew to Delhi and back like more than 20 times to seal the deal, until a better opportunity came up right here in Mumbai. I took that one instead, and it’s been an awesome rollercoaster ride so far…

And of course, like I mentioned before, shifting is a bitch. I ended up missing our “Class of ‘99” school reunion held at Bangalore because of this. Stephen even flew down all the way from Mizoram to make it for the 13th reunion, but I sadly had to miss it. And then I even ended up missing our “Mumbai Mizo Association Fresher’s Day” because we were busy fixing up our new house.

Here are some photos of the 2BHK duplex apartment where I was staying for the past 3 months, which we aptly named “King’s Landing”. (I know, Game of Thrones much we are)

One of the two bedrooms upstairs…

The staircase that connects the two floors. Dangerous it is! We used to joke about who among us would be the first one to fall, considering how we love our liquor, but ironically, the first person to tumble down the steps was completely sober! Fortunately she was alright, save for a bruised ankle and elbow.

Downstairs, the living room. This is where visitors are entertained; from company CEOs and COOs to a very cute dog named Marley.

This is where I play Mortal Kombat and other games on the PlayStation.

And if you think I don’t move my butt, oh you are so mistaken. 10 minutes of intense table tennis game or gladiator on the “PlayStation Move” and you’ll end up sweating like a pig, completely exhausted.

To show you how intense this game really is, this is me from the front side!

But of course I cannot be a guest forever. And all the happening pubs and discs in Bandra may be just a minimum auto-fare away, but it’s just not a proper apartment, by Mumbai standards (the entrance is quite shady compared to the interiors), and it’s not meant for three people to live in comfortably.

And so we searched for a new 3BHK apartment. Since I was the reason I was “breaking up the home”, I took up the responsibility of looking for such a place. Many places I looked with this broker and that broker, roaming all over Bandra & Khar, until I found the one place I fell in love with. 

My two future roomies then saw the place and they too fell in love with it immediately.

And then the drama began.

We agreed to the initial 90K monthly rental and 4 lakhs deposit, until another interested party came in the picture!

After that, it was like an auction war. Two parties trying to outbid each other, increasing the rental and deposit amount (while suffering a minor heart attack every time we bid). Eventually, we all agreed to a particular amount (which cannot be disclosed for the obvious reason), and so it was up to the landlord to decide who he wants to lease out his apartment to…

And so guess what?

He asked all six of us for out resumes!

Can you believe that? It’s like going for a job interview…

And so we mailed him our resumes, keeping our fingers crossed…

Lady Luck smiled on us! He was more impressed with our three resumes than the other three!

He flew down from Kuwait (where he’s running his own private company) a few days ago and we met him, laughed to his jokes, and sealed the agreement with his lawyers at the Mumbai Family Court. He was a really sweet guy, and we could understand how he was so concerned about leasing his apartment out to the right set of bachelors, keeping in mind how skeptical most apartment societies are about bachelors here in Mumbai.

[Below: The day we sealed the deal at the Family Court]

And so now, a new chapter has begun. Let’s hope our future will be as bright as our new apartment.

Last but not the least, here is me mentioning my friend Anant Rangaswamy in this blog post. lolz, hope Google catches this “mention” and alerts him. In fact I think I should do this every time I make a new post, hehehe…

G’nite and peace out.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chp 414. A not so “Happy Independence Day” post

It saddens me to write this piece especially after my last post “The impact of Mary Kom’s bronze, and what it means for the North East” where I was looking forward to the positive changes Mary Kom’s success in the Olympics would bring to us North Easterners.

Instead, today, on our Independence Day, every person from the North East staying outside the North East is living in fear and insecurity, because mobs of “miscreants” are moving around in a systematic fashion, attacking people from the North East and shouting “Sab chinki log ko mat chhodo”.

Chinkis, as we are “lovingly” called by most Indians, or “waiters” as people like gkhamba prefers to call us, are indeed a lovable lot to most Indians. So lovable that we are sometimes recognized as Indians only when somebody from the North East performs well for the country, but otherwise we are just chinkis, chinese, waiters, watchmen, momos, terrorists, outsiders, dog eaters, baby eaters. A laughing stock.

When the Ministry of Home Affairs stated that people uttering the racial slur “chinki” could be jailed, I wrote about the actual reasons behind this law, and how it is more about the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 which protects SC and ST people from discriminations and abuses based on one’s origin and background. Yet, most of the people on TOI website, First Post, various blogs and discussion forums like Sharell’s blog, Echo of India etc. were more infatuated with the name itself, slamming it as a ridiculous law.

Well, more than three months have passed since the MHA sent that order out. And how many people have actually been booked under this Act so far?  


Now where are all the whiners who whined about how unfair this law is? People from the North East are still being called chinkis everywhere, nothing has changed for them. In fact they are now being ridiculed even more than before because of this “unfair” law. So I guess this is your definition of “fair” huh?

Ah… India.

Yup, the Government loves to act as if it cares about us, but as many people say, at the end of the day, it just needs the North East as a buffer zone against China and Burma.

Forget about how people continue to call North Eastern people chinkis. Now gangs of misinformed Muslims are roaming the streets attacking chinki people. Yup that’s the word they're actually using. One of the attackers caught by the police said smses have been forwarded around, telling them to attack every chinki people they can find for killing their Muslim brothers in Assam and Burma!

I ask you once again, where are all those people who claim the word chinki is just a harmless term?

And this attack on people from the North East -> Sense, it makes none.

There is an ethnic violence in Assam between the Bodos and Bangladeshi immigrants. However unfortunate that incident may be, both sides have suffered a lot. Of course there are arguments and counter-arguments about how some of the Muslims are not illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, while other articles claim the Assamese Muslims too are against the Bangladeshi immigrants, and so on…

See, I am not getting into that topic. This post is not about who is right or wrong over there, as it is a very controversial and sensitive issue.

But when did it ever become a communal clash? Blame the great Indian media for giving it a communal color.

And when did it suddenly become a “Muslims versus North Easterner” issue? What did Mizos, Nagas, Manipuris, Kukis, Khasis etc. ever do to the Muslim community and how are they related in any way to the Bodos or the Burmese?

Every day, I read the newspaper with much anticipation and anxiety. “Another new attack on people from the North East, by people from a minority community”, the newspaper says. Ah, political correctness and semantics. They can be so funny sometimes. Who exactly is the minority here again?

As much as I appreciate the Social Media for bringing me the latest news possible, unfortunately, it is also a great medium to spread rumors. Or are they just rumors? And until that news is confirmed, the only thing a person from the North East can do is quietly panic. “Two Manipuris in Bangalore hacked to death by Muslim mob” – I panicked until the news was discovered to be false. “Tibetan battling for life after being stabbed in Mysore” – I decided not to panic, until I found out it was true. “Muslim cleric in Andhra Pradesh issues fatwa to all chinkis”. Now should I believe that? See, that is the situation we are currently living in.

I spoke to a Mizo friend of mine in Bangalore regarding this incident of targeting “chinkis”. He asked the same questions I asked earlier, “The Assam issue was never communal. How did it become communal? And if it’s becoming communal, shouldn’t it rather be “Muslims versus Hindus” instead of us being the victims? How did we, most of us Christians, ever get in the middle of this, just because they’re afraid to attack the Hindus?”

Bodos are (mostly) Hindus indeed. But again, that is definitely not the solution. Muslim community leaders are playing a great role in cities like Pune, telling their people to stop this madness. There is a great out-pour of sympathizers from the Muslim community, condemning this violence against people from the North East community. If we put every Muslims in the same bucket as those who are attacking us, then how different are we from those who attack us? Likewise, people in Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram etc. have been asked not to retaliate to the Muslims living in those states.

We need a strong voice to reach the Indian masses. And that is exactly what I wrote about in my previous post about Mary Kom. A lot of Indians are educated about the North East, but those are (usually) not the ones who discriminate or attack us. There is a huge class of people who are unaware of us, totally ignorant, and such people are not penetrated by tweets and blog posts like this.

We really need to take a kaleidoscopic view of this situation. Even if this current situation cools down and North Eastern people are no longer targeted, there are still many chances of such a situation flaring up again in the future. What if, say for example, somebody from Meghalaya murders a prominent Hindu swami or a popular politician? Can you confidently say Mizos, Nagas, Manipuris etc. will not face the brunt of the retaliation?

Can you?

Yup, that is the insecurity we will always live in. Happy Independence Day to you all.

Meanwhile, yes, you can continue with your jibes on chinkies because, as you can see for yourself, it is utterly hilarious. </sarcasm> Cheers!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Chp 413. Well done Mary Kom!

(The impact of Mary Kom’s bronze, and what it means for the North East.)

A few hours ago, Mary Kom lost her semi finals bout against home team’s Nicola Adams. I was here at home in Khar West, Mumbai, watching the match with my friends Akshay, Syed, Param, Pooja and Ajay. We actually set the alarm on our phones for 6pm so that we that we wouldn’t miss the fight. In fact we didn’t miss a single fight of hers this Olympics 2012.

She lost, but all of us were bloody proud of her.

I was especially proud of her because she’s from the North East.

I’m not trying to be ethnocentric here. I’m not saying, yay the reason I’m proud of her is because she’s from my region. No.

I’m extremely happy because now more people from India will know about the North East. If you’ve been a regular visitor at sites like TOI, you will be aware of the number of stupid comments and anti-NE hate comments on the comment section. This time, when TOI wrote about how Mary Kom apologized for winning “just” bronze, the comment section was flooded with love for her.

That made me cry with joy.

Like it or not, while most of the underprivileged sections of our society are fighting for rights and justice today, the main battle most people from the North East are fighting today is to be merely recognized as Indians.

Recognition. That is indeed a big issue. A few hours from now, Devendro Singh Laishram from Manipur has his match. I’ll be awake, cheering for him. In fact Manipur has provided a lot of Singhs in various fields like hockey, Sepak takraw, football and various martial arts forms. Unfortunately, from what I have experienced so far, when people see a Singh from Manipur on TV or print media, they assume he is from Punjab or other North Indian states. And again I have to tell them about the people from Manipur. See, that is what we hate. Wrong identification.

When Amitabh Bachchan tweeted about how he’s so proud of Mary Kom from Assam, there was of course a huge uproar from the North East, but I’m active on twitter and I observed right then that most of the people who responded immediately were not from the North East. That was a very positive sign. A trend we need to continue in the future. And he apologized shortly because of the overwhelming responses.

That is what we need – a mass effect from a mass media.

My good friend Anant Rangaswami, editor of First Post, once asked me what I have done for the North East. I told him frankly that when I am not busy working in the advertising industry, I try to blog and write as much as I can about the North East, such that Tehelka magazine once featured me to represent the Indian blogging community in their special edition “The Game changers from 2000-2009”.

His reply? “Good. But is that good enough?”

And he got a point indeed, never mind the ever cynic that he is. Most Tehelka readers are already aware of the North East, and that is not the target we need to educate. They are already educated. 

Baichung Bhutia was the poster boy of North East India. But again, Indians who are really into football already know about the North East. Similarly, the Indian rock music scene - Mizo bands like Boomerang, Scavenger Project, IIIrd Sovereign etc are famous in India, but again, such people who love these bands are already aware about the North East. The same thing goes for awesome Shillong bands like Soulmate and their fans.

The people we need to address do not belong to these genres. We need to reach out to the majority mass. The ones who think we are all from Nepal or China.

And that is what Sourabhee Debbarman from Tripura (Indian Idol season 4) did in 2009, becoming the first female Indian Idol winner. Prashant Tamang (Indian Idol season 3), well technically not from the North East, too did us a favour. And then there’s Meiyang Chang (Top 10 finalist Indian Idol season 3). Nah, he’s not even North Eastern, but I am really proud of his achievements and am a fan of his. Shows like these reach the right audience we need to address.

And now, Mary Kom has become the next messenger, the North Eastern messiah.

She appealed to the common man, surprising them about her Indianness and how such a person can be from India. She won the hearts of the people, and the people lovingly called her Magnificent Mary. She built a large fan following and the media wrote about her and her origin everywhere.

I may have been a long time fan of Mary Kom, but I am especially proud of her performance this Olympics and I hope she continues to shine for India and the North East. God bless her.

Things have indeed been better for people from the North East from the time I first started blogging in 2004. We need a change, a revolution, and that is possible only through a few selected gifted people like Mary Kom. Cheers and goodnight to you all.