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A Lost Chess Game Made Him One Of World’s Best Known Bodybuilders, And Yet He Faced Discrimination! The Unbelievable Story of Pradip Kumar

Pradip Kumar


It is a bright morning in Imphal and the smile on the face of my host is just as bright and friendly. He greets me with his charming smile at the Khuman Lampak Sports complex at heart of Imphal city, the capital of Manipur the powerhouse of Indian sports. K. Pradip Kumar, the man I have come to meet is a sportsperson of international repute. The former Mr. Asia and Mr. World bronze medalist is an internationally renowned bodybuilder and trainer. Several bodybuilders have gained national and international fame under his guidance till now. But behind this story of success and fame, there is a saga of struggle and perseverance that motivates people to be positive about life. His story is as exciting as a blockbuster movie and a source of inspiration for people around the world. It is the story of a man who not just refused to succumb to the cruelty of fate and society but also emerged much stronger than ever both mentally and physically. Destiny tried to beak him but he had other plans.


A normal childhood

Born in Manipur, K Pradip Kumar’s childhood was just like any other kid. He went to school and spent time playing with his siblings at home. “I never skipped school and would often arrive home very late after classes were over. To evade punishment I would instantly come up with some stories. I was creative.” Says Pradip Kumar with his signature smile. Young Pradip would prefer the company of older boys rather than his contemporaries. The conversations and games of his contemporaries did not impress him. A few years later, this would change his life forever.


One little mistake

In the early eighties, Pradip started taking drugs when he was at 6th or 7th standard.  At that time the drug peddlers had just infiltrated into Manipur and narcotic substances were made available at very low prices. People were still not aware of the dreadful consequences of taking drugs or sharing hypodermic syringes. Drugs had become the ‘in’ thing.  Pradip too fell into this trap. He was lured into the world of drugs by some of his friends. One of his cousins was from a rich family and he had no dearth of money. They would frequently party along with other friends. Gradually Pradip started to realise that he is being addicted to drugs. He tried to get over his addiction but it was not easy. The more he tried to get rid of drugs, the more he was gripped by withdrawal symptoms.  After completing his 12th standard he went to Odisha for graduation. He made new friends and some of those friends were into drugs. Soon Pradip found himself in the tentacles of Drugs again. “It was not easy to buy a syringe to inject drugs. We were scared that someone would suspect us and so we reused the syringes. The same syringe and the needle would be shared by many over and over again. We were not aware of the dreadful consequences then.”  Pradip recalled the dreadful experience. After completing his graduation in Odisha Pradip Kumar went to Nainital to pursue MSc in mathematics. However he could not complete his studies because of his addiction.


Sometimes in the late nineties, Pradip Kumar read a newspaper article about the dangers of taking drugs and sharing the same syringe. He learnt about HIV AIDS for the first time. By then some of his friends had already died because of addiction. This article sent shivers down his spine and he decided to give up drugs at any cost. In 1997 he took the last shot of narcotics. He gave up drugs altogether but the deadly withdrawal syndromes came back and he found himself heavily dependent on alcohol. His alcohol addiction increased but the only solace for him was that alcohol was less harmful than drugs. He was hopeful that quitting drugs would save him from the harmful side effects of drugs as well the dangers of getting infected with HIV AIDS. What he did not know, however, was that it was already too late and he had already been infected with the virus and the disease was waiting for the right time to raise its ugly head.


The demon strikes

One day in the month of December in 1999 Pradip Kumar fell ill. It was an attack of viral fever. He also felt severe pain in the throat. The doctor prescribed him some antibiotics. As he reached the pharmacy to get those antibiotics he collapsed on the ground, unconscious. When he opened his eyes he found himself at home. Next day morning he went to the doctor with his mother. This time the doctor prescribed him another medicine but he decided not to take it. The pain all over his body and his throat increased and soon he was unable to eat or drink. His health deteriorated fast and within a couple of days he could neither rise from the bed nor move his limbs. Eventually he was admitted to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Manipur.


At the hospital Pradip Kumar was subjected to various tests but his condition worsened day by day. Blurred vision, frequent incidents of passing out, inability to talk and eat and other symptoms became alarmingly severe. After several tests he was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the lymph glands of the neck. After some treatment his condition became better and he went home. But he was again hospitalised after a few days. At the time of admitting he was unconscious and in a critical condition. He regained consciousness after three days. He did not understand what the doctors around him were saying but one word was being repeated several times and his intuition told him that word was important. Sero positive. He asked one of the doctors what was the meaning of that word. The doctor told it meant detection of the presence of a disease in blood samples and in this case it was HIV AIDS. At that time he was only 30.


This information hit him like a thunderbolt. The hope of being safe against the disease was now gone. He could not evade it. The virus finally got him. He broke down into tears. At that time his mother entered the room. Pradip somehow controlled himself and told her, “Let’s go home mother.”


Pradip Kumar’s mother and other family members took care of him at looked after him at home. One day his mother said, “Tell me what you want? I will do anything for you.”  Pradip said he wanted to go to Guwahati for better treatment. The same day his mother and sister took him to Guwahati and got him admitted at a government hospital. Unfortunately, this was a very unpleasant experience for him. He realised for the first time what it is to be discriminated against for AIDS. He was kept in confinement with mental patients. The patients around him had their hands and legs tied up to the bedposts. It was a very depressing environment. He was mentally devastated. But that was just the beginning. He faced a lot of ill treatment in the hospital. One particular incident hurt him deeply. A nurse, while removing a saline needle was so careless that blood squirted out of his veins and the bed sheet was covered in blood. The nurse did not even look back and left the room. The pain of this insensitiveness was much stronger than that in his veins.  The same day they went back to Manipur.


Death! Not today! I am not ready for you!

Pradip and his family lost all hope as they went back to Manipur. It was imminent death that he was waiting for now. But just at that time, they met a new doctor. Dr. Noren, an HIV specialist. He told Pradip that an AIDS patient can also live normally with the help of medicine. But the medicine was very expensive and was not easy to get. At that time one dose of the medicine cost 36 thousand rupees. Yet the family decided to somehow bear the cost. The medicine was to be preserved in a refrigerator and they had no fridge. So they kept it in the fridge of a neighbour. His treatment started with this new medicine and by the advice of Dr. Noren, the medicine for TB was discontinued. Taking the new medicine was not easy either. Every time he swallowed the medicine his weak body reacted and he had to vomit it out. The medicine was too costly to be wasted and therefore the vomit was collected in a pot and then the medicine was recovered from it to be swallowed again later. Gradually he started to regain the strength to move a little. Pradip says- “Most of the AIDS patients think death is knocking at the door. Instead of thinking like this they should think about living a normal life.”

From 2000 to 2004 Pradip Kumar was confined to his house for almost three and a half year. During this time not a single relative or friend came to see him. Even those who once taught him to take drugs did not come to see him. He spent all his time with his family members. However , he was very careful that no one touches the blades used by him for shaving or that no one comes in contact with his blood in case there is any cut or injury. He maintains such caution till today.


A lost game that caused many victories

Soon after Pradip Kumar regained a little bit of strength his sister gifted him a flower plant. He looked after this plant and a thought came to his mind that this plant is an inspiration for him to stay alive. Soon he started to collect and look after more such flower plants. The collection grew and soon it became a nursery. He even started participating in gardening fairs. Little by little he regained the hope and energy to stay alive and he thought of doing some light exercises to maintain fitness. In 2004 he went to a gym named Eagle gym in his neighbourhood.  At that time some friends were playing chess and the condition was the loser would have to lift some weights. Pradip joined the game and lost. That was the beginning of a new life. The defeat in the game of chess was the beginning of his international career in bodybuilding.


I am still alive!

With every passing day Pradip Kumar’s confidence grew and he increased the intensity of his workout. His doctor had advised him to do some light exercises and warned that his body was too weak to bear the intensity of heavy workouts. But Pradip kept on pushing his boundaries. In 2006 he participated in the Mr. Manipur contest for the first time and secured silver medal in the 60 KG category. He was elated. Just two years back he weighed less than 30 kg, was unable to move and today he was the silver medalist in 60 kg category in a bodybuilding competition. “My heart was racing. I had got a new lease of life. I was still alive. My life was not over yet and that made me rejoice.”  He says. The oganisers, however, knew nothing about Pradip’s disease.

One morning in 2007 a friend had brought a journalist to Pradip Kumar’s home. The journalist was from a national newspaper. He said he wanted to write about Pradip if he has no objection. How HIV has not been able to stop him on his journey can be a great source of inspiration for a lot of people all over the world. Pradip agreed but put forward a condition that he should publish the article only after the Mr. Manipur competition 2007 is over. The stigma that he had faced, the insensitiveness and the emotional violence he was subjected to because of his condition was still fresh in his mind.

Pradip Kumar won a gold medal in the competition and the article was published as soon as the competition was over. This article took entire Manipur by storm. The media in Manipur went berserk. No one knew anything about Pradip’s condition. Everyone came running to him. “Is it true?’ They asked. His answer was simple-


“Yes! I am HIV positive. But HIV does not kill a person. It is the society that kills with its insensitiveness. I am an example.” 



National and international recognition

In 2008 Pradip Kumar participated in the Mr. India competition for the first time and secured fifth position. In the same year he participated in Mr. India competition 2008-09 held at Aurangabad and secured fourth position. In 2010 he won silver medal in 50th Mr. India competition. That was the last time he participated in Mr. India. In 2012 he won bronze in Mr. World competition held at Bangkok. He also won Mr. South Asia title same year at Mr. South Asia competition at Ludhiana.

In 2008 an NGO had provided financial assistance to him to participate in Mr. India competition. Apart from that he has got no assistance from any organisation or from the government. Bodybuilding is an expensive sport and his mother and sister have been helping him even by selling their ornaments. However, he has not participated in any competition after 2012 because of side effects of the Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) to control HIV. Moreover, he is currently undergoing the second line of treatment under ART and during this time he has to be more cautious. So by doctor’s advice he has refrained from participating in competitions. Still he is continuing regular exercise. Presently he is a Physical Training Instuctor under the Manipur Sports Department.

Much has been written about Pradip Kumar and several documentaries and TV programmes have been made on him. Prominent among these are documentaries Mr. Manipur by Aribam Shyam Sharma, the father of Manipuri cinema and Mr. India by national award winning film maker Pawan Kumar.


Yet the stigma continues

Despite all the recognition Pradip Kumar is still subjected to discrimination and stigma. “Most of the people do not like to use the bar that I touch. They even hesitate to touch my water bottle. Most of the gyms do not want me to go there. Therefore I prefer Eagle Gym in my locality. It does not have all the facilities but that is where I started bodybuilding and I feel at home there.” He says.

Another aspect that often pains Pradip Kumar is that he sometimes feel that his achievements as an international bodybuilder is often eclipsed by the fact that he is an HIV positive.

Apart from discrimination and stigma Pradip Kumar has been subjected to apathy as well. In 2008 Manipur State AIDS Control Society appointed him brand ambassador for a remuneration of 6000 rupees. But they were never prompt in releasing that amount and according to him he had to request them every month for his remuneration.

Pradip Kumar is a source of inspiration not just for Manipur or the country but for the entire world. He is an example of indomitable human spirit. His philosophy of life is clear-

“Life is a journey and we have to keep going. Death is inevitable but we cannot stop. We are not immortal but we should do some good wok so that we can become an ideal for others.”


(With Imomacha Heisnam)


‘Equality In Indian Democracy’ through the eyes of a 12 year old

A lot is being said and written on the occasion of Independence Day. But what do the future of our nation, the children feel about our democracy. What do they feel about Equality in Indian Democracy? Are they excited about this? This write-up by Hiya Choudhury, a seventh standard student of DPS Guwahati tells a poignant story. It was written by her as part of civics summer vacation homework based on ‘Equality in Indian Democracy’.


An incident in my life in which my dignity was violated and how I felt about it

I am 12 years old and I love to play badminton. I have not only participated in Intra & Inter school badminton competitions but have also taken part in some state level tournaments. My parents have registered me with the Board of Sports of Assam under the Ministry of Sports and Youth* Welfare Govt of Assam to train and practice the game at Kanaklata Indoor stadium Guwahati.

But sadly, I and my fellow players are being deprived and not allowed to utilize all the five courts available at Kanaklata Indoor Stadium. Board of Sports Assam have gifted three of the five courts to be used by players who are not registered with Board of Sports Assam but can afford to pay more fees to an NGO (nongovernment organisation).

Denying “Right to Equal Opportunities”, “Right to Equality”, Right against Discrimination” and “Right to be protected from Social Injustice” as enshrined in the Constitution of India at a government / public social service facility, is where my dignity is being violated by the Government of Assam.

I feel I do not belong to this state. I feel like a second class citizen of this state. I feel frustrated.

I want justice under the provisions of the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and Child Rights under UN Convention.

I want to play in a fair and just environment.

I hope the Chairperson of the Board of Sports of Assam that is the Chief Minister of Assam Sri Tarun Gogoi is listening.


*Youth is defined as aged between 15  and 29 years in The National Youth Policy 2014 by Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MYAS) Govt of India and as  aged between 15 to 24 years by United Nations Organisation. Hence providing sports facilities to persons above that age at infrastructure facilities under Sports and Youth Welfare Department Govt of Assam such as Kanaklata Indoor Stadium is grossly inappropriate.








The reinterpretation of dreams!

    By Sayantan Ghosh


    Last December when I was called inside my manager’s chamber and told that I have exactly two weeks to empty my office desk, it had taken me by surprise. It wasn’t particularly shocking because our generation is well-seasoned with many such drastic horror stories of unemployment within the first few months of their careers. When we realized that the entire department was getting dissolved due to a ‘structural shift’, some of us got together, ate, drank and found comfort in each other’s resemblance of fate.

    Three months later. Most of us had found jobs elsewhere and had adjusted to the changes that followed. But during those days of crisis, the one phrase that we all periodically got to hear was ‘Chase your dreams!’ Whether it was from friends, family members, or people we had worked with who still had their jobs and posted selfies from the office lunchroom tagging some of us.

    Following one’s dreams…


    I won’t deny that there was some kind of mystical thrill in those three words. The first thing that came to my mind was that now I could tweet about the managing director’s desperate attempts to look like Indira Gandhi’s body double and get away with it. But as the weeks passed and the consolatory messages stopped coming, my ideas about having a dream and then chasing it began to change.

    I had always wanted to write and so I did. First I was happy writing plays for the annual school function, then penning rebellious communist articles during college and the occasional short stories to impress girls. People who know me a little are aware of this even if they don’t know which city I come from or the name of the girl I am seeing. So this unexpected torrent of suggestions about maybe this was a sign to give my dream a chance, caught me plumb in front of the wickets.

    Like most Indian children who are fortunate to receive a formal education, I too have grown up hearing success stories about ambitious people. Those who made it big despite starting from a room with a tin roof on it or sleeping on the park benches of Bombay city. According to a running joke in my family when my father was still in college, my grandfather used to give him examples of Alexander the Great, comparing them like they were first cousins and harping on my father’s failure in matching up to the emperor’s achievements at a similar age. In reply my father always compared him with Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator, and congratulated him for keeping up to his reputation.

    Among people I know, there are both the kinds who have regular jobs and families as well as those who despite topping their classes and landing up cushy placements have quit and are now pursuing music and even yoga. I am sure they all have their moments of contentment and rejections. Therefore this standardized notion of harboring and hunting a dream being a definite method of being happy is somewhere flawed.

    It is also a representation of our country’s position in the global economy which manipulates us to make phrases as these a part of our pop culture referendum. A few years ago when I met one of my neighborhood boys who had moved to the United States after his plus two, he narrated me stories about how he went to college in the morning, worked at a canteen in the afternoon and at night dreamt of building a computer which can cook food for us after automatically assessing our bowel movements for the day. I thought he was crazy but the fact that he didn’t make a mountain of it proved that he really thought it was possible.

    Our academic structure has historically been such that we have seldom been able to determine or choose what we want to learn. As a relatively tolerant nation we have allowed administrative and political organizations to define the education that is important for us. While a certain structure is essential, it also has often removed the young people of our country from organic learning. As a remainder of this unsolved mathematical problem is the social conviction that dreams are meant to be chased while careers keep you floating.

    Doesn’t chasing something also mean triggering it away from us? As a child we are always taught to not run in front of dogs to avoid being chased by them. Why do our dreams need to be cautioned of our existence then? Instead of chasing them, why can’t they become long term companions one can have alongside.

    When being told that I do not want to join our family-owned business, my father had quizzed me about my life choices ahead. As frankly as I could, I had told him that I was mostly unaware. I remember him staying temperately calm till I informed him that I wanted to write. He couldn’t understand for a minute why a hobby was so important to me that I didn’t want to take his company forward.

    He hails from a past where only after overwhelming struggles he has managed to earn a fairly affluent lifestyle for us. Pursuing literature, despite not having a degree in it, is an alien concept for him and many others of his cohort. In a recent online interview of a famed international author who is booting a writer’s programme for aspiring authors, he said that the candidates will be paid while learning and working for the programme; to send a message to writers around the world that writing cannot come for free.

    While it makes for great news, it’s also alarming how not just writing, but almost every other non-corporatized medium of art has been deemed as a “passion” and not a paid profession in several countries like ours.

    There are thousands of articles online which tell us how reading is going out of fashion and how books don’t sell anymore. Consider this. If all the writers in the world decide to go on a strike for a day, what results will Google throw up when someone types in that date? It’ll be nothing more than an empty slate. Without comic book artists where will the summer superhero blockbusters go?

    Exclusivity of ambition is something we all want to attain. But the idea of a dream can be as simple as visiting the village in Bangladesh where your grandparents were born. When we are young dreams enthrall us even during our waking hours. I remember I could see the seven-legged monster even inside the school library. As we grow older we lose relevance of dreams in our lives. We still wake up sweating, get chased by masked murderers and often hang out with Benedict Cumberbatch. But our phony sense of maturity forces all such thoughts out of our system so we can feel like grown-ups. In trying to keep with time, we forget to keep with the wonders of the mind.

    It was summer I think, many years ago. Raining possibly. My mother and I were sitting at the window when she asked me what I wanted to become when I grew up. Like every mother asks. I looked up at the sky and told her I wanted to become an astronaut.

    Half the boys in our class wanted to become an astronaut I remember. It was the coolest word we knew—astronaut! The boy who sat next to me in class even told his father so. In turn, his father blamed his mother for allowing him to watch too much television. I had expected a similar reaction from my mother too. That’s what parents are supposed to do, I thought. Tell us what’s possible for us and what’s impossible.

    But the next morning she gifted me a small action figure of a space traveler. It was a neatly designed figurine, and was strangely yellow in color. “This is you,” she had said. I was so thrilled with my new present that I immediately ran out of the house to show it to my friends who lived in the colony. Later when I returned, she was folding my clothes and keeping them inside the cupboard.

    When I asked her again if she really thought it was me, she nodded. Then she said, “But this is all I can do for you. The rest of the journey is yours. I will keep reminding you that it is you. Whether you become an astronaut who travels to the moon, to faraway planets, to other galaxies or remain in this house and yet imagine more wonderful worlds than even those galaxies, is for you to decide.”

    I definitely didn’t become an astronaut. In fact my palms still start sweating every time I fly even on a passenger airplane. But it is because of that one summer afternoon at my ancestral home in Calcutta, that I never feared trying new things in my life again. Or at least speaking my mind. Nothing seemed easier of course, but nothing seemed improbable either. Sometimes, it seems, the unfulfilment of one dream keeps the others alive.

    The current scenario of Archery in Tezpur

    “Nothing clears a troubled mind better than shooting a bow”

    -Fred bear

    The history of archery can be traced back to the ancient civilization, when bows and arrows were used as a weapon to hunt wild animals and used for warfare. The heroic efforts of the archers at the battlefield helped them gain triumph over several kingdoms. Studies suggest that pines served as the arrows in the ancient times, because they consisted of a long fore shaft and a flint point. According to the history of archery, bows were first developed in either early years of the Mesolithic age or the late Paleolithic age. The oldest bow used by archers was native to Denmark. Archeologists have discovered arrow shafts in many countries where archery was prevalent, which includes Egypt, Sweden and Denmark. Archery was also developed in Asia and other Islamic kingdoms.

    Archery 2

    India’s tryst with modern day archery started in 1975, three years after the game was chosen as part of the Olympic discipline in the 1972 Munich Games. In 1973, the Archery Association of India (AAI) was established, which proved to be a milestone in the history of archery. The organization helped uplift the standard of archery from just being a primitive game to a sport with national and international recognition. The Archery Association of India has played a leading role in promoting archery in Asia, apart from its homeland.

    This very indigenous game of our country, first established its roots in Tezpur with the inception of the Sonitpur Archery Club in 1994 and in its twenty years of illustrious service it has given us fifteen national players to boast of with six of them even clinching various medals. In an interview with the current secretary of the club Mr. Surojit Deka we were briefed on various aspects of the game and how they have managed to produce some amazing players with the least facilities for practice.

    Archery 4

    The training sessions are carried out every Sunday evening from 3:30 to 5:30 at the Hazarapar Stadium. Mr. Deka says that the bows that they provide to the students for practicing cost from three lakh to fifteen lakh rupees and the organization doesn’t charge any fee from them. Moreover, when the students are sent to participate in the state and national level competitions, all their expenses are born by the club itself. However, what grieves Mr. Deka is the fact that not many youngsters show interest in this game: there are at present only forty students training under them. Secondly, another disheartening aspect to the scenario of archery in Tezpur is that most of the students who come to seek training belong to deprived families and as such they can’t afford to buy even the minimum requisite equipment for the game. Such barriers, however, are never allowed to deter the players’ ambitions and it is the result of such undaunted efforts by the association that players like Priyanka Sarmah,(daughter of a carpenter), Bacchenam Sarmah (son of a juice seller), Sikandar Rai (son of a sugarcane juice seller) and Plassey Das (daughter of a meat seller) have gone on to win medals even at the national level.

    Archery 1

    Another venture that has been contributing towards uplifting the scenario of archery in Tezpur is the Archery Club of Tezpur University. It was formed on 11th June, 2014 as an autonomous organization within the university campus by Mr. Raju R. Singh, a national level archery player and also the former coach of the Indian archery team, with the intention of promoting the game among the students of the pioneer educational institution. There are at present fifteen students seeking training under Mr. Singh and four of them were sent to participate in the inter-institutional archery competition held at Kurukshetra University on the 3rd and 4th of November, 2014. In the course of a tête-à-tête with one of the novices of the club Sujit Muktan, he told me how within a span of seven months Mr. Singh has succeeded in incorporating the club as a part of the university’s ‘Games and Sports Section’. Sujit is all praise for his coach’s dedication towards his students; he says that it’s solely because of Mr. Singh’s efforts that the game of archery has found rejoinder among the students of the university.  However, this noble undertaking is yet to secure financial aids from the university, let alone from the government. Analogous to the plight of the Sonitpur Archery Club, the students seeking training under this club has to buy the necessary equipment on their own and this, according to Sujit, is one of the main reasons behind the low number of players in the institution. Nevertheless, Mr. Singh’s indomitable enthusiasm is sure to provide a much needed impetus to the game of archery in Tezpur in the coming days.

    Archery 3

    Mr. Surojit Deka is of the opinion that Tezpur harbors a number of “talented” archery players but it is the lack of favorable practicing amenities and resources that has prevented them from making a mark in the international archery scenario. He seems to entertain prejudices against the Ministry of Sports for being completely indifferent to this magnificent game and appeals to the authorities concerned to help promote the game among the masses. Mr. Deka’s grievances appear completely justified considering the availability of poor facilities: there isn’t even any provision for artificial lighting to continue the practice after sunset. Furthermore, there are hardly three to four bows available with the club which makes it difficult for all the students to practice together and as a result of which they are not allotted equal practicing time. The scenario is evidently somewhat better in Tezpur University for the availability of convenient set-up and equipment helps the players to practice the game with more adequacy and perfection. However, on balance it seems the game of archery in Tezpur definitely needs more assistance and cognizance lest we don’t want the game to cease being played at all.


    English Premier League – The youth’s favourite


    English Premier League 2014-15

    The English Premier League season is here again, with a number of teams champing at the bit to claim (or reclaim) domestic league glory.

    Manchester City is the defending champion after pipping a rampant Liverpool late in 2013-14, but it might not be a piece of cake to clinch the title for a second straight year with Chelsea, Arsenal and local rival Manchester United all strengthening.

    Chelsea emerges as this season’s favorite with manager Jose Mourinho bringing in Spain’s super striker Diego Costa and former Arsenal midfield magician Cesc Fabregas into an already-strong squad.

    Manchester United’s appointment of Louis van Gaal makes things even more interesting this year, after the calamity that was David Moyes’s only season in charge of the Red Devils ended in an ignominious seventh-place finish.

    The EPL brings to us some wonderful games of football which is something to die for. The craziness of the game, the injury time equalizers, last minute winners, the thundering screamers, all the long yard goals, the entertaining celebrations, those ultimate skills displayed by the players, and everything else about it makes our love in our hearts grow more and more day by day with each passing season for the English premier league.

    No doubt this league is the best and most watched football ball league in the world.


    English premier league 2014-15 so far as on 1st January 2015.

    • 525 Goals Scored.
    • 200 Matches Played.
    • 2.6 average goals scored per match.
    • 74 goals scored from outside the box.
    • 367 assists.
    • 42 penalties awarded.
    • 33 scored.
    • 7.1 million fans attended.
    • 112 clean sheets.
    • 136 woodwork hits
    • 3734 shots taken.
    • 1640 shots on target.
    • 749 yellow cards awarded.
    • 40 red cards awarded.

    Top Goal Scorers


    Top four on the League table


    We are just half way through the EPL season 2014-15 and the excitement continues to run in our veins as we move on for the other half of the season.

    Keeping calm is what we can never do when it comes ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE .

    The energy of the game is so high which you will never want to lose.

    Watch EPL and grow your love for football.

    9 Indian wedding customs you had no idea about


    Indian weddings are known around the world for the grandeur and aplomb they display. But being the culturally diverse land that India is comes with the implication that there is a wide array of customs and traditions that remain unexplored in the mainstream representation of the big fat Indian wedding. Following are some not-so-famous rituals of different types of Indian weddings. [by Ashvin Gidwani Productions]


    1) In an Iyer wedding, the groom customarily has a change of heart and he decides to spend the rest of his life in celibacy. The father in law must then persuade the would-be son-in-law to give up the thought and marry the bride. Props like a jewel-studded umbrella, the Bhagwad Gita, a hand fan and sandals are used in this dramatic persuasion. The father in law also washes the groom’s feet and promises him that the bride will help the groom in his spiritual growth.


    2) Indian Christian weddings are preceded by a custom called Roce, which is held at the houses of the bride and the groom separately. Family elders and friends anoint the bride and the groom with dabs of coconut oil before rubbing their arms and feet with coconut milk. In recent years, however, the coconut milk is being replaced by rotten eggs, tomatoes and chilled beer as a prank. The bride and groom are not allowed to meet each other in the period between this ceremony and the wedding.


    3) In East Indian Catholic weddings, fig leaves are submerged in two pots of well water overnight and the bride and groom are bathed at their respective houses by their respective family elders in that water on the morning of their wedding day. This ritual is called ‘Umracha Pani’.


    4) Bengali weddings happen in two installments. On the first day, after the marriage rituals are over, the couple is expected to spend the night at the bride’s house. The ‘bidayi’ (farewell from the bride’s family to the bride) only happens on the afternoon after the day of the marriage.


    5) In Manipuri weddings, one woman from the bride’s side and another from the groom’s side release one taki fish each into a pond. If both the fishes move side by side in the water then it is considered to be a good omen for the couple.

    gujarati wedding

    6) In Gujarati weddings, when the groom enters the venue of the wedding, he is supposed to seek the blessings of the bride’s mother by touching her feet and she is supposed to try and catch his nose as a reminder that she is giving him her precious daughter and he must be gentle and good to her. The groom’s brothers and friends are expected to protect his nose from the mother-in-law’s clutches.


    7) Before a Marathi wedding takes place, the bride’s family invites the groom and his parents to have a meal with the bride and her family. The bride’s father is expected to wash the groom’s feet with water in a plate made of silver. This custom is called ‘Srimant Puja’.


    8) In Malayalee weddings, the ‘muhurat’ (auspicious time) for the marriage is not the time the marriage actually happens, but the time when the groom’s family leaves for the venue of the wedding. In Malayalee weddings, unlike most others, the bride and groom take only 3 pheras instead of 7.


    9) After Bihari weddings, the bride is made to balance multiple earthen pots on her head while she bows down to touch her in-laws’ feet upon entering the groom’s house for the first time after the wedding. The number of pots she can balance is believed to be an indicator of her ability to sustain balance in the household.


    The list has been provided by


    FOR MORE ON unique rituals in North-east – click here

    10 unbelievable facts about the History of India


    India is a diverse country which possesses a varied cultural heritage. A lot of this can be attributed to its glorious history and generations of citizens who have passed on this legacy. However, as citizens of modern India, are we really aware of our pastglory and the ‘cradle of civilization’ we are renowned as?

    Following are ten facts about history of India that will blow your mind.


    Language:It’s a well known fact that Sanskrit is considered to be the mother of all higher languages. But the fact that out of all the languages in the world, Sanskrit is the only and most suitable language for computer software is not something many might be aware of. It’s the most precise language containing a perfect syntax appropriate for a computer programming language.  Apart from the report published by the Forbes magazine, in July 1987 it’s a claim that even NASA supports.


    Medicine:Ayurveda and Siddha, the earliest schools of medicine known to mankind, originated in India. Charaka, who is known as the Father of Medicine, was an Indian who consolidated Ayurveda around 2,500 years ago. It still remains one of the country’s traditional health care systems.


    University/Education:The world’s first university was established in Takshila in 700 BC. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects at this university. The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of education.


    Mathematics:Most of us are aware that the concept of zero was invented by the Indian mathematician Aryabhatta. What isn’t known, however, is that Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus also originated in India. Quadratic Equations were used by Sridharacharya in the 11th century. The largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 106 whereas Indians used numbers as big as 10*53 (i.e. 10 to the power of 53) with specific names as early as 5000 B.C.during the Vedic period.Even today, the largest used number is Terra: 10*12(10 to the power of 12).


    Surgery: The ancient Indian physician Sushruta was the world’s first person to perform cataract and plastic surgery. These surgeries dated back to 2000B.C., and his works were later translated to Arabic and gradually passed on to European countries. People from far off countries came to India to seek treatment from Sushruta.


    Astrology: The correct time taken by the earth to revolve around the sun was calculated by the famous Indian astronomer Bhaskaracharya. His calculation showed that the earth takes around 365.258756484 days to go around the sun once.


    Navigation: As many as 6000 years back, the art of navigation was developed in the River Indus, which was known as Sindh then. In fact, the word ‘navigation’ is a derivation of the Sanskrit word, ‘Navgatih’.


    Geometry: The importance of the value of Pi and the famous theorem proposed by Pythagoras is highly popular among most geometry students and professors all over the world. However Budhayana, had already discovered this in India at around the 6th century long before the European mathematicians.


    Dams: The concept of constructing dams to stop the flow of a river and creating a reservoir for various purposes like agriculture and production of hydroelectric power is the most commonly adapted innovation of today’s modern world. However the earliest reservoir and dam for irrigation was built first in India at Saurashtra during the reign of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya around 150 BC . According to Saka King, Rudradaman I, the beautiful lake was aptly called ‘Sudarshana’ and constructed on the hills of Raivataka.


    Games: The famous game of Snakes and Ladders is highly popular among children of today’s time. It was originally called as Mokshapat and was created by the Indian poet saint named Gyandev in the 13th century. The game had a significant meaning since the snakes stood for vices, while the ladders represented good virtues. The essence of the game was that the ladders or good virtues take people to heaven while snakes or vices take people to a cycle of re-births.

    10 reasons that made Orkut special

    It has been a month now that Orkut died. Many of you would probably not really care about. But few rare ones, like me, are yet to recover. I, for one, still involuntarily land on Orkut.com and then feel like a fool realizing that it has been shut.

    True, Orkut died because of its own problem. To think that it would survive without innovating was suicidal. But that does not take away from the fact that Orkut did have its own elements; ones that made Orkut an intrinsic part of our lives for years.


    Listing out 10 things that made Orkut so special…




    1) It told us what it felt to have ‘fans’.

    No, you could not have forgotten about this one. Orkut not only connected you with long lost friends, it suddenly made you feel like a star. You always wanted more people to be your fans!



    2) It told us to select wisely.

    Orkut put a cap on the number of friends you could add and the number of photos you could upload. It was like the days of film photography, when you needed to be really careful while clicking pictures. Now with Facebook you can upload any number of photographs…



    3) Being competitive about number of scraps.

    You cannot deny wanting to be ahead in number of scraps received. The competition to be the first one to get 1000 scraps, 5000 scraps and so on.




    4) Check the last five visitors

    You could always check who were the last five visitors to have checked your profile. And for boys, a visit by a beautiful girl would make his day!

    Of course Orkut later disabled the function. But that only meant that you could checkout the profile of the girl or boy who had a crush on without him getting to know. Yes, we have all been through that! It would not be too much to say that some people hunted matches for matrimonial purposes… I know a friend of mine did. Well, a very close friend of mine is actually married to a girl had first checked out on Orkut!




    5) Meet strangers in random groups.

    Like we mentioned Orkut got us connected to long lost school friends. But it also introduced us to some total strangers who went on to become trusted friends. Trust me, Fried Eye came into existence because of such friendships!



    6) Testimonials

    Long before LinkedIn kicked in and we started asking for recommendations from professional acquaintances, Orkut had the most amazing feature called testimonials. You could take pride in the testimonials your friends wrote about you. They were precious. Our lives and reputation depended on them! Sounds quite stupid now, but they meant the world then. I was in fact made to sign up on Orkut so that I could write a testimonial for my best friend. Okay, he wrote one for me too!



    7) Getting the share of gossip from scraps

    It did have the message feature but for certain unknown reasons people often ended scrapping each other. Scraps that were then out in the open for the world to see. You could always get to know who a person is talking to by just scrolling down his scrapbook.



    8) Today’s fortune

    On dull days when you would have little entertainment, Orkut’s Today’s fortune would often make you laugh. I would not be surprised if many among us actually tried finding logic in those completely random predictions.



    9) Visiting the neighborhood cyber cafe just to check Orkut.

    Internet was not quite available in every household when Orkut started out. It is another matter that by the time Orkut died, you have internet on our phones… but back then we actually visited those neighborhood cyber cafes to check Orkut. Waste of money, you think? Well, back then it was all justified!


    10) Simple life, simple site

    Back in those days when Orkut was at it peak, social media was just about scrapping and staying in touch. It was yet to be complicated by the desire to have more likes and shares. More importantly it was yet to be the hunting ground of companies. Today we see the current rulers trying to sell products to you every second you are on the site. Orkut that way was just a friend who benefited from our presence but did not make a product out of us itself.



    Orkut was the buddy when FB was too complicated… don’t we agree? Yes, true it is over and will not be a part of our future lives. But Orkut will certainly remain an amazing part of our lives.

    Varinder Singh Ghuman: Making it large!



      It was an unlikely conversation of sorts. It was only a part of another assignment that I spoke to him. I had little interest in him and neither in his sport. I usually deal with film stars you see. Yet Varinder Singh Ghuman left me amazed. For one, he is the perfect odd man out. This 130 kilo weighing muscleman from the border district of Gurdaspur, Punjab, is the biggest vegetarian in the world!

      Did I get your attention yet?

      Yes, 130 kgs Varinder Singh Ghuman is apparently the only vegetarian bodybuilder in the world. And he can rightly be proud about the same. “We are a vegetarian family and I have never tried meat in my life. I know it can be surprising to most. I supposed I am blessed with genes that could help me. Most of it of course is real hard work!” says Varinder. He says he gets his share of proteins from milk and milk products. This one aspect of his life has surprised the biggest of the greats in bodybuilding.  Even Arnold Schwarzenegger!  “I met him when I became the first Indian to participate in the Arnold Classic. He was surprised to know that I am from India and more so that I am a vegetarian! He told me he has never seen such a big Asian” he informs. Subsequently Schwarzenegger signed him up as Asia ambassador for the chain of Gymnasiums and health food that he plans to introduce in the regions soon.


      Why I stumbled upon Varinder is because he stepped into my territory. With muscles like that many producers are eyeing this man to act in their films. He even in fact did a couple of Punjabi films already, one of them being on Kabaddi. The film called Kabaddi Once Again worked and soon he did more. And soon he will have his first Hindi film Roar – The Tigers of Sundarbans releasing. “I have also been signed by Salman Khan’s production house to act in The Great Gama, in which I play Sohail Khan’s brother. I suppose I look fair enough and come across as a decent looking guy on camera. Combined with my body, producers seem to think I fit roles in their films. I am obviously happy!” quips Varinder, who has even trained in dancing. He definitely looks powerful enough in the trailer of Roar, where he is shown slamming a royal Bengal tiger!

      What I liked about him however is that while Varinder like acting, he is not giving his sport up for Bollywood. He is a bodybuilder first and will take it forward. “I am right now preparing to participate in Mr Olympia. I will be taking part in the qualifiers this October and hope to become the first Indian to make it there,” he reveals. “As of now cricket rules in India. Sportsperson like us do not get much recognition. I am working to change that in the field of bodybuilding. I hope to popularize Bodybuilding as a sport,” points out a man who had was once keen on playing cricket and even did well as a fast bowler for his college team!

      There is one more ‘first’ to his list. He is Asia’s first to be ranked as a ProSuper in bodybuilding shows worldwide. This came after he won the Mr India title in 2009. “I am India’s first and so far the only professional bodybuilder,” says this Punjabi  man-of-muscles who once wanted to follow his father into the police force. Among other firsts, he is also the first Indian to win Australian Granx Prix 2011.

      Hard Boiled


        I got this book last Christmas. I have always heard of Frank Miller but haven’t actually checked his books and comics. He made Daredevil a memorable character. I did not know about Geof Darrow. At first, I read it in some half an hour timespan, but I could not understand it that well. I kept the book aside for some time. The next Sunday, I picked it up again. I read a line and then stared at the picture for some time. It took me the whole week to complete the book. I really liked it. Quite a lot of brutal sex, ultra-violence and spilled blood illustrated to the meticulous details. There is clutter everywhere, and it is as lovingly detailed as are the bizarre residents of the dark future. Car seats and footwells are littered with junk food wrappers, spare parts, toys, and utensils. Cars parked on the street are dented. Trash heaps are strewn with recognizable artifacts, not only from the modern day but things that should be available any day now.

        The ultra-violence and the paranoia expanded the scope of comic books. I see a lot of this book inspires the creators of Level 10 comics, but that is just a personal opinion. The comic at that time attracted many debate about the kind of content, but nevertheless it was liked by comic book lovers for the graphics and it ushered a new era of comic book illustrations.

        The story cannot be said to be great. Nevertheless it is interesting. I believe that was deliberate as content was just to support the graphics and the illustrations itself would say a story and the story was like putting words and limiting the imagination of the comic book reader.

        As one of the reviewer said before I bought this book, don’t buy one copy but buy 2 copies – one for you and one for your friend so that you can discuss the book.  The fact that even after 12 years someone is writing about the book so passionately says everything about the book.

        Plot (Warning: It can be a spoiler also, but I doubt.)

        In a dystopian, near-future Los Angeles, city tax collector Nixon is badly injured during a violent encounter with one of his targets, and must undergo extensive surgery in order to survive. Nixon wakes up in a bedroom sometime later, believing his previous experience was a bad dream, and that he is really Carl Seltz, an insurance investigator for the Benevolent Assurance Corporation, with a wife, two children, a dog, and an overall routine life. However, when his persistent dreams disturb his sleep, his wife distracts him with sex while his children inject him with a sleep-inducing drug, indicating not all is as it seems with Carl’s “normal” life.

        The next day, Carl heads out to pursue a delinquent account, talking to himself the whole way. All the while, his ramblings reveal increasingly large inconsistencies in his own memory, to the point where he even starts referring to himself by different names. He is distracted when his target’s vehicle appears on his car’s scanner, and he sets out in pursuit. After a high-speed chase through the city, both cars end up destroyed, and Carl continues pursuing his targets, an old woman and a young girl, on foot. As the two parties battle each other, the old woman is injured and revealed to be a robot, which Carl seemingly destroys with a large grenade just as the police converge on the area. The resulting explosion blows Carl into a supermarket, where he finds that the flesh of his hands and face have been torn away, revealing robotic parts like those of the old woman underneath.

        Dazed and confused, Carl begins making his way back home. As he navigates the wreckage of the battle outside the supermarket, he encounters the old woman again, who tears off the remains of her false skin to reveal her robotic chassis. She calls herself Unit Two, and informs Carl that his family are all actually paid handlers, that he is really a robot called Unit Four, codenamed “Nixon”, and both his jobs as an insurance investigator and a tax collector are covers for his real function, as a corporate assassin for Willeford Home Appliances, the corporation that created all the world’s robots. Unit Two explains that she and the little girl, also a robot, have broken the programming that forces them to serve humans, and are part of a revolutionary group led by Barbara, a robot that works inside Willeford’s headquarters, that intends to free all robots from their programmed slavery. She claims Carl is the revolution’s only hope, being the only robot powerful enough to stand up to Willeford’s paramilitary security forces. Carl, however, refuses to believe her, and knocks her head off in a fit of rage. The little girl robot appears and berates Carl for his behavior, until Carl’s dog arrives and reveals itself to be a robot as well when it destroys her.

        At the Willeford building, it is revealed that both Barbara and Mr. Willeford, the morbidly obese founder of the company, have been tracking Carl’s movements through the city. Meanwhile, Carl steals a new set of clothes and makes his way onto the subway, where he is attacked by a group of frightened citizens and is forced to kill them. Carl’s dog follows him onto the train as Carl finds a Willeford logo underneath the torn skin on his arm, and realizes that Unit Two’s story was true. Carl’s dog offers to lead him to the Willeford building to get some answers from his creators.

        Later that night, Barbara hears loud noises from elsewhere inside the Willeford building and goes to investigate, finding a trail of destruction and dead bodies leading deeper into the building. Realizing Carl has arrived, she rushes off to find him. When she finally reaches him, she sees that Carl has slaughtered most of the security forces, but has been all but destroyed in the process. When Barbara finds him, he is in the clutches of Willeford’s mechanical aides and is slowly being pulled apart by his owner. Defeated, Carl makes a deal with Mr. Willeford to be put back together, have his memory reset, and be returned to his family. Her plans for revolution in shambles, Barbara commit suicide by hooking herself up to a large generator and overloading her circuits. Sometime later, Carl, with a new skin, new car and new memories, returns to his family, completely unaware of his true nature once more.

        Find this book in Flipkart: Hard Boiled

        What Muslims do during Ramadan?

        Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. It is during this month that Muslims observe the Fast of Ramadan. Lasting for the entire month, Muslims fast during the daylight hours and in the evening eat small meals and pray. It is a time of worship and contemplation. A time to strengthen family and community ties.The Month of Ramadan is also when it is believed the Holy Quran “was sent down from heaven, a guidance unto men, a declaration of direction, and a means of Salvation”.it’s a month of restraint for the whole body. They do not listen to those who swear or look at obscene or unlawful things. Overall, they work to avoid smoking, sex, food, evil thoughts and acts, and more. At the end of Ramadan, Muslims usually give to charity, a practice called Zakah al-Fitr. This is in connection to the usual practice of giving to charity, known as Zakat, The daily schedule for a Muslim participating in Ramadan can be hard on the body. They will wake early (before sunrise) to eat. As soon as the sun comes up, they must refrain from both food and drink (including water) until the sun sets, and if Ramadan happens to fall during the summer, this makes for a long day Once the sun goes down Ramadan observers break the fast in a group sitting. The fast is broken by a large feast prepared throughout the day. At times going from famine to feast can be difficult since the body goes from one extreme to another.During Ramadan, it is common for Muslims to go to the Masjid (Mosque) and spend several hours praying and studying the Quran. In addition to the five daily prayers, during Ramadan Muslims recite a special prayer called the Taraweeh prayer (Night Prayer). The length of this prayer is usually 2-3 times as long as the daily prayers. Some Muslims spend the entire night in prayer.
        On the evening of the 27th day of the month, Muslims celebrate the Laylat-al-Qadr (the Night of Power). It is believed that on this night Muhammad first received the revelation of the Holy Quran. And according to the Quran, this is when God determines the course of the world for the following year.When the fast ends (the first day of the month of Shawwal) it is celebrated for three days in a holiday called Eid-al-Fitar (the Feast of Fast Breaking). Gifts are exchanged. Friends and family gather to pray in congregation and for large meals. In some cities fairs are held to celebrate the end of the Fast of Ramadan.

        Footwork to Face-pack!

          More and more sportsperson in India making their way to the silver screen

          Movies and sports have always had a pretty close connection in India. At first it was more about players dating pretty girls from the movies, but with time they have increasingly started flirting with the camera itself. What got our attention  is the fact that the number of players doing so has dramatically increased in the last few years. Here’s a list of sportspersons who have made their crossovers in last couple of years-




          Battling controversies of match fixing, Sreesanth is currently being seen on Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. However he has admitted that this is just the start. He will soon be seen in Tamil film Anbulla Azagae. Not only is he acting, but composed the music as well!


          Vijender Singh

          Vijender Singh


          The 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medalist made it clear long back that he think he is pretty good looking. Subsequently he started meeting producers. There were multiple films that he had apparently Okayed. Most fell through before Fugly happened. The film released last week but unfortunately has been panned all over. His acting has received much flak too.



          Akhil Kumar

          Akhil Kumar

          Vijender’s compatriot and Commonwealth Wealth Games Gold Medalist Akhil Kumar too had also ventured into the space in front of the camera. He featured in an Asha Bhosle video in 2009 but realized fast this was not his game.



          Leander Paes

          leander paes rajdhani express


          India’s first individual Olympic medalist and tennis icon Leander Paes had made a debut as an actor in Rajdhani Express. Needless to say, his fans liked him better on the tennis court where he has rescued India innumerable times in Davis Cup fixtures.


          Navdip Singh

          Navdip Singh

          Fellow tennis player and ex national champion Navdip Singh had made a debut earlier this year with a limited release Khwaabb. Though the film did not do well, this is one player who got some good reviews for his work on screen. Probably this has got to do with the fact that Navdip has been a theater actor since years and even trained under well known theater personality Barry John  – a man who has trained likes of Shah Rukh Khan and Ranbir Kapoor in the past.


          Jwala Gutta

          jwala gutta

          There is more from the court. This time from the badminton court rather. Ex national champion Jwala Gutta had done what no sportsperson had done earlier – an item number. The Hyderabad based player was seen dancing in the Telugu film Gunde Jaari Gallanthayyinde last year. And now, if sources are to be believed, Jwala is looking for more.


          These were the most recent. However the list is pretty long if we look at the complete history. Not surprising though that most crossover attempts were by cricketers, considering the sport enjoys maximum popularity in the country. Interestingly none of them have really managed to sustain as actors.


          Probably the earliest crossovers was done by the flamboyant cricket Sandeep Patil in 1985 when he starred in the film Kabhi Ajnabi The, which also featured Poonam Dhillon. He did not make it beyond that but probably his proximity with the industry stayed as his son debuted as an actor in the Marathi film Raada Rox. Sunil Gavaskar followed up with a debut in Marathi film Savli Premachi and departed as swiftly.


          One of the best remembered acting debuts by a sportsperson is Ajay Jadeja. The actor debuted opposite Celina Jaitley in Khel after being banned from cricket in relation to match fixing scandals. His career as an actor is best stated by the fact that Khel was a disaster and his next film Pal Pal Dil Ke Ssaat was left in the cans unreleased for close to seven years. The same film also starred another cricket Vinod Kambli – another failure. Kambli turned actor with Annarth (2001) and that was the end. Another cricketer Sadagopan Ramesh acted in couple of Tamil films.

          salil ankola

          However the most successful acting career has to be awarded to ex-cricketer Salil Ankola. At least his was, by far, the longest acting career among all other players.Salil acted in the TV show Kora Kagaaz and also in films such as Kurukshetra, Pitaah and Chura Liya Hai Tumne.


          With new leagues being promoted in sports like hockey, boxing and football, more sport-stars should attain popularity – which might result in more crossovers in future. We shall wait and watch to see more sportsperson into acting!

          The Queen and the pin

          It is about yesterday. I stepped into a crowded city bus. An important meeting with the boss kept me detained in office for an extra two hours. It was 7:30 pm then. I decided not to keep waiting for longer and jumped up into the first bus I saw, only to find that not a single seat was available. I hate standing in the city bus, but I had no choice. I didn’t want to be more late than I already was. I knew that I would have to face a bit of uncomfort in the crowd. But that is a better option than waiting for another, and getting late.

          Two stops later, an elderly lady got up from her seat to get down and I immediately sat down taking her seat. A girl was standing next to where I was sitting, and I saw a creepy looking man standing behind her. I got busy checking my cell phone, when I suddenly heard a loud gasp. Instinctively, thinking that the girl next to me was in trouble, I turned towards her, only to find her looking irritated, holding an open safety pin in her hand and a look of terrible pain on the creepy man’s face. Turns out, the man was trying to…well, to cut the crap… trying to ‘misbehave’ with her, and ended up getting pricked sharply on goodness knows which part of his body.

          I did not know what to say or do. I just kept staring at the girl, in awe. The man, on the other hand, ran off and got down the bus, without wasting a single moment.

          rani of jhansi

          Just a couple of days back, I had been reading about Jhansi ki Rani Lakshmi Bai. Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, in her poem had written about the Rani-

          How valiantly like a man fought she,

          The Rani of Jhansi

           On every parapet a gun she set

          Raining fire of hell,

          How well like a man fought the Rani of Jhansi

          How valiantly and well

          Rani Lakshmi Bai, the symbol of bravery and relentless courage for every woman in the country, was often compared to a man.  “Khoob ladi mardani wo to jhansi wali rani thi” (Bravely and relentlessly she fought like men).

          Yesterday, on seeing this woman stand up for herself, against a man made me proud enough to tell her that, “You fought like a woman should. Bravo!”

          How many women today, I wonder put their foot forward and speak up, or fight back when something wrong happens, when someone disrespects their womanhood? Counting myself as not a victim but a silent spectator nevertheless, for the first time I realized that we women have since forever, internalized the ‘feminine’ behavioral pattern, which supposedly is that of submission. And when, 156 years ago, a queen had rebelled against her wrongdoers and fought for her land, she was compared to a man. Why? Because, she was a woman, and women are not supposed to be brave, not supposed to fight back, but stereotyped to be meek and compliant.

          But, she did fight, and set for us an example. But how many of us women today look up to her and dare to make a move, muster up the courage to not stand silent but take some action, just like this girl did today?

          But of course, it is not easy. With the kind of mindset that’s growing amongst the society, whenever a woman dares to rebel, she has to pay, in more ways than one. Just like the Rani did. She had to pay the price of her life, while fighting the British- her oppressors.

          But she was the Queen. She preferred death over defeat. She was the real hero. And today, in a time when the best solution that the society or the government or we ourselves could find for the safety of women is to limit/restrict the mobility of the women; when women feel (and are) unsafe even inside police stations; when moving about in the city for women after a certain hour is considered ‘not of good upbringing’, I wonder, how many Rani Lakshmi Bai’s are out there, clutching to the small safety pins in their dress to use it as a weapon, struggling to fight- not like men, but very much like women, and not choosing to ignore and let go…



          Photo courtesy-  http://jhansi.nic.in/

          Technology changes, emotions don’t

          By Victor Mukherjee

          Growing up in a god-forsaken small village on the south east coast of West Bengal, life was never easy. The technology which existed in our lives are the usual suspects. A Videocon colour TV, a Philips two-in-one radio, a Kelvinator fridge and my most favourite Nintendo TV games which introduced me to two of my all time favorite games, ‘Mario’ & ‘Contra’. But as we had to live in the era of state electricity boards, most of the time these gadgets never worked due to load shedding. And that got me hooked into reading story books. Especially thrillers and science fictions. Issac Assimov & Phillip K. Dick were the two authors I loved to read. There were a few Bengali science fiction writers who were hugely inspired by H.G. Wells. And the local library had all the books.

          In one such book, I read about a device which is like a smaller version of a computer. Please note, I am talking of a time when Windows 95 was yet to release and the only portable device we knew off was the five and half inch floppy disk. The thought of this device made me visualize it my own way. Back then every machine used to have a jog dial, so my dream portable computer had a screen that is portable and can be attached to any device on the world. India was yet to experience the Internet then. So my first thought was to put this portable device to good use by playing Mario and Contra on it. With one of my imaginary devices I could connect it to any corner of the world and play a 2-player Contra. That device will also back up as a communication device and by attaching a handset to it, I could use it as a high powered satellite radio (That was also the pre-mobile age).

          Other than these, that device would store all the comic books in the world and I could read from those, write all my stories there and whenever I am tired, it would play music to soothe my mind. That imaginary gadget was all I needed to have a happy life. It would let write my stories, let me connect with people, keep me entertained, and keep my mind relaxed. I named it Vic-live (I was so sure I would invent it… if only physics marks did not betray big time).

          Ten years down the line, with the invasion of laptops, I finally believed, that something like this would happen and a tablet was exactly what I envisioned Vic-Live to be. And surprisingly it does the same things that I wished Vic-Live to do (well, without my imaginary jog-dialled accessories). And with the portability it allows me to do all those things on the move – working, reading, listening to music and more. But the one thing I still enjoy on a tab is playing a game. Unfortunately I don’t have the contra anymore, but I have Temple Run, Subway Surfers, Batman and my favourite Plants vs Zombies. Wherever I have a little time in my busy life, be it at airport, waiting to meet someone, taking a break from work, I quickly go back to my game to finish another level. And this takes me back by twenty years when I used to sit in front of my Nintendo and wait to finish one level. Technology changes, gadgets change but the emotions always stay the same. For years we build this emotional connect with technology, and it never lets us down…

          Monsoon Festival from The Hills of The Northeast.

          What is that, which you cannot live without? Oxygen! And?  And yes! Water! Water is life. Water has helped us grow as a species. Civilizations have flourished by the banks of great rivers; technology has progressed by leaps and bounds- all with the aid of water. No wonder water is venerated all over the world, no surprise that we celebrate the rains and worship the rivers. In other words we love the first soothing showers of monsoon, especially more so after the seemingly long spell of summer heat.

          India celebrates the monsoons in many colorful ways, with rituals and traditions characteristic of a particular state. So we have Teej in Bihar, Rajasthan, and almost all of North India: Raja Sankranti in Orissa; Onam in Kerela which welcome the Monsoons grandly. The verdant freshness, the newly washed look and the cool breeze of the Monsoons bring a festive air to the whole of the country setting off numerous celebrations. Even religion has deep and significant correlation with this season as can be seen from Janmashtami, Raksha Bandhan, Naag Panchami , Ambubachi mela (Assam), Kang or Rathyatra (Manipur)to name a few which has it roots in mythology. Speaking of Religion, it will be unfair not to mention the Saffron procession of Kanwarias , the devotees of Lord Shiva , on foot from all over Indian in Sawan or July-August to Haridwar to fetch a kanwar or the baskets of Ganga jal (Water from the Ganges). And of course we have the biggest celebration of all, though unrelated to the monsoons, but one which is the most important for all of us Indians- The Independence day.