Friday, February 12, 2010

Things that you SHOULDN'T do when you are a teenager.

When Arjuna asked me to write on the topic of teen, I got scared, because I realized I am no longer qualified as a teen, ouchie, that hurts.

So when does a person enter in his teen? I decided to ask a few 'teens' this question,

My sister, who recently turned 18 says, when the number of pimples grows more than the number of cards you get on your valentines day(seriously? I should spy on her, no?)

My very good friend Abhinav(now, I seriously doubt if he considers me friend or just a source of illegal money) who is now 16, says you are a Teen when you watch MTV more than cartoon-network (yeah right, I still watch cartoon network ok, they have better shows)

My teenage began in the Pune-local train as I used to travel it to reach Modern College all the way into Pune city (20 min train ride from my house). Now Arjuna, has asked me to share 'wisdom' on being a teenager (okay seriously bro, one advice, don't EVER take my advice), I have only one advice, always wear good sports shoes, easy to run. I will only share my days as a teenager.

My half teen-age was spend running, running to catch a train, running from guys whose journal I used to steal and then give to some juniors to copy, running from OMS (outer Maharashtra state student) when I used to trash someone of their group the previous night, running from professor as I tried convincing them I am not from their college and was sitting in lectures just to gawk at girls, running to catch the morning (adult) show in Mangala theatre and then again running to catch the 2 o'clock lecture because the professor Apte knew my face, most of the time running from TTE in railways for traveling in first class on second class ticket (Seriously those 6 years of my life where excellent, if I had ran so much in life I would have excelled in everything)

Those who remember me from those days, still can't remember when I entered Modern College campus. I used to leave home at 7:10 am local train, then catch a morning adult show at 10:00 in Mangala Theatre (back then it was simple theatre, now its a multiplex and no morning show now boo hoo) then I used to go and attend Fergussion college lectures to gawk at the foreign students who came to study. Sit for hours in Kimaya (of fergussion college) or hanuman tekdi to trouble couples sitting there or go and eat kacchi dabeli at Deccan, all these places at the distance of 20 min from Modern and my only means of travelling was walking (pocket money was sparse, it was year 2004 and 100 rs was something glorious for all)

I did enjoy those days, four years of my life I will never regret. I experienced freedom then, enjoyed life.

If you are a teenager, I will tell you one thing, tension nu goli maro, go enjoy your life, I smoked, I drank alcohol, yes I did all those things for which I will be thrown in hell for like a million times I studied hard and tried to get distinction (yeah right, but I am told by someone to say this), but I enjoyed it and if you want to enjoy your life, detach your brain and go freak out, but do it on your own terms, don't try to be someone else you are not.

Life is more confusing when you are in your teens, enjoy it, don't cry over it and don't squeeze those pimples, everyone have them. They go.

Finally, chill out guys. To hell with life, just chill maro and have fun.

To Arjuna,


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Out Of My Teens

I was never a teenager in my teens!

By teenager I meant, no tantrums, no late-nights, no ego clashes, no thick-headedness. Instead I was an obedient bookworm with not much of a social life, not a thing for partying, no booze, no smoking, ultra-philosophical, fashion-disinterested... No wonder my mother was so happy!

Little did she guess that I'll start behaving like a teenager when I'd turn twenty. And that it'll be such an intense phenomenon, that will show absolutely no signs of abating!

Being a teenager had always seemed too over-hyped to me. I used to enjoy less and introspect more. But that was me, and I wouldn't change that for anything in the world. My teenage days was the time when I really grew up.

A beautiful world slowing started showing cracks and the bright colors started to fade. it was much like as if my vision was improving, new glasses for my myopic eyes. and I wished (then) that I could have held on to my naivety. And I turned a cynic.

A cynic with no experiences how to deal with the big and ugly world. Even with all my anti-teenager attributes, I created enough trouble for myself, that if I had had the chance to correct it I would. But never would I give up all that I learnt from them. I guess, what  I would have wanted to be is smarter rather than gullible, understanding than believing blindly, kind rather than self-sacrificing.

I discovered human minds and emotions, understood psychology because I spared them a thought. And every bit was hard-earned, some from my mistakes and some from others'.

But slowly at the end of my teens, when I could see through most facades, the hazy and scratched glass to look at the world, i found the real beauty. A beauty beyond the obvious black and dirty and hurtful.

Childhood is the period of a life that gives shape to the dreams of a lifetime. We either spend our lives living up to them, or living down the miseries of them. Teenage years I believe, gives us strength and moulds us the way we will be for the rest of our lives. As the most impressionable years with developing ideology and understanding, we shape who we will be in our teens.

My teens brought me knowledge, illumination and faith. I looked at losses and sadness so closely that I understood happiness. I experienced betrayals (like everyone else) to understand the value of relationships. I saw destruction and mayhem to believe in miracles. I found power in me to believe that you are God. I discovered hope, optimism and life.

I learned to forgive. I learned to commend for one's goodness. I learned not to hate. I learned to believe, hope and be. I became the idealist I'm today.

And now, I have a lot of fun throwing tantrums. Being out till late nights with Mum calling me repeatedly on phone. Bunked classes in Masters to chill in the canteen (I'd never gone to canteens in my Bachelors!), be pig-headed on purpose, be overly sentimental, fight with my Mum-Dad over the most petty things, with my sister as to who will have that blue dress. And I enjoy it all. Totally.

ARJuna is my most favorite teenage blogger. Whose birthday it is today. In whose honor I wrote this sappy post. All i know about him is through the words he writes in the pages of his blog and I feel, he is one of the most intense, mature and thinking teenage I've met. I smile when I think, with my limited experience in this world, ARJuna is going to be one person who will be completely different from everyone else as he steps in to claim his place in this world.

I wish I could write a funny post or an absolutely engaging one. But all I could come up with was the not-so-interesting truth of my life. And I believe this post can have no better place than ARJuna's blog, not even in mine.

Happy Birthday, ARJuna!!

Even though you are turning twenty today, be a teenager forever!

Dream With Your Eyes Open

Dear Arjuna,

Thank you for the invitation to write on your blog. I am humbled that you would be interested to know thoughts and experiences from my teenage years and how it compares-contrasts with the present time. I do not want to write a generic post as that's not what you asked for ; you asked for specific personal experiences. I do not want to dole out advice, so this isn't one. I will however look back cathartic-ally with as much honesty as I can muster and recount. Given a sliver of a second chance, I would do many things differently ; while on some precious,treasured ones, I wouldn't change a thing. Here's one of each.

If this helps you, brings a smile or a laugh, that's my treat from you.

Hormones Playing Harmonium

Hormones influence your teenage years. I was no exception. I'm not talking of the cracked voice and facial hair -- that was a given. I'm not even talking of a Salman Khan-Sanjay Dutt inspired mullet or the baggy pants(what were we thinking !). I am however talking of the emotional-psychological aspect of it. I am talking of my transformation from a studious first bencher to a brat who had taken to bunking classes, hitting the movies, hiking the mountains and wandering the streets. Before long, the 12 year old who implicitly understood that his parents could not afford a school sponsored day trip(Rs.50-100/-) and would not even broach it up was creating a daily ugly scene -- demanding a motor bike(Rs.30,000/-) that we could not afford. Fortunately I did not take to drinking or smoking but I did have a major attitude issue. The worse part was that it was just at home. Outside, I was the same shy introvert(yeah, I was shy and introvert) people knew me from before...

But fortunately that changed..

A day before my 11 th std results(1 st year Pre University), I literally cried. I was scared that for the first time I might fail a class. Fortunately, I did not -- it was not a board exam and colleges were liberal in pushing us through. I left the bleak report-card on the table and hung around the house ready to be summoned by my father. He didn't. 2 days passed and it lay there. On the third it was placed in my folder with the others of it's ilk. Still no talk about it.

The silence did me in. Private tuition for 12 th std had started and I began studying like I had exams in a week. I quit watching TV, told my friends I would be out of town. It felt good. It was my silent ' I'm sorry'. A week later as I was reading, a hand landed on my head. He said little, but it was enough to make me want to continue what I was doing. It was a far greater high than bunking a class or acting hip.

Given half a chance I would not want be what I was during my 15-17.

They Are Not Perfect ; They Are Humans Too

I believe that most parents do the best they can and put their child's interest ahead of theirs. So are they perfect and devoid of faults ? No. Growing up I often disagreed ; we all in my family disagreed and had lengthy debates. But the unstated rule in our family was "Agreeing to disagree is fine ; not discussing, isn't " . That has helped us. Helped us not to accept the dogmas but to question it, probe it, understand it and analyze it.

After my turbulent 10th - 11th and I had straightened up, I was in a dilemma. Like most fathers Indian, my dad thought I would grace one of the IITs. My high school principal added to this. He also believed that I was ace-ing 'Target IIT' by Brilliant Tutorials and a similar program by Agarwal's he had ordered for me. The truth was, I sucked at it. Add to that now it was affecting my state board exams preparations. So, I had to sit my father down and tell him the truth. I concluded my case with 'I know I can get a good engineering seat in Karnataka - CET, on merit ; but if I straddle two boats, I might end up getting neither and in the water..' . 2 days and more discussions later he relented.

Was my father wrong ? You bet. But were his intentions/aspirations wrong ? No. Do I rag him about it even today ? Oh yeaaah ! ;-)

Most parents understand. Like mine did despite me downing Rs.3000-4000/- in the toilet for the IIT materials. That was no chump change considering my 4 years of engineering costed us Rs.5000/- and we just about managed that.

That's one thing I would not want to change -- discussions at dinner.

"Life is good, don't let anyone convince you otherwise. As long as you wake up and be the best you can be, as long as smile, honesty and dignity stare you back when you look in the mirror, you have done good.."
-- Anon

Few other lines that have stayed on and provide an inspiration :
  1. Success is not a spontaneous reaction, you need to set yourself on fire first.
  2. Courage is not the absence of fear ; it is the ability to surmount it.
  3. Play hard ; play fair ; play to win.
  4. God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth ; listen more, talk less.
  5. There's just one of you in the whole world. Why wish to be another's image when are already unique.
Good Luck and Happy Birthday !

Warm Regards ,

An Open Letter To My Son

This is a Guest Post by Shilpa Garg

Dearest Son

This is a jot from a mother whose son would be a teen soon!  

They say that the mother of a teenager is synonymous with apprehensions and fear.

Why, you may ask!!

Well, the reasons are many and thoughts are plenty…

I know that the teenage is a very delicate stage of life. It is the intermediary stage of growth between childhood and adulthood, where one is struggling for autonomy and identity. There are biological transformations and the child runs into a number of emotional tribulations. The nature of an teen’s behavior is greatly influenced by his friends and companions. There are a lot of pressures too.…

  • the studies
  • the career decisions
  • the dilemma of choosing the ‘Right’ or the ‘Wrong’
  • the conflict between the family values and peer group beliefs
  • personal appearance…

With so much of exposure at a young age today, your life as a teenage in coming times (and even now) is surely going to very very different from the one I had.  But, I believe whatever the advancements or modernization, the basic principles or the rules to live by will remain the same. 

Today, I’d like to share my learnings, beliefs and thoughts for you, the would-be-teens or teenagers…

  • Share. Express yourself…your thoughts, your ideas, or just anything with your parents. It will help you tremendously and help them understand your dreams and aspirations better.
  • Accept yourself as you are and identify your unique strengths and build on them.
  • Have realistic expectations.
  • Eat healthy and stay healthy.
  • Exert yourself physically in some outdoor game.
  • Read. Read. Read. It will open up a whole new world for you.
  • Appreciate what you have and count your blessings.  The grass is not always greener on the other side.
  • Choose your company wisely.

I am not going to promise that it would be easy. But then nothing is impossible.

May you enjoy, love and grow in your teen years!!

Love you


Moving On...

Today, I complete 20 years of age.

Today, I am officially (or rather theoretically) an adult.

Today, I cease to be a teenager.

I entered my teens like any other kid, unknowingly, unaware of what life had in store for me and the rest is, as they say, is history (at least for me).

The past 7 years have been full of struggle, of understanding and of new degrees of freedom. From the day that I travelled to coaching class alone (in a BEST bus) for the very first time to the day that I decided to pursue further studies in a field of my choice, it hasn't been a bed of roses but it is a journey worth remembering.

Mistakes have been committed, Choices have been made, some of which I have learnt to deal with, others I chose to forget and still others that I will regret for years to come. Yet if someone were to ask me - If you had that one chance to go back and live those years all over again, would you live them differently? - my answer would be No. I would love to exist in that period of my life once more but I wouldn't change any of it. For what has happened, has happened but what has happened has helped me become the person I am today and I don't regret it.

I have learnt in these years that the world is unfair and all the people in it aren't what you expect them to be. But that doesn't mean that I need to forget my conscience and my principles. Money and status isn't everything, at the end it is your satisfaction and your family that matter the most.

There are many people that deserve credit for all the 'good' part of me. My Mom and Dad, my teachers from Indian School, Muscat, my friend Yogesh (it is because of him that I know the exact meaning of friendship) and lots of others who have been a part of my life inconspicuously helping me and guiding me.

It's not like the journey ends here. There are many questions yet to be answered and many experiences yet to be had. And yet these years, I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Not a Confused Teenager anymore but still Confused!

This is a guest post by Ashish Gourav

Everything in this world is new as well as old. Sounds ambiguous? New and old are relative concepts and are quite fuzzy in nature. Though you may slam my first line saying that even the laptop on which I’m typing is either a brand new purchase or an old valued possession. Exactly! That is my point. When you buy any physical good it remains new to your perception for weeks or maybe months, especially if you are a gadget-freak and the thing talked about happens to be laptop, any hand-held device, and etc…confused? Read On!

[Image Courtesy]

However, explaining that all transcendental thoughts are new and old at the same time is quite easy. Better don’t get me started this time and figure out yourself.
Our life can be chronologically arranged in the order:

1.Infant stage…an oblivious sojourn.
2.Childhood…legal hooligan!
3.Childhood again…pregnant with confusion.
4.Onset of Teenage err puberty… priceless :P
5.Self-proclaimed matured Teenager…confused confused confused :(
6.Teenage over…early 20s…Confusion at peak.
7.Adulthood…No Idea!

With teenage comes great responsibility, not in the usual form but a responsibility to nurture the confusion and inquisitiveness about the world, people, every physical phenomena, emotions, relationships and etc… escalated by hormonal rage. The quantitative and qualitative level of confusion decides our achievements and failures in life. Confusion is a good emotion. The more you are confused, more doubts would be cleared.

Confusion drives us crazy in our teens. We choose our career, hobbies and other interests governed by our confusion. The reason most of the teenage romantic relationships break and (/or) are termed as “first-immature-crush and not love” is confusion and to an extent a combined effect of “testosterone, estrogen and progesterone”.

[Image Courtesy]

As we grow old and come out of our teenage phase, and enter into early 20s we experience new changes and confusions still remain unresolved. We lose our zeal to be inquisitive and the passion fades in a subtle manner to maturity. If we refuse to mature and if the confusion persists it fuels the burning fire to "follow our dreams". Most of the successful people are results of this confusion. The world betrays them while they appear confused. It never bothers them; to them their dream is more important. The passion with which they follow their dreams and try to seek an answer for their confusion is the only driving force in their case. When they become successful and powerful, people are awed by the sheer brilliance of their ideas, dedication, perseverance, talent and endless list of adjectives. We think now they have come out of their confused state but we are wrong, they are still confused!

For mango-persons (aam-aadmi) like you and me, confusion is not a virtue but we should think again. The baby we give birth to as confusion in our teenage should be nurtured and made a responsible, disciplined and honest means to expression of our thoughts.

Perx describes a typical teenager as bored, frustrated, confused and angry. Agreed!

The anger, frustration and confusion should be channelised for pursuing our dreams.

“Sometimes I'm confused by what I think is really obvious. But what I think is really obvious obviously isn't obvious...”
- Michael Stipe

PS: ARJuna turns 20 today!
PS: Happy Birthday ARJuna
PS: Thanks for inviting me to write a post in your blog.
PS: Readers can visit my blog from here.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Footprint Of Service

A quote from February 1st issue of TOI;

"Gates has slammed Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for wasting money on hair transplants instead of helping the starved... Gates told the newspaper 'Suddeutsche Zeitung' rich people spend a lot more money on their own problems - like baldness - than they do to fight malaria."

This set me thinking, irrespective of how rich we are, how many of us think about the underprivileged?

A sad fact - I don't. I am sure most of my batchmates from college or youth belonging to my age group don't think about such stuff either (a select few do and I do not deny that) almost all of them are busy nurturing their own ambitions.

The reason is simple enough. We are trying so hard, to establish our own identity in the society, to make sure that we can eke out a living after we pass out of college, trying to swim towards the elusive 'Indian Dream', that in this struggle we tend to block out every aspect of the society that is beyond our sphere and utility. But this reason isn't good enough!

Why don't we consider social entrepreneurship as a career or volunteer for NGO's in the social service sector.

Maybe it's time we kept aside our dreams of hefty paychecks, big houses and flashy cars aside for some while and looked beyond our own ambitions. It's time we stopped complaining how unfair life can be. It's time we do something to really help those in need of a better life.