Photo by Nathália Bariani on Unsplash

Toastmasters Storytelling Project 4 : Who will cry when you will die?

This is a story about a couple who lived in a small town named Teresopolis in Brazil. It was the golden hour time when the Sun was about to set and the shadows of the surrounding hills were engulfing the golden rays of the sun across the farmlands.

The breeze of the autumn evening was very soothing and the weather was extremely pleasant. Bob and Maria were strolling across their farm which was located in a picturesque valley near a river and a hill. It was one of those days when they were discussing the life they had lived. They had mostly lived a happy life. Bob had been a farmer all his life, while Maria used to run a bakery. They weren’t very rich but they believed they had enough. They always loved what they did and they were satisfied with how the life had turned out for them. They didn’t have any regrets but they had only one thing missing in their happy life. They had no kids of their own. Many of their friends had told them about adopting one. But they believed that it was their fate so they had happily accepted it.

On their way, back to their home, they noticed some squeaking noise coming from somewhere nearby. They tried to locate the source of the sound but didn’t see anything. Bob walked towards the barbed wire boundary of their farm and noticed something. He called Maria. Maria asked him what was there? He just kept on smiling. Maria then went and found a small puppy struggling to cross the boundary and come into their farm. The small brown puppy had somehow entangled its body halfway and couldn’t cross or go back. Its watery eyes and his small cute squeaks sought for help. Bob carefully removed the pup. As soon as the puppy got free, it started licking Bob’s boot and fluttered its tail to show his love and gratitude. He handed it over to Maria and told her to take care of their new guest. Maria smiled back and took the puppy into her hands and gave it a small kiss on the forehead. Sun had almost set now. They took him back to their home and fed him.

Since the puppy didn’t seem to have anyone looking for it, they thought of taking care of it. They had a big farm to look after and the puppy had enough space to play around. Their bond kept on getting stronger and stronger. The petite canine made them young again. They used to feed him, take care of him, pet him and Bob used to take him for a walk while tending to his farm. They started to see their unborn kid in the little dog. They named him Leao.

Years passed. Leao had grown up now and the Bob and Maria had got slightly older. Life had become much happier since the advent of Leao. The feeling of not having their own kid had now subsided. The family of Bob, Maria and Leao were happy and content.

One day, there was a forecast of heavy rain and a violent storm in the town. The growl of the wind was turning more and more violent. The skies had turned dark gray and the storm was becoming more and more dangerous. Bob shut the house door and he along with Maria and Sam thought of staying indoors as the forecast was of heavy rain. It kept on raining all night. They thought that they were pretty safe in the confinements of their house but it wasn’t to be. Due to heavy rain, the river developed flood-like situation and the water overflowed. This was one of the most brutal floods in Brazil in recent times. Several hundred lost their lives and many were dislocated. Bob and Maria struggled to keep themselves safe but unfortunately, they got the bad luck when their house was washed away by the strong currents and heavy winds.

Leao survived though. The very next day when the rains stopped and flood subsided, their bodies were found near a tree which had somehow stopped them from flowing into the river. The town authorities dug mass graves for the deceased. They buried Bob and Maria along with the other unfortunate souls. Leao had no place to go now. But Leao didn’t want to leave his parents. So, he stayed near their grave for days. After not leaving the grave for 7 days, eventually, Leao understood that his parents won’t return back.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1347862/Brazil-floods-Dog-refuses-leave-owners-graveside-death-toll-tops-630.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1347862/Brazil-floods-Dog-refuses-leave-owners-graveside-death-toll-tops-630.html

I will leave you with a question to ponder. Have you done anything good for someone? Have you ever given a thought to the question: Who will cry, when you will die?

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Photo by Simson Petrol on Unsplash

Toastmasters Storytelling Project 3 – Moral of the Story – “F News”

It was one of the busiest days at work. I was deeply engrossed in my laptop. It was the last day of the project deadline, so the surroundings sounded of silence and seriousness. Everyone on my team had skipped lunch that day. My attention was divided between the software application I was working on and my mailbox in which I was expecting some emails from my colleagues about some critical issues.

Meanwhile, just to set some context, a couple of days ago, I had just finished my first year at the office, which also happened to be my first company. I, along with all my batch-mates who had joined on the same day, had received our first ever salary hike letters. We were generally in a mood of congratulations and celebrations. As you know, the first hike letter is special!

As I was expecting some very serious mail about critical issues, I got a message in my inbox. It was from one of my batch-mates. I ignored it for time being and kept on doing my work. Within minutes, then I got another message from another batch-mate. I ignore that too as I had to concentrate on my work. The deadline was lurking. After few minutes, few more emails came. Apparently, there was a mail chain going around with everyone replying to all. After ignoring them for a while, I opened the latest mail. It said that one of the friends had “heard” that the new batch of joiners have been given much higher package and that exceeded our current salary plus the hikes which we were to receive. As you all know, people are very emotional about money. This had started a chain-reaction. Many people had started replying to all in the same mail chain that “how wrong this is and we should do something about this. How could the company betray us like that?” Mind you, I had more than 50 batch-mates.

This replying to all going on for a very long time eventually choked my email inbox. I was neck-deep-busy that day but now my concentration had been compromised due to this unnecessary rumormongering. This constant barrage of email volley irked me. After ignoring for a long while, I decided to end the matter once and for all! I replied to all saying that I have just talked to the HR Manager personally and if this email chain does not stop, everyone’s hike would be canceled. I also added at the very end of the email that I was kidding but please do not send emails to all about such kind of confidential matter, as it is not at all professional.

And that worked! The shower of emails stopped. Some of my friends who thought I was really serious came to my desk and I told them that nothing’s wrong, I was just joking as I had got frustrated with the constant bombardment of emails onto my inbox. I told them about the last line of the email and the matter ended with laughter.

Everyone moved on with their lives. We finished our project on its deadline and life went on.

A few days later, I was at home on a vacation. I got a call. It was from office. I picked up. The person on the other side said that he was the HR of the company I was working in. He revealed that he had been forwarded that email of mine. The email also did not contain the part where I had said that I was joking. The tone of the HR was very serious. He asked me who had given me any right to spread such misinformation. I told him the whole story but he asked me whether I sent the mail or not. I said I did send but my intention was not to spread fake news but rather to stop spreading rumors. The HR said he does not care whatever was intended but since I was the one whose email he had received so I was to be blamed. He scolded me for 30 minutes before hanging the phone up. Luckily, he left me with a warning of never doing this again.

Toastmasters and guests, our generation is a generation of information. We all receive such messages. For example, UNESCO has declared our National Anthem as the best National Anthem. Drinking Coke after eating Mentos is Death by Explosion. Haven’t we? However, with this information overload, sometimes we receive some information, which is as far from the truth as Pluto is far from the Sun. There is an umbrella term for all such information. Can anyone guess? Yes, this plethora of misinformation is called ‘Fake news’.

Moral of the Story: First, do not believe the fake news. Always check several sources before forming your opinion. More importantly, do not react and spread fake news. In today’s age, whatever you share electronically, you have no control over where it will end up. Moreover, whether it will end up in its entirety or not, is out of your hands. I learned my lesson that day. Have you?

By the way, did you know that if you do not discuss this speech with 10 of your friends, you would have bad luck for 10 years?

Skin Whitening Shit

Whether you were near or away from the Equator,
You ought to have the tone which you assumed to be better

You tried to apply balm, creams, multi-colored ointments,
Still, you couldn’t get rid of the obvious resentments

Did you think it was NOT because of the color of your skin?
Or your short-sightedness or your current/last birth’s sin

You gave up, gave in and considered yourself inferior,
You let them have it, for superficial fun, you ruined your interior

How does it matter, what is the shade you have now, your life’s up for bids
You learned it from your elders and taught the same to your kids

Be Black, White and Asian like panda, they said
But you handed over your soul to the rules they laid

Hands up Panda!

Hands up Panda!

Till when will you wait, to raise your voice?
Most of it anyways will fade into the noise

It would work better if you could do see a bit,
First stop applying yourself any Skin Whitening Shit

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An Ode to the Bengaluru Road

Gone are those days, when people’s talking taste was only about Weather and Traffic. The new talk of the town, hey smile.. don’t frown, is the locations of potholes so specific.

They add to the beauty, and act as the dimple, oh road you cutie! They’re spread across everywhere in the city. They don’t spare anyone, a pedestrian or a wheeler, but only the helicopters and that’s a pity.

They are spread across all the roads in a peculiarly random fashion. You might avoid one, or may be even 2, but you cannot help but get into another and learn a quick driving lesson.

Because where else will you get such a lovely training to drive and BONUS: open your senses to the unpicked garbage’s stench for free? With increase in concentration and ability to stretch, (the answer is everywhere in the country).

Some manholes would be open, some would be absent. Some men will fall and become God’s tenant. Some holes would be wide, some will be narrow. If you haven’t bathe since yesterday, it will rain again 2 days in a row, carry an umbrella or you can take open shower tomorrow.

You have nothing to lose. It will only make you good, while driving with one hand as and putting the other to cover your no(o)se.

The randomness of the holes cannot be measured but at least that’s what makes them something to be treasured. As one survives the potholed lanes, one finally reaches the city’s foamy veins.

I saw one guard, stopping a cameraman from taking the pics of one of the lathery Lake. But all in vain as the froth was in full flow, lake gave everyone around a low blow, we inhaled more toxin than the pics that he could ever take.

So is the condition everywhere in Monsoon, or otherwise. The asphalt is laid but withers away too soon, and we keep tolerating it like common loons. We cannot be optimistic or get our hopes up because whatever dream of development you have, will, for optical fibre cable, get dug up.

Stranger Things

Toastmasters Speech # 6 ‘Stranger Things’

This is the script of my CC6 Vocal Variety Speech in Toastmasters:

Who all here believe in God?  

And who all believe in the “other entity”?

Rest are atheists here or just shy so that ‘they’ don’t listen to you?

Fellow Toastmasters welcomed Guests and those “guests” who are not welcomed but are here anyway, silently observing us, Good Afternoon!

I personally don’t believe in any entity for that matter. However…  sometimes, you may experience events which make you doubt your beliefs. Let me share with you, one such instance.

2 of my friends Abhishek and Abhilash, along with myself, Abhinav were planning an all-night-out trip.

Abhishek suggested, “Why not Bhangarh?”. He was always the adventurous type.  “Bhangarh? really?”, Abhilash said, who was not an outgoing person per se.“We can try..”, I added. 2 against 1, the majority won.

We decided to head over to a place called as Bhangarh, about 80 KM north of Jaipur, Rajasthan.  Bhangarh is also known as ‘Bhooton ka Bhangarh’, which means, ‘Ghost Town of Bhangarh’. Google it for more information. It is mostly in ruins now. But once upon a time, it was a small prosperous town with a fort, few temples, and a bazaar. It is said that the place was “cursed” by some priest and since then it has been in shambles.

It is often said that one shouldn’t go there after sunset. So, we decided to reach there by 9 PM to see what the fuss was all about. Because we thought, why not!

It was May, Friday the 13th, 2011 and a full moon night.

We reached the entrance of the Place. It had an eerie silence which reminded you of a cemetery. Slowly we climbed the metal gate and entered the compound. It led to a pathway, which had another smaller metal gate which rotates when one enters. I entered it first, carefully, watching my steps. The rusted old gate rotated and made a weird sound. We all looked at each other. We entered eventually and walked towards the deserted fort.

Most of the place was dark but we could see a dimly lit window on 1st floor. “Should we go there?”, Abhishek asked. Abhilash said, “Let’s go back home”. With trembling voice, I swallowed and nodded,  “No harm in trying”. With creaking steps and wide eyes, we found stairs to the 1st floor. The place had slight chill in the air, even though it was May in Rajasthan. We reached the 1st floor. The dimly lit room was about 50 ft away. We walked towards it. The room had a wooden door, slightly ajar and with cracks big enough to see that it was lit up from inside,  probably it had a lantern or a fireplace. As we reached closer to it, I heard giggling sounds.  Probably of a girl.   Sweat rolled down my cheeks and I slowed down. My heart was pounding so heavily that I felt it would come out of the rib-cage. Abhilash also heard it but kept on walking just because of curiosity. Abhishek was beaming with excitement to see the inside of the room and had ignored the sound completely. When we were just about to reach the gate, the door slammed open! BAM !!! and then suddenly room’s lights went poof! Pitch dark!   And then there was a sudden loud shriek. EEEEEEEE!!!

Just before it went dark, I am sure, I saw a glimpse of a young girl standing in the room with a doll with red hair.  

We, turned and without wasting any time, we ran faster than Usain Bolt, and kept on running till we had reached the main gate. We jumped into our car and headed back towards Jaipur. Nobody said a word till we had reached the safe confines of the city which had proper lights and warmth. We promised each other to totally erase this cowardice from our memories and promised to never do this stupidity again or even discuss this anymore.

Phew! Days passed. Eventually we got busy in our daily routine and put this incident behind us.

I still don’t believe in ghosts.  But that incident was strange, and weird, and scary. Maybe it was a prank by some people. May be I didn’t see properly in the dark. Or may be I was hallucinating. But my friends were there too and they also confirmed that someone was in that room.

Anyways, few days ago, I was returning from office, and it was late in night. When I reached my lane and was about 100 m from my apartment building, I saw one girl standing at road side. She was holding the same doll with red hair.

Back to Ghost-Master, I mean Toastmaster!

Rehearsal Audio

An Ode to ISRO

In a country like India, there are extreme contrasts in status of living. While we have the poshest malls with sleek interiors and shiny billboards, just few hundred meters from there, we can have poverty ridden neighborhoods which lack even basic necessities like water and spaces to live. We have metros swooshing over a bridge and can have families living under the same bridges oblivious to the rush above. We are known to move 4 steps forward and 2 steps backward in even things like common civic sense. Our Prime Minister has to explicitly mention about things like cleanliness and toilets even after almost 7 decades of Independence. I can go on and complain about things which are wrong in our country, but I will stop here.

This post is for the things that work and how!

In a country where people change their utmost important appointments due to some celestial object just transitioning another and thereby blocking our line of view of the latter creating a ‘sootak‘, we also have people who are constantly pushing the boundaries of what Indians (and humans) are capable of.

This is for ISRO.

When first humans set foot on the moon
the whole world moved and began to swoon
we also fluttered a bit while still in infancy
started things of our own, though not so fancy

25 days after that giant leap
a small org in India came into being
we were still young and just getting the hang
we started our own, though not with a big bang

Then PM met scientist Sarabhai, joined hands at par
and ISRO got formed from INCOSPAR
with humble beginnings and challenges that mar
it had to overcome them all and travel very far

You are drastically poor and can’t feed your own people
you still use bullock carts as your national vehicle
what are you going to achieve, they always asked
do tasks to mask your poverty, rather than trying to bask

They said, damn, you don’t need a space programme
It won’t work, it will all be a sham,
Just pray for the rain, you are a country of farmers
Harvest food not ideas, anyways you are just snake charmers

But

Some people relented and counter-challenged the challenge
They knew that they had it in themselves, ignored the barrage
Motive was not to display our astronomical might
But it was to give wings to the hope and push it to flight

Since ages India has always been keen in astronomy // and also astrology 🙂
it derailed in between but had to again get autonomy
From Zero to Mysore’s rockets, we always had sound minds
Hungry we might have been, but hungry also for other kinds

So it quietly worked and kept breaking new grounds
Sent several satellites and successes kept doing rounds
With every launch, it generates more and more amaze
It always fazes the doubts, but without hoopla or craze

The people there are, are totally unlike celebrities
The things they do, needs precise degree of alacrity
with apron clad gentlemen and saree clad ladies, young and old
they smile they cheer with subtlety, but that’s how they roll

Whatever its motive that time may have been
For me it is clear from what I have seen
it gives us hope that we can do a lot
Nothing is impossible if we have a mission to be sought

From Aryabhatta to MOM, we have come a long way
ISRO’s eyes are set on targets with no chance of sway
it enlightens the hope to overcome and explore
it keeps successes quiet and let its work to do the roar.

Made this small gesture with ideas from Newspace India and Sandy.

ISROCKS

ISRO’s Mars orbiter mission, Chandrayaan and Aryabhatta satellites

Well, I just wish to see more of their work to be displayed in schools and colleges, more exhibitions of the achievements, occasional site visits of the launches of the PSLVs, more boastful tweets like Elon Musk does, but I know that won’t happen. They will keep building amazing stuffs with seriousness and calm. But I am sure that they will continue to inspire and give smiles to us.

 

 

Update: Came across this interesting video:

Axe and Tree

There was once a confident but a fruitless tree
it kept swaying lightly, often with glee
Leaves were scanty and shade was small
Still it could give relief to one and all
Filtered the sunlight and made Sun more soothing
Travelers could take shelter and indulge in snoozing
Branches were short but when it rained
you could wait there, it didn’t much pain.

Tree wasn’t exceptional as it did what all others did too
It’s the basic job of the tree to see everyone through
It started boasting occasionally and carry an ego of its own
Trees around liked it anyways, for it, they had themselves sown
The ego however was growing more like a balloon
It had started to believe that it deserved much more swoon
But they wanted the tree to be more useful in another way
They wanted it to be eventually furniture-d away.

It’s the fate of the tree to be used for making a table
If you can’t give flowers, be a chair, it’s in the fable
But it had now become selfish and also quite stubborn
And acted like it could lead life on its own terms
Although, it was aware of its size and visible shortcomings
It still acted casual and was conscious of the jeers forthcoming
With time, gleaming leaves started falling, it started to concur
Other trees started showed anger, it’s time, stop being a wanker.

This poem is not at all related to the Biblical Luke 13:6
which talks of a non-fruitful tree which had gotten into Jesus’ fix
Destined it is though, that the tree had to eventually give in
It said you can cut one one branch at a time and let it sink in
They agreed and called a Lumberjack to do the due
Tree didn’t know of how much pain the Axe will spew
So an axe falls, other trees rejoice and a branch dismembers
Time goes on, we live and die, the axe forgets but the tree remembers…