Group of people on peak mountain

How Can I Help?

So, by the sheer result of persisting with it, I have become the Club President of my Toastmasters Club, Trailblazers.

This is the speech I presented as an acceptance of the Club President’s Role:

Hello Trailblazers!

Good Afternoon!

I would like to thank all of you for putting your trust in me by choosing me as the President of the club. I would like to assure you that I will continue to work hard in making our club one of the best places to spend 1.5 hours every week. I would also like to specially thank Toastmaster Narayanan and all the past officers under whose leadership we grew into a Select Distinguished Club.

Whenever we go for an ‘inception’ or start something new, we all feel an uneasiness in our stomach. Do you know that there’s a term for this:


Have you heard it before?

On June 3rd, 2016, when I joined this club, Trailblazers were celebrating our 75th Meeting. I raised my hand to volunteer for the table topics. Our then VP-Education and past President Megha, the Table Topics master, gave me the word ‘Collywobbles’ to speak on. That’s all. Just the word. And as you may guess, I had no idea about that word, then. I couldn’t speak for more than 10 seconds. I realized that I need to improve a lot. I need to be more active, learn more, speak more and if I spend some more time here, I will surely improve. It was all about myself.

But soon I realized one more thing. That when we join Toastmasters, we all join it for selfish reason. Oh I want to be better at this. I want to learn this. I want this.. I want that..

Over the course of time, I understood that we can do good for ourselves, only if we help and support others in their journey. Instead of asking who can help me or what I can get from the club, the only thing we need to ask ourselves, is ‘How Can I Help?’.

I will remind you of the most clichéd but one of the best stories about ‘How can I help?’ attitude.

In the Cold War era, when US and USSR were involved in Cold War, both the nations were competing fiercely in the space wars. Each one trying to outdo another. So in 1960s, John F Kennedy, asked the citizens on the US, that we must all try to put a man on the moon before the end of this decade. The whole nation started working towards that cause.

In Mid 60s, JFK was visiting NASA. He met a Janitor there. JFK asked the janitor, what his job was? Janitor said, proudly, that he is there to help put a man on the moon.

It is easy to not realize that each of your effort, can help others a great deal. When you take up the role of an Ah-Counter, you are helping someone to get rid of their fillers. When you become a Grammarian, you help someone get good at grammar. When you become a Sergeant-at-Arms, you break ice and your energy can transcend into audience. When you give a speech, how your words can impact someone, you never know!

Every little thing done by you, helps others in a great manner!

Can I request you that from now on, every time there’s an ask, you will jump in pro actively?

Can we do that?

Now my second request, to the officers in particular and members in general. I wish to make this club, the most fun place to be where you can spend your 1.5 hours every week. Remember the words, the most fun place to spend your 1.5 hours every week. And bonus part: Learn skills on the way. We should all strive to make this club, a Cult.

So instead of making claims that as a President, I will do this and that, I have just 2 requests from all of you.

1. Ask yourself before each session: How can I help?
2. And once you jump in to help, ask yourself, that how can we make the meetings more interesting and fun to attend.

Now, we have a new set of officers, ready to provide services to the club. I am sure that, whatever achievements our past officers have brought us, we will try to improve on them. Also, don’t think that the officer’s alone will run this club. Everyone has to contribute. Everyone is an officer here.

With our mutual support for one another, I duly accept the position of the President. Please feel free to bother me with any question, clarification, help or support you may need. I wish you all the very best. Looking forward to see you in next meeting.

I would conclude with this proverb:

‘If you want one year of prosperity, grow seeds. If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.’

Collywobbles – 2.0


So on May 10th 2017, I finished my 10 Projects from the Toastmasters’ Competent Communicator Manual. I am a “CC CL” now.

It took me 11 months, 8 days to deliver 10 Speeches. Excluding one Contest Speech which I delivered twice. That was some journey, I must say. Out of the 10 CC Speeches, I delivered 3rd, 4th and 5th twice. As the evaluator thought that I wasn’t good enough. I mean, it wasn’t a harsh evaluation as such but partly I didn’t take it in the right spirit, I must admit. I thought I did a fair job of achieving all the objectives. But the evaluator apparently didn’t think so.

In the 3rd speech, I used a visual aid which got into technical issues so I thought I should deliver my speech again.  I thought I did a fine job in my 4th speech but Evaluator suggested me to repeat. I delivered the second-time 4th Speech in a different club than mine. This club was 8 years old Club and had an audience of close to 30 people. I started in really good style but in the middle I felt my mouth going dry. And then bombed super hard there. I went blank for about 10 seconds (which felt like gigantically long) but still somehow, they gave me the Best Speaker Award there. In my 5th speech, again I thought I did decent but I was told to repeat. That actually irked me off. I almost felt like leaving this thing altogether. I assumed that Toastmasters was supposed to be a fun and friendly place where you could be supportive and encouraging. Being asked to repeat twice in a row didn’t go down well with me. So, I thought either I should quit or fight hard. I chose latter because I knew that I could do it. I shouldn’t get bothered by small lows as that one. So I concentrated on my CL, improving on my confidence and chose to deliver the CC5 Speech only after 100 days or so. But then I eventually did it and I was back at it, with more energy and passion.

I decided to explore other clubs where I could go and face a totally different audience. And so the 6th Speech was delivered in a different club. That fetched me Best Speaker again. I delivered my 10th speech again on May 16th in the same again as well later with another Best Speaker. After the 5th speech, it was a ride in 5th gear. I did my 5th speech in March and then raced, mind you with each evaluator appreciating the speech, with all the rest of the speeches in next 1.5 months. In the middle, I also participated in International Speech Contest and somehow won in the club too, didn’t win at Area level though. And contesting was anyways not my intention in my first year.

Collywobbles haven’t disappeared completely, which is actually a good thing too. But I thought it is good to jot down my experience from a really thorough, fully devoted and mind-bogglingly passionate last year.

So, let me share the changes I feel in myself after almost 1 year of my Toastmasters’ journey.

Disappearance of Fear of Public Speaking


Or getting rid of Fear rather

I feel that now I can speak to a big crowd, without feeling afraid of them. I might still feel nervous and jittery in order to trying to do good. But I don’t feel intimidated by an audience because, I know that when asked to come up on the stage, half of the people will dig their hands in sands, half of the remaining half won’t be able to speak anything understandable. So it is liberating to know that you are in the minority of people who can go up to a stage and speak. It might not really make good sense but ability to speak on a stage eliminates fear.

Huge Boost in Confidence

Man jump through the gap between jumping over cliff on


There will be a shift in one’s confidence surely. Speaking in front of a group, making people laugh, seeing people taking inspiration from your speeches, taking leadership roles, being a Club Officer to decide the future plan, makes one feel confident about oneself. You know that you have to plan something, and then deliver on it. And if it turns out good enough, you get the small shot in the arms which make you feel real good about yourself.

Being in a Classroom Again

There is always a feeling of going back to school when you are in a club. You feel like a student again. There’s so much to learn from others. So many in-jokes to share. So many times you feel like speaking impromptu. It gives a sense that nobody will judge you (of course they will but you get ‘so what who cares’ feels imbibed into you). Also, you might feel bored while someone is speaking. Totally like being a student, right?


Pic via Toastmasters Magazine

There are so many other changes but I am listing just the top 3. After my first year in Toastmasters, I could win these small tokens of appreciations. At least some people would have liked my speeches and at least a few of them would have taken some inspiration as well to do good in their journey.

Toastmasters Ribbons

Toastmasters Ribbons

Toastmasters Speech 9 : Black Mirror

As a follow up to my blogpost: “Dumbing my Smartphone” I thought of reframing it as my Toastmasters CC9 speech. CC9 is all about persuading your audience to take some action or change their beliefs. I attempted to ask the audience to do away with their phone’s notifications.

The title was inspired by the TV series Black Mirror. Do check that out!

Here’s the script for the speech:

Can I request you all, to take out your smartphones…
And place them in front of yourself on the table.
With the screen facing up
Thank you!

Toastmaster of the day, Fellow Toastmasters, And Guests!
Good Afternoon!

Now tell me, how long can you resist NOT looking at your phone screen?

Or even glancing it.

I am assuming that each phone here is in Silent Mode, but you can still have distractions, right?

Now can you please place your phone face down? Thanks a lot.

Since we don’t have any distractions anymore, can anyone here tell me about a term called “Gamification”?

The dictionary definition says: Gamification is the process of adding games or game-like elements to something like a task to encourage participation.

For example, there are Numbered Levels in a Video Game. As soon as you finish Level-1, the next challenge pops up. And you find yourself eager to go to the next level. And the next, and the next. There is a sense of reward, an achievement when one does that.

I am sure you can relate to another example.

Project 1 – Ice Breaker

Project 2 – Organise your Speech

Project 9 – Persuade with Power

Project 10 – Inspire your Audience

You get a Competent Communicator Award.

And then?

Advance Communicator Bronze, then Silver and, then Gold and so on.

Human Mind finds “Next Level” or in general “Numbers” irresistible. As soon as we achieve a level or a number, we want to go to the next. Then next and so on.

This Gamification concept, has been beautifully used on our Smartphones. Through a simple, harmless word called as “Notifications”.

Admit it or not, our ego gets a boost or a jolt when we see Notifications on our Phone. It could be a New Message. A +1 in number of New Friends in Facebook. Or New Followers on Twitter. We want to get more Number of Likes and more Number of Retweets. And as soon as we see a Notification Number on an app, we like to read it, we want to read it, we *have* to read it.

And this is how, we turn into ‘Screen Time Addicts’.

Too much of our time is being spent looking at our phone screens.

Studies show that, an average person, spends 3 to 4 hours looking at their phones in a day. That is, apart from office hours where we spend our time by looking at Computer Screens for at least 6 hours a day.

So do we all agree that we do spend a lot of time looking down at this black mirror, instead of looking up?

When we go to a restaurant, as soon as we settle down, everyone’s phones come out. And before taking the first bite, we first take Instagram Picture of our food. And after we take our first bite, we check again to see the number of Likes.

When we meet our family and friends, shortly after, we stop looking at them and instead start checking our WhatsApp messages. Looking for approvals and gratification from virtual friends than real people.

I don’t want to brag, but I have close to 900 friends on Facebook. I run a Facebook page with over 8000 Likes. I have over 1000 followers on my Twitter account and I am part of over 25 groups on Whatsapp. People love me? Heh, of course not. I get notifications left and right, morning or evening, day or night!

And I am *seriously* fed up of notifications. So much of distraction they are, which actually affects productivity.

So do we all agree that there is a problem, right? And we should do something about it.

I am going to try to help you all, and also, help myself through this speech. I am as much guilty of above actions, as you may be.

There are 3 ways to get rid of your Screen Time.

1st Way – The Hard Way

Throw away your smart phone or Drop it in the dustbin. Move on with life!

Of course, that is not possible. Phones are not free of cost. You have already spent more than your salary on them.

2nd Way – The Relatively Easier Way

Get your smart phone exchanged. And switch to this.

[ showed a dumb phone : samsung guru ]

This is the cheapest phone available. It costs Rs. 1200. It has no Internet, no FM, no Bluetooth, No MP3. No notifications. But it does its job of calling perfectly. And fits the pocket really well! Only notifications are SMS. And who sends SMS nowadays?

3rd Way – The Easiest Way

No need to throw your iPhones. No need to exchange your Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (anyways they will blast off themselves).

All you have to do is to switch off the things which can curb your Phone’s Gamification Quotient.

Go to your phone settings and then the app you use the most.

Just do this – Switch off the notifications. Simply. Block them all. No notification, no distraction.

Whenever you are free and want to get connected, you can open the app and see it directly. Instead of Phone pushing down notifications upon you. You can pull them yourself.

Shutting down notifications is the best thing which I did recently. It helped me to focus better, increase my productivity and allowed to me to talk more freely to people face to face. You can do the same. Just try it for a few days and see the difference.

We should only pay attention to one notification. Hiccups! They say, when someone actually remembers you, you get hiccups. That’s the only notification you should care about!

I have taken charge to not get notified every 5 minutes!

We should not leave our life on the mercy of notifications.

We should take control of our lives back from this Black Mirror.

High time we do this!

Let’s get back our lives!!!

Here’s a brilliant comic book style poster series for the show BTW:


And more:

International Speech Contest – Who Am I?

I recently participated in Toastmasters’ International Speech Contest. This starts at your club level, then Area, then Division, then District and then Internationally.

I won at my club level, surprisingly. And then moved to participate in Area level at IIM Bangalore. Although, I didn’t win there but I did good, as per my own expectations.

Here’s the script for the same:

Instance 1
I was in 12th standard. At a coaching institute in Jaipur. One guy walks up to me and asked:
“Are you from West Bengal?”
“Oh, but you do look like a Bengali?”
I was as confused as a non-Bengali when they hear Bengalis say ‘A for Orange.’

Instance 2
I had just reached Bangalore. I met a few people in company’s cab.
“Nice to meet you. My name is Abhinav Bhatt.”
“Oh Bhatt? Single T or Double T. Are you from Mangalore?”
“So you must be a Gujarati or… Kashmiri?”
“Ah, no, wrong answer!”
“But Bhatts are from there only!”

Instance 3
During an Interview when asked “tell me something about yourself…”
“Hi I am Abhinav. I’m from Jaipur, Rajasthan.”
“Ah Rajasthan. You must be a Marwari, right?”
“Err No.”
“Then, how far is desert from your place?”
“Desert? Oh that is about 300-400 KM. But do you know, we used to go to our school on Camels. And my mother used to travel 5 KM daily, to get us a bucket of water? Life was tough, indeed. Can I go and drink some water? I am perpetually dehydrated, you see!”

Has it ever happened with you? As soon as you give them a little hint about your name, surname or native place, people’s judgemental antenna come out. People start applying labels, tool-tips and subtitles to everything you say. They start judging you from the word go?

Oh you are a Northie? Hindi Speaking Paneer Guzzling Loud People!
Oh you are a Southie? All are Madrasis. What to say!
Oh you’re from North East. Noticed.

Happens! Right?

Sherlock Holmes is known for doing that. By seeing people, he gets to know, who are they, where they came from and why they’ve come! But, we all start behaving like Sherlock and start placing people on certain classifications as soon as we meet them as we deem right. Sherlock used the ‘Science of Deduction’. And we? We use the Art of Assumption. We don’t want to spend time to understand anyone. We have set rules to classify people and that doesn’t even take time. So, we judge everyone, in an instant.

I’ll share few real life examples:
I was in Hyderabad and for the first time, I had an interaction with a girl from Odisha. She told me, Abhinav, you are a boy. I said ‘Yes, of course why doubting?’ And you are an Engineer. I said ‘Indeed’. Then why don’t you eat Non-Veg and Drink Alcohol? I was as confused as you are or when one gets when one sees the payslip at the end of the month.

This was an incident which can be overlooked as being funny. However, Things turn ugly when this stereotyping goes beyond jokes.

You must be familiar about a racial attack which happen with African people in Delhi recently. Similar, there was a huge ruckus when an anti-North-East people Text Forward became viral and Bangalore and almost everyone from the North East had to run home for their lives.

When I hear such incidents, I question myself. Who I really am and what is my native place?

My ancestors belonged to some place in South India, near Pennar river. Then they moved north few centuries ago. Few landed at MP, few at UP, some took a detour towards Maharashtra and Gujarat. Rest of us landed at Delhi and Rajasthan.

That leaves me with a question: WHO AM I? WHERE I AM FROM? WHERE DO I BELONG?

Am I a Hindi Speaking North Indian who was brought up in Rajasthan, studied in a Punjabi School, and now works in South India? Seriously, who am I? And if you think about yourself. Who are you really? Where are you from?

And most importantly, do you think it matters? Do you think we have time to think about someone’s geographical background in today’s day and age. We are now so much connected with technology that it doesn’t matter where you are from. Everything is Global.

I take pride in my city and language I speak. But I fail to understand how does it make me superior or others inferior.

I look like the most average Indian brown-skinned person who could be any caste or religion, speak any language and from anywhere in India. If it can happen with me. Imagine what happens to those who: Look different. Speak different. Dress different. The only way, to stop people from judging others, is to wear this wherever you go around. And when everyone will wear this, it won’t give anyone else a chance to form opinions about others, just by reading the name, hearing the language and watching the color of the skins.

Do you want everyone to look like this?

Think about it!

Toastmasters Speech 8 : You're Fired!

Transcript of my 8th speech in Toastmasters. This uses Visual Aids. Aids means help (please!).

Toastmaster of the Day, Fellow Toastmasters & Guests!

Good Afternoon!


Before starting, I would request you to please spend few seconds on this slide.

Thank you!




How many of you have seen this around? No, I’m not talking about First Floor. But the big one.

(Others haven’t because they always use Elevators, don’t you?)

Have you ever tried to read it, thoroughly?

(I understand that you don’t have time. Fair enough!)

Have you tried to understand it?

(Now there lies the real deal, people!)

Nope! Nobody has gone through it properly. Because we are a bunch of lazy people. We don’t have time to read things. We can also understand, only if, someone else tells about it. Through a Speech.

For that specific reason, being the responsible person I am, I took it upon myself. To tell you clear and concise steps, which you should follow, if you come across any Fire Hazard.

I’m going to tell you, in most lucid terms, the Do’s and the Don’ts you should follow, when you encounter fire in your surroundings. Specially workplace. I will share few Time Tested Tips which will help you gain confidence to overcome such tough times. The Goal of this speech is to make sure that each and every person in this audience knows what to do and what not to do. This would help you to save yours and your colleagues’ respective lives!



Imagine this situation:


You are working desperately hard and the deadline is upon you. You have 100s of pending tasks and your boss is eating your head to finish the work ASAP.

You start praying


And VOILA! God listens to you!

You hear loud continuous alarm.




Now here are things you should NOT DO.

  1. Don’t try to become Sherlock Holmes and try to find the source of the fire. Leave that job to the Professionals or as we call them here in Oracle, the Emergency Response Team.
  2. If in case you actually find fire nearby,


“Fire in office! Enjoying the thrill. #FiringInOffice” with 21 others.

NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER think of doing this.

Fire or no fire. This is not the right human behavior. Please.

  1. If you have heard the alarm, and think that it is no big deal. You are doing it wrong!!!

Now here are things you MUST DO.


  1. First Escape and then call for help. Leave all your belongings and Laptops and just run. You may inform others on the way but don’t wait for anyone. Remember that , they will also not wait for you. That’s how life is, unfortunately.
  2. Now where would you run actually? Good question. Thanks for asking! Always be aware of the escape plan which you can find on all floors. Keep that in mind and find the ways to stairs.
  3. Head over to the Safe Assembly Area Straight. Don’t take any Detour. Go there and as instructed by the ERT people, stand in line so that they can take a headcount.

One more thing


Also, one more thing. NEVER USE ELEVATORS when there is a fire hazard. Always use stairs. Difficult I know, but a little inconvenience can save your life.

Now there may be a case that no one is there to help. Only in that case, you can try to be a Superhero and try to douse the fire. But do you know how can you do that? Yes, by using Fire Extinguishers.

But do you know how do they work? Of course, no. Don’t worry. I have got you covered.


So that you don’t become NO-MORE, you should KNOW MORE about Fire Extinguishers. You can find out their type by looking at them. There are many types of Fire Extinguishers but as far as work place is concerned, there are generally 3 types:


Type A –


Type B –


Type C –



I hope now you are well-equipped as to how to save your life during a fire hazard. I hope you paid attention to this speech. If not, you can still save your life if you attend next fire drill. To summarize everything, here’s a recap.


  1. Attend Fire Drill. Most people skip it, or take it very lightly. But it is the nearest real life simulation available. Don’t avoid it, please!
  2. Keep Escape Routes Clear
  3. If you smell something weird, report immediately to the facilities team
  4. Keep your eyes and ears open for instructions from the ERT Team. They know.

We don’t know when emergency might strike, but it is good to be geared up to be knowledgeable enough to handle it. Now how many are comfortable in knowing what to do in case of fire. If you need more information we could talk after the session.


I wish you the best and a safe work environment. Here are the references I used to make this presentation. Over to Toastmaster of the Day!

Here’s the presentation:

P.S.: I delivered this speech wearing the Orange Vest, a Fire Safety Professional Cap and a Whistle. 😛


Toastmasters Speech # 7 ‘Anonymous’

Greetings citizens of the World!

Speech 7 in Toastmasters is ‘Research your topic’ where one has to search and research about some topic and deliver a 5-7 minutes Speech.

I recently had watched We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists (2012) on Netflix which gave me this idea to speak about ‘Anonymous’ the hacker + activist group. Most of my research was derived from the documentary. Rest was sources from The Internet as usual. Not saying that all the facts stated here are 100% true but they’re not 100% false either. Because facts, you know, can change based on opinions. 😉

The following is the transcript of my speech:

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Let me ask you all… Can you guess, from where this verse has been taken?

Alright / Correct, this is taken from an amazing British Graphic Novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, named, V For Vendetta. This was also made into a movie in 2005. I’m sure many of you must’ve seen it. If not, please read the graphic novel or watch it.

Actually, this phrase comes from an event in British history. A person named Guy Fawkes had planned to assassinate King James I of England and the members of the Parliament with a huge explosion. However, this was prevented with his arrest on 5 November 1605.

Another question, do you know about this mask? What is it called? Indeed, this is Guy Fawkes Mask. Generally linked to “Revolutions”. Now before you think that I am going to start something related to Political Revolutions, you are almost.. wrong.

This is a speech, not about the traditional revolution per se, but about methods of revolution in today’s day and age.

Nowadays, this mask is the symbol of “Anonymous”! I’m sure you must have seen this in some movies or TV shows.  They’ve always been shown wearing this mask. In their videos, or their display pictures and even physically during a protest march.

Anonymous is a loosely held group, whose members are spread all over the world. They are hackers and activists, usually called ‘Hacktivists’. This group started takings its shape from an image sharing website called as 4Chan. It started out as just a joke where they shared Photoshopped images as memes. But eventually, it took the form of a group of like-minded people who used their computer skills to achieve a bit more than making memes.

This group doesn’t have any leader. They don’t have any headquarter and they don’t even have meetings. And one doesn’t have to even register to be a member because everyone is temporary.

Anonymous does most things in a Non-Violent manner. They make jokes against wars, against Global Warming, Media, Homophobia, and even help WikiLeaks occasionally with their Hacking Skills.

  1. Once they hacked into Fox News’ Twitter account and posted that Obama has been assassinated. As a joke.
  2. During the Arab Spring of 2011, they helped the local people in organizing protests marches.
  3. They have tried relentlessly to keep Internet free and Democratic and launching attacks against Facebook’s privacy breaches.

They can do all of this because the Internet is a free place! It is as Democratic as Democratic can be. You can be Anyone, from Anywhere, And Access mostly Anything!

On the Internet, anyone can be Anonymous and sometimes even bypass laws online.

So not everything the Anonymous have done was harmless pranks and practical jokes. Some of their members have also crossed the line-online.

  1. Once they launched a DDOS (Distributed Denial of Services) attack on a Religion’s official website. That is as simple to understand as about 10,000 people logging on to a site simultaneously, and thereby crashing the servers. 
  2. Some of the members indulged in some serious hacking and stole data from and Sony.
  3. They have hacked political parties Websites, Twitter and Facebook accounts and posted what not! They have vandalized properties with Graffitis!

Their modus-operandi is pretty plain and simple. They communicate using social media, sometimes using cryptic messages to others, which may sound like silly jokes to others. If you have seen the TV series, Mr. Robot, that will give you a slightly detailed idea as to how can the Internet be used to do big things!

Democracy on the Internet is obtrusive. While some cherish it, others think it is a breach of privacy and laws on Land or Online should be same. For some Anonymous are a bunch of kids who want to disrupt the status quo and should be put behind bars. For some Anonymous are Robin Hoods who should disrupt the status quo. Anyone could be an Anonymous member. Maybe among the audience here, some of you are a member.

I will end by stating the phrase, Anonymous always leave behind, after their operations:

We are Everyone. We are No One.
We are Legion.
We do not Forgive.
We do not Forget.
We are Anonymous.
Expect us.


And I forgot to mention, that I delivered this speech in a peculiar format.

When my name was called to come up on the stage, I wore this mask, walked all the way up to the stage wearing this mask. Shook hands with the Toastmaster of the Day. And then recited the ‘remember remember…’ verse. Then I took off the mask and delivered rest of the speech, till the last phrase Anonymous is famous for when I wore the mask again and delivered the lines in a slow menacing way. Fun!

And here’s my audio rehearsal:

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