Saturday, January 21, 2006


Courage, its a word most of us use sparingly to show respect for an act or a person. But it is also a word whose essence very few of us can comprehend. A few incidents that happened around me made me embark upon a search for the true meaning of this word. And wonder of wonders I ended up at the one place everyone visits these days to learn about everything from neo classical art to sex-ed, Google. What google dished out for me was:
Courage-The state of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear or vicissititudes with self possession, confidence and resolution.
Now i don't know about the rest of you readers but I completely lost the plot at the v-word.The best way a simple soul like me can define courage is by narrating an incident that has become part of forklore. A student of literature was asked to write a five thousand word essay on courage and his submission consisted of only one sentence, one sentence that summed up the students understanding of courage without saying anything about it. He wrote " This is courage ". In my mind this story always stands out because it doesnt talk about glorious deeds of saving people and countries or embarking on perilious adventures but a simple act of having faith in oneself and doing what one believes in. If you are thinking " what the hell is this guy talking about?" remember to count your blessings because you havent been put in a spot where you have to choose between a conventional, safe option that people advice you to take and an what you truely want to do. I have seen many people fall prey to this phenomenon. The guy living next to me in my dorm is a real genius, he could have done anything he wanted to do in life and currently he is sitting on an amazing job offer from one of the biggest investment banks in the world. But it is hard to miss the twinkle in his eye when he talks about his one true passion, aeroplanes. Then there is this other guy I know who has tried his hand at everything creative. He has acted in plays, written songs but his one true love has been painting. However by stroke of luck or misfortune ( I dont know which one) he landed up at the most premier management institute in Asia Pacific (or so they say!). He seems happy but I have caught him letting out a sigh everytime he looks at his sketches. I think he is thinking "what if?" Maybe it is not my job to judge but I sometimes think these guys would have been much happier had if they had the courage to flout convention, give up their potentially secure lives to pursue their true passions. But then I wouldnt be using the term courage here if the choices were so easy would I?

Courage, I believe is also the ability to face your arch nemesis, your ego and come out trumps. There is this certain person who would never ask a girl out no matter how much he wants to because he, or rather his ego is afraid of rejection and perhaps ridicule. "How silly is that!" you may say but that man's ego is so big that he is petrified of confronting it. Thats why I believe that the most courageous people are people who are able to make fun of themselves, their frailties and shortcomings without feeling the slightest wrench in their heart. It takes real courage for an obese guy to make fun of his girth or the wierd looking comedian, who is ubiquitious in most masala Hindi flicks making an utter fool of himself while the hero walks away with all the glory. I am sure these men have gone through phases when they questioned the reason for their misfortunes. But these guys have succeeded where many of us have failed. They have fought their egos, their complexes and have emerged victorious. Kudos to them for they truely deserve the title of the brave.

I think on this note I should stop the meanderings of my mind and wrap up but not before adding that you dont have to be a decorated war hero or an x-sports star to be truely courageous. Courage is displayed in the strength of ones will, in relatively mundane, not so dramatic choices that we make in our lives.

Monday, January 16, 2006

My Favourite Adventure Sport

I dont know why people believe that the average human being's life isnt frought with thrills and excitement. I believe people living their mundane lives face dangers and perils far greater than adventure sports enthusiasts, a club that i am a reluctant albeit active member of. The other day I was having a conversation with my backpacking buddy about the good times we had backpacking and trying out new thrills and out of the blue he pops the question ... " So whadya think is the most daring adventure sport ?" This question got me thinking for quite a while and finally the answer that appeared out of this contemplation was quite surprising. So here I am extolling the virtues of my favourite adventure sport .. Travelling in Mumbai local trains!

Alright i can actually picture the raised eyebrows of people reading this blog ( if there are any reading it that is!) but hold on to your horses for a minute willya. I admit this sport does not have the same glamour as jumping several feet off a ramp at high speeds or having the surf of perilious streams you navigate in your precarious little raft splashing in your face but travelling by mumbai locals has a little bit of everything for all you adventure sports enthusiasts. Let me give you a blow by blow account of what you go through on an average rush hour trip on a mumbai local.

First off you wait at the station waiting for the first train to arrive your senses primed like a hunter on an african safari. You see the minute speck approaching closer and you feel your muscles tighten in anticipation. As the train gently chugs into the station unaware of what lies in wait like the innocent game being stalked by a hound of wolves you jostle for space at the edge of the platform so that you can be the first one to get in. When the train finally stops you either pounce on the happless train or get carried into it by a wave of humanity that the most seasoned surfer would be proud to ride. Now that you are in the real fun begins. You find a way to wriggle into the last remnants of empty space contorting you body in wierd positions and balancing on two toes of your left leg in a way that would give the best yogis a complex. Suddenly your nose catches a strong odour and you realise that you are in a train full of people who believe that spraying themselves with fake brut is a more hygenic substitute for taking a shower.

The next thrill is only for people who have to live with the curse of being above six feet tall in India where the public transportation system seems to have been created for people slightly shorter than adolescent hobbits ( Hope Tolkein doesnt have a trademark on this one ). The station arrives and somewhere behind you some person lets go off the handlebar and it comes and not so gently hits you on the head PLONK!! you move forward and PLONK!! another handlebar hits you on the head again .. you keep oscillating this way at the same time bracing yourself against the tsunami of people trying to get in till you feel you are a pendulum in one of those old clock towers. Finally after you have killed enough brain cells ( now you know why this piece sounds so dumb dontcha !) the train moves on to its next destination. After you have been through enough of such thrilling experiences its time for that final head rush! You have to GET OFF! You start inching towards the exit with the dexterity of a rock climber squeezing himself through the smallest crevices of mountains till you can finally see light ( or the slums which are at a hands lenght.. either one works) and you see a faint sight of the station. The train slows down and you feel like you are being jutted off the top of a terribly active volcano. Miraculously enough you seem to land on your feet and sadly your journey is over. Now you wait for when you have to take the train back home with bated breath ( or maybe you are just practicising holding your breath so that you dont have to take in the stink when you are in the train)

So there was a description of the most daring adventure sport in the world. Dontchu wanna try it?

P.S: Details like groping and leching by fat middle aged and apparently homosexual men have been left out mainly because the blogger is too embarrassed to admit he has been subjected to it