Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Meandering Memorylanes

Then I was a “Bihari” now I am a “Jharkhandi” . Even though I left it for better future in 1998, my heart is still there.

I miss those long bicycle rides….those very competitive cricket matches…….time spent doing nothing with friends…… moments of idealistic boyish dream about the future……but most of all those memories of my home town……Mumbai has given me everything that I wanted, but the heart still lingers and misses Ranchi .

Mother nature had blessed Chotanagpur with a wide array of natural beauty. Rugged and richly wooded mountains, serene and secluded valleys, serpentine rivers and gorgeous waterfalls providing ideal habitat for people with thirst for beauty of nature, peace and tranquility. Chotanagpur is also blessed with the munificence of verdant forest wealth as well as sumptuous mineral reserves like coal, mica, bauxite, Iron Ore etc. It is also home for numerous ethnic tribes like Santhals, Mundas, Oraons, Cols, etc. who have their own rich tradition of art, craft and culture.

At the heart of this region, amidst sylvan surroundings nestles Ranchi the queen of Chotanagpur, which was once the summer capital of Bihar and was in the forefront of several movements of far-reaching significance both before and after the independence.

It is one of those places that might not find itself on your 52 weekend gateways’ must-see places. It's a "hmm, intresting very cute" kind of place which you would leave while you are planning a vacation,but even though it may not get a mention in tourist “hot spots” it is very much a Christmas Card town that you can imagine, picturesquely situated in the Plateau of Chotanagpur consisting of relatively flat terrain filled with green covers .

The name Ranchi comes from "Archi" a village/villager of the time in the area I am not sure. An important administrative and military base of the eastern India during the Raj, Ranchi developed as an important centre of trade and commerce, including a traditional base for sericulture and manufacture of shellac. After India gained independence, Ranchi continued to grow and a number of industrial facilities were located in and around the city, and it emerged as an important industrial centre. Along with other two industrial townships of Jamshedpur and Bokaro, Ranchi completes the industrial structure of Jharkhand.

Ranchi has changed……since that last fateful day of 1998 and I realized it when I was there last year in April ,I remembered the tribal festivals of Jatras, Janni Sikar which added to uniqueness of the place. There are mini Connaught Places and Nariman Points  here now,To think of it they always have been there only the flashiness has increased.

I saw “CafĂ© Coffee Day” here, in our time we only had Uday Mistan Bhandar,Punjab Sweet House and Madras Coffee House to go to, I use to simply drool over softy ice creams that were sold at Firayalal’s a landmark in itself .

The uptown Church Complex impressed me. It had outlets of all the leading fashion brands. There were youngsters withdrawing money from the ATM. The imposing Capitol Hill Hotel nearby has come up in a place that was, until a few years ago, barren and nonexistent. last time I remember I use to hang out in this place was with my friends to ogle at girls who use to shy away……This time, the flashy stores and confident-looking jeans-clad young women revealing their navel baffled me.

Bylanes are still the same, well almost! but small cottages and bungalows have started giving way to vertical malls and residential towers…..cars have increased on the roads…….roads that are still the same except wider. A lot has changed.

I met this guy Rajendra (Rajender as we pronounce)…….Rajendra was happy because he has got everything settled in life. His eldest son Ravi is studying MBA in one of those private institutes here. But Ravi was unhappy with the education system in Jharkhand. He said "The session in the Ranchi University is very late. It took me four years to get my bachelor's degree. I could not get admission in Delhi because of that.”He was left with no choice but to take admission in a private institute here.

Like most of his batch mates, he wants to go to Delhi or Bangalore for a job. He said there are very few job opportunities in Jharkhand…..There were few in our time too pushing us out of the meandering experiences of our childhood to find a foothold in large metros…So somethings in life never change.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why blog?

Quite a few of my friends pointed out the mistakes on my blog and I agree to most ..........,Lot of you pointed that the grammer,the punctuation and the spellings were not right......I humbly agree to these and request you all to keep giving feedbacks as I am a little rusted .....To think of it the only writings I have done in last few years are my emails with same mistakes.....the marketing presentations and signing on official documents.......to think of it....not a volume of work that I can boast about........One friend of mine asked why blog??? and to top it all why call it "experiential marketing"?

To answer the first one I dont know, or maybe to say something about things otherwise unsaid...
Why "Experiential Marketing" -----maybe I may add something worthwhile on this some day.... can I effectively blog only time will tell....but I want to blog because

1.I want to Blog
2.I want to read other blogs and comment
3.I want to admit mistkes which otherwise I dont
4.Have a voice
5. but most importantly to make a choice

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Spirit of Mumbai

City of dream never stops amaizing me,The only city where you do not know your neighbour of 10 years living in the same locality but yet you have "Train Friends" a concept which exist only in Mumbai ,Where you do not have time to stop by the roadside and chat with your close friend because both of you are busy...... but paradoxically you will stop to give directions to a complete stranger........

I remember the rains of 26th July 2005 which put a brake to the city which is alien to the meaning of "Stop" at all.....That Day the road outside my rented flat in Mahim was flooded. It was flowing like a river. I waded through, then dragged my feet lest I stumble into a gutter.

I reached the main road leading to Mahim after walking for 2 hours from my Office in South Mumbai... where I saw the spirit of Mumbai and once again I was proud of being a part of this city. The traffic was at a standstill. There was complete chaos but the Mumbai cops were not giving up. They still continued to direct traffic.

There were more people walking on the road than inside cars or buses. Mahim Causeway was flooded. The water level was so high that we could reach out and touch it. But the flood of people walking eclipsed the floods. They were laughing, singing, dancing and no one was complaining.

Strangers on the road helping each other.......Shopkeepers serving buiskits and tea,I saw young men on the streets keeping people away from potholes and gutters. They were dripping wet but looking after strangers.

The rains may have paralysed the city of Mumbai. It had failed to paralyse the spirit of the people. I saw a wine shop crowded.....after all a large "Patiala" does wonders on a rainy day.

Latter, I head that  few people in my Office were stranded in a cab overnight....One of my colleague was saved from being washed away at Andheri Subway....... even today every one in Mumbai has a story to share....stories of their horrific experiences,stories of grif,stories of hardship but most of all stories of grit,determination and compassion.

Another time when the same spirit came to the fore was the horrific day when  11 blasts ripped through our local trains,I was in my conference room at office in a management meeting where the TV is perrinneally in mute ......and I remember one of my VP who was facing the TV loudly  exclaiming that there is a blast on the news....In a jiffy each one of us started checking on our colleagues who were out for meetings and  our family members, I too took time first to locate my Brother and check his safety and than to call my parents  back home to inform them about our safety before the phonelines get jammed with innumurus calls......

While getting back home on a cab .....I saw a family serching for their Son ,apperently the mother was in shock and decided to accompany them to "Sion Hospital"...The family was lucky that their Son was "Hurt" but still alive when we finally located him in Raheja Hospital unlike so many who lost  someone in the family.

That day I saw people helping each other.....assisting each other,consoling strangers.

Next day most of us were back at our stations to get a train back to our "Work", many cynic proclaimed that this was not the "spirit" but sheer helplessness on the part of the people to board train next day to work......would those cynic help explain why did people choose to go to work at all the next day ?........

This is what makes Mumbai the commercial capital of the country. Not the money, but the spirit of its people.........We may not have the best of infrastructure,we may not have the best of wether but we know how to make the "best use" of  whatever we have .....We know how to spend the morning rush hour reading "Newspaper",playing cards and listning to iPods........We know rains will continue and authorities that might be can keep giving reasons for flooding .......Low Lying Areas ,High Tide...etc...etc...we will still wade through knee deep water singing,laughing or just munching on our "Bhuttas"......

Three cheers to the spirit of the city that I love

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Nostalgia of my hometown

It has been almost 10 long years since I cought that fateful train on 11th Aug 1998 from my hometown Ranchi . Then I had a dream in my eyes of making it big in Mumbai,one more to add up to those 1000s,I must say the city of dream was not so kind in the bigining as I had to spend the first night here at the platform....sounds romantic straight out of bollywood script, one more of many thing for which Mumbai is famous for ......

Time changed, I changed and so did the dreams...Mumbai became a karmabhoomi........

On a busy day ,I still try to stop and gaze the skyscrapers and become nostalgic about that naive boy who came here with a dream in his eyes,I become nostalgic of times in 2001 when I started working and was trying to sell Stall space for an Exhibition and in the bargain was insulted by numerous Jwellers and their Watchmen..........I still think of the guy who had to walk the streach from Andheri to Mahim because he did not had a penny in his pocket to eat or pay the bus fare -8 years back Event Management was not such a lucrative carrier that it is today. The I think of those resolve of not returning home a "looser" with shattered dream......each day a fighting chance to get a knuckle hold in the event management industry and trying to be successful.......time passed.....years flew and Mumbai bekoned my dreams.....gave me a home when I was searching for one....gave me hurdles to strengthen my resolve......and gave me hope, when I thought there was none.....Mumbai......My Home & My City.....

The eyes become dreamy once again.....din of the city that I love so much and identify myself with diminishes....and I go back to that naive boy sleeping on the platform,scared of the crowd and lonelyness but dreams in his eyes and resolve in his spirits.