In which Levin Stamm talks about his volunteer experience in a government school in Pune


Hundreds of children in uniform stand on a gravel field in front of a dreary concrete block and sing the Indian national anthem. They are pupils of a public school in the midst of the 7 million metropolia of Pune, three hours’ drive from Mumbai. The morning ritual’s peaceful atmosphere is deceptive. As soon as the students enter the building, loud chaos arises. Despite being named after Maharashtrian resistance fighters, things at the schools rarely go heroically. And the addition of the name “E-learning” refers to some malfunctioning computers and televisions that stand here and there in the classrooms. This is where I spend my days as an overwhelmed teaching assistant.

Meanwhile, inside the building, the daily struggle for attention is raging. Teachers and students seem to bring the chaos from outside into the classrooms. Some teachers speak with threatening voices to their protégés, others have already given up and left the students to their fate. Productive work happens, but productivity is subjective. The reasons are numerous – and run deeper than the dilapidated infrastructure. 

India is young. More than half of the inhabitants of the world’s second-most populous country are under 25 years of age, more than a quarter 14. Of the more than 170 million school-children, more than a third attend a private school, usually the ones who can afford it. A veritable industry has emerged, which sells access to quality education, for a high price. The children at the end of the socio-economic ladder are left behind in a hopelessly underfunded public education system that is still based on the colonial heritage of the British.


English mastery is a prerequisite for professional success in India – the well-paid jobs are only to be found in international corporations. Thus, the public school system is also completely geared to the colonial language: Language of instruction, textbooks, examinations; everything is in English. And yet: the majority of pupils will only have beginner’s knowledge by the end of their compulsory schooling. Half of the fifth graders can’t understand a text for second graders nor are they able to solve a simple subtraction calculation. A look at a typical lesson shows why. The teacher, often only possessing limited English knowledge himself, writes on the blackboard, the pupils copy into their notebooks without understanding the material, let alone analyzing it.

But the state prefers to look away. A teacher recounts how she regularly forges the results of state examinations in order to meet the requirements of the Ministry of Education. She has no other choice – the school would lose its fundings otherwise. And: Due to the focus on English, most students have only a limited command of their own writing system, Devanagari, and thus of India’s official language, Hindi, which means that a large part of India’s cultural heritage is in danger of being forgotten, while the children exit the school system, not properly knowing English or their own language.

If you leave the school area and walk for a few minutes along the main street and its never-ending traffic, you will notice the numerous poor barracks that stand next to luxurious buildings of western corporations. A short distance away is one of the largest high-security prisons in South Asia, whose “shadow casts a gloomy atmosphere over the entire district”, as a teacher at the school says. Most of the students live in this environment of stark contrasts. Most of them live with numerous members of the extended family in the smallest of spaces, without any privacy. No place to study. They look after their younger siblings, while the parents slave away in the wealthy neighborhoods for a pittance. Homework is no longer a priority. 

They talk about violent fathers in a drunken frenzy, the parents’ financial ruin, the death of family members. The family problems weigh heavily on the children’s narrow shoulders, making learning difficult. Faced with the hopelessness of their homes, they often lack confidence in their own abilities and the belief in a better future.

Reflecting on my six months as a teaching assistant in an Indian government school, I believe that my students have actually taught me more than vice versa. Deeply impressed by the enthusiasm of those bright girls and boys – against the odds that make their lives look like an insurmountable mountain of challenges – I have had the opportunity to see the immense latent potential of each of them. Having experienced the amazing work of my Teach For India colleagues, I am inspired to believe that a brighter future for these students is indeed possible. Enabling a system in which this potential can be fostered will take time and hard work – a long struggle, but definitely a worthwhile one.

In which Trupz explores the IDEEP of the Teach for India fellowship 


As RC teachers, we learned the IDEEP practice for teaching kids how to get started with writing. By far this was the toughest ask of being a language teacher. It took a while to get used to the English my kids knew and for me to figure out what needs to be worked on to help us both get started. My kids were innocent little 5th graders studying in a government school in Yerwada, who would just as easily make a mistake between “it” and “eat”, “this” and “these” as well as “sit” and “seat”. We had a long way to go! 


After 10 years of working, in 2018, I had a feeling that I’m not investing in my efforts in the right place. Working in the managing committee of an international digital marketing company, a partner of the company on paper, managing three different teams just didn’t feel good enough. It took a while to come to terms with the fact that I can take a risk and steer my life in another direction. While exploring other alternatives, I was kindly reminded of the Teach for India fellowship, by a dear friend (also known as my husband :-)) and I dove right in. Although my heart was in the right place, landing the fellowship meant I had to do a ton of reflection even before I made an application. This not only helped me answer the questions in the application form but also gave me the clarity to pressing the submit button. A vague IDEA to do something for society, leverage my potential to uplift those around me found my way to the sector I care about the most, education.


I love to learn, given an opportunity, I don’t think I would want to stop, ever! So when fellowship offered a chance to be back at a college campus for a whole 5 weeks, I was excited and petrified. The classrooms and sessions were super fun, but I ached to sleep in my bed. The first few days were tough, early mornings, long hours, learning concepts you’ve never heard before, teaching in summer school, and failing miserably. But the toughest part of it all was, keeping a straight face through it all, continuing to learn. Institute challenged me to explore all dimensions of my emotional and mental strength. It helped me unlearn my biases and become more accepting of myself and others. Of course, it’s not an overnight process and I don’t always get it right, but today I accept myself with my flaws. As we concluded five weeks of Institute, singing, “We are the ones, we are waiting for”, each one of us knew somewhere in our hearts of hearts, a new ‘YOU’ was taking shape.


Equipped with pedagogy, methodology, and the newly acquired title of “didi”, I made my way to my school. There is no training in the world that teaches you to deal with hostility. There is no secret super-power that helps you cope with the feeling of alienation except for the power of love and the power of reason. As a woman, it will be fair to say that I have had to work my way up the ladder to find my place and my voice in life, I had to deal with something similar in the school system. My kids were more considerate than the system. Coming face to face with some of the flaws in the Educational system and feeling completely helpless. I realized that I can’t fight them but only try to fix them with patience and virtue. So I started working on my fellowship, bringing in a more productive line of thought, focussing on things I can change and that led to two memorable events

The Student Council

The Republic Day


Immersing myself into the unpredictability and uncertainty of the outcome was a very conscious choice. In such situations, there is no way to know, just how much is enough. Most of the days, anything I did, didn’t work, sometimes I surprise myself with the most unexpected results. I struggled to find a normal, till I realized there isn’t supposed to be one. I found myself within the most extraordinary situation and if I choose to keep my lens focussed on the ordinary I would learn nothing from the Fellowship. When I was in school, I learned most from being in the student council and participating in sport. If I have to attribute the never give up attitude to anything, it has to be to sports. Teaching as leadership is an important aspect of the Fellowship, it presents you with a unique challenge of being competitive and fair at the same time. It’s a fine balance of biases and beliefs.

We held the investiture ceremony for the student council and a sense of achievement came over me like never before. A realization that it is these small victories that will eventually win us the war. With a house system in place after the student council invested, the school team got the much-needed ecosystem to execute other plans. The whole month of January planned as a culture month on the theme of patriotism leading up to the Republic Day. Every Saturday we held house competitions for poetry recitation, speech, singing, and dancing. It was decided that the winners of each will be performing on Republic Day. PMC teachers paired up with TFI fellows were the house mentors and it was the student leaders who got their teams together, practiced, participated, and led with a sense of belonging and accountability. Competitiveness was in the air and every house gave it their best to win at everything. The school team put their back into making this successful and the result was a student performance to remember. I think we all felt our purpose complete.


Every fellowship story is incomplete without its characters! The school team played a huge role in all aspects of my story. From handling complex emotions to understanding each other’s problems. The weirdest of conversations at tapri, some unforgettable night-outs and birthday celebrations, the joy of finding Delhi-wale Chhole and pani-puri in Pune, and spending 12 hours at TOIT, we did it all. Of course, occasionally, we took the kids for a climate protest march, talked to them about fundamental rights, explained the pre-amble, introduced them to rock music, Winnie the Pooh, The Wizard of Oz, Charlie and the Chocolate factory and Chak De India and even attended the sit-in protest at Pune’s Shaheen Baug. I don’t know if it was the distance or the seriousness of the situation that got to us, but we became closer than ever before during the lockdown. I miss these crazy, funny, determined friends. Each with their own qualities and with a special place in my story.

Ohh yes! The kids, of course. We started with story-writing Fridays and worked in groups. We had fairy tales, jungles, dinosaurs, a village that had to be saved, friends who went on an adventure (inspired by Oz). We even wrote heartfelt letters to friends and parents, expressing gratefulness and love. We even tried our hand at poetry, working on a very simple rhyme scheme. We are not nearly there, where we would like to be, but then we’ve only begun writing our stories!

What this one year of fellowship made me realize that once you‘ve seen the Educational gap, you cannot unsee it. The transformation has humbled me and I am even more grateful for the privileged life I live. When you realize that just your presence can make a difference to someone’s day, you will learn to smile a lot.

When little hands write big words like, “You are the best teacher in the world!”, it makes you try harder and do even better. It changes you as a person forever. 

In which trupz writes 10 blogging tips for newbies and beginners


A few weeks back there was an interesting post on Twitter by @IndiBlogger where they asked to share blogging tips with fellow bloggers.

There is so much content already on this topic and so much new that is being written with every new development in search engines and digital marketing it’s hard to come up with a single tip that would make a difference.

The initiative by Indiblogger got a lot of response from the Twitter community: MyBloggingTips

Learning from my own experiences, I decided to put together my top 10 tips that have helped me get back to blogging. I encountered the world of blogging since 2005, at that time it was more of a personal blog on Blogger (blogspot) which I somehow got bored of due to its limitations in UI and design. Around 2008 I started with my WordPress blog and that’s how the name ‘blawghh” originated. I did write regularly but a full-time job and growing work responsibilities kept me away from blogging for a long time. Finally, in 2018, I got my own domain and here we are today.

Top 10 blogging tips to grow a successful blog for newbies and beginners

Before you start writing a blog, go over these tips and work out your own regimen. By experience, I know that it is very easy to get stagnated and if your intention is earning money from your blog, then you have to treat this as work and be very professional in your approach. There are many enthusiastic folks, who wake up one day and decide “I want to write a blog” and then they directly jump to reading articles about “blogging for money”. What happens is that because you don’t have a clear direction, you end up not fulfilling both your desires of blogging and earning money through blogging. To succeed in blogging and then generating an income from it, I believe that these 10 tips are very crucial. In this post, I have touched upon SEO and digital marketing very briefly, a detailed post on digressing SEO for blogging better left for another day.

So summing up my top 10 blogging tips to grow a successful blog for beginners and newbies:

  1. Define the purpose of your blog
  2. Use tools to get organized
  3. Create a blogging schedule
  4. List down your blog topics
  5. Study Basic SEO
  6. Research about your topic
  7. Keep your language simple
  8. Use visual aids
  9. Understand what your readers like to read
  10. Be interesting, intriguing and informative

One of the reasons why I love blogging is because I get to learn so many new things, like creating this infographic! Do let me know how you liked it and share your own tips as well 🙂

In which trupz talks about lies, rumors, fake news and what you can do about it

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A famous quote goes, “A lie can travel around the world, while the truth is still wearing its shoes!” This quote has such major relevance in today’s time, especially when we have the means to share fake news or (mis)information so easily. If you are one of those people who believe that you never participate in spreading rumors, then you are absolutely wrong. All of us at some point in out lives have done this, may be not intentionally but we have. The fact remains that everyone spreads rumors, now whether it is some sizzling office gossip or a WhatsApp message for a sick child that says if you share the message some company will pay for the treatment, that can be situational!

Have you ever wondered how rumors spread? Rumors have some characteristics, that make them interesting and people get excited about them which why they spread so fast.

2 important characteristics of a rumor

1. A rumor should be informative:

A rumor is usually about something recent that people are interested in. so, if you are able to add more information to what is already true, you’ve just added that desired cherry on the cake.

2. A rumor cannot be verified

This is extremely important, because if the source of the rumor can be verified then point 1 automatically gets nullified. This makes it necessary for whatever (mis)information to have no source to trace it back to.

Now that we have these 2 points clear, lets look at why rumors spread?

4 reasons why rumors spread:

1. Uncertainty:

The explosion of information in the internet age, circular reporting, almost makes it impossible for people to know whether they know everything. Since people find the same information from all the common and well known sources, at times they are intentionally seeking an alternate view which satisfies their uncertainty.

2. Anxiety:

Uncertainty often leads to anxiety. Since we are looking for answers to come to us faster than the speed of light, there is a raging eagerness to know everything right now. People dont have the patience to wait for the right answer, they just need some answer now.

3. Negativity:

Have you ever heard of a positive rumor? A rumor that has been started for the benefit of people? I still haven’t found any such attempt. The intent of widespread of (mis)information or rumors is usually a negative one. They are used for sensationalism, creating a divide with a potential risk of playing with emotional psyche or sentiments of people often religiously motivated these days.

4. Sharing important (mis)information improves social status:

Lets not kid ourselves, we are all vying for those likes, retweets and comments on social media. However, at times we do fail to realize in that bargain of achieving social stardom, you are participating in falsehood of some kind. People do go to extreme length to achieve a social status.

As children, most of us have played the game of “Chinese whispers” and had a good laugh at the end of it. If you have to digest the above points more subtly then let me tell you spreading rumors is nothing different from playing Chinese whispers. Till the time this was all talk it seemed pretty harmless. People would talk behind others peoples backs and everything would seem quiet and hush-hush. The advent of the Internet and social media has now provided a means that now people can read, see and share everything they see and read. The rumor or (mis)information has escalated to the stature of “Fake news” and spreads like wildfire.

5 fake news messages I received on WhatsApp:

1. Indian national anthem declared the best in the world by UNESCO


2. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared best PM by UNESCO (again)


3. New notes of Rs. 2000/- have nano chips inside them which will enable tracking them!


4. WhatsApp to start charging you money to send messages


5. Rare photograph of India Prime Minister as a sweeper


These very popular but false WhatsApp forwards satisfy all the criteria that define a rumor as well the reasons why rumors spread. As long as these Chinese whispers were non verifiable it was fine, but the good part about the Internet is that there are now websites which help identify fake news. More mainstream news websites are joining in to contain the situation and inform the people that these are fake news, just Google any of the above 5 and you can see the result for yourself.

In India, in the last couple of years there have been incidents which were incited due to such rumors or fake news. People lost lives. Angry mobs of people took law and order in their hands. This is not good for any city. state or country. Fake news must be contained. People need to educate themselves and those around them. But the question remains, how do you spot fake news? Here is a very helpful infographic by IFLA that teaches some basic fundamentals of how you can verify news as true or fake


There are no dedicated sites for India that help identify fake news, so here’s a video by Dhruv Rathee that explains how to spot fake news in India

Few steps you can follow before sharing any message you received on social media

  1. Don’t believe everything on social media, Facebook and WhatsApp will not ask you to forward or share anything
  2. Just Google IT: There is sufficient evidence if the news is true or fake, you can tell mostly from the 1st page results if you search some of the key terms of the message.
  3. Check the source. Is the source creditable? If you have doubts simply don’t share or forward
  4. Is the news helpful or positive? Or will it cause more sensationalism? Is it playing on your emotions? This is upon your logical reasoning where you can decide what you do next
  5. Use social media responsibly: Evelyn Hall has said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” It is not necessary for everyone to agree on a subject but it is important for everyone to be tolerant of others opinions, beliefs and sentiments.
  6. Educate yourselves and those around you about spreading, sharing anything without verifying the authenticity.

Do share if you have any more instances when you received fake news on email or WhatsApp in the comments.

Some popular websites that bust fake news worldwide:

  1. Hoax Slayer –
  2. Snopes:
  3. Hoax Fact:
  4. Urban Legend:

In which trupz remembers Pu La Deshpande

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Today started as usual. a quick round-up of the latest news from Alexa while sipping some chai and reading the advertorials in the newspaper. I picked up my phone to check what the latter chatter was on Twitter with Kim Jun Ung and Donald Trump meet up in Singapore, that tweet thread caught my eye. Today, 12th June is the 18th death anniversary of the Pu La Deshpande.

I was immediately taken to my younger years when knew him as the “funny man” in Marathi, and for some reason, my father had loads of tapes of him. It was much much later that I figured out what an icon of Marathi literature he was. Literature, music, acting, orating Pu La Deshpande has many facets to his body of work and one cannot argue that he excelled at all of them.

Many years after my father had passed away, I chanced upon those cassettes and the curiosity to know Pu La Deshpande better led me to read his books. My most favorite of his writings is called “Mhais”. The essay paints a picture of a State transport bus en route to Chiplun in Konkan, Maharashtra and the happenings of the travel journey which are dictated by the ‘Mhais” (buffalo)

The beauty of Pu La Deshpande’s writings is in his unique characterization.  I distinctly remember how he had sketched the “Inspector” from a village arriving 0n the scene in a Jeep etc his mannerisms, how the people would react to the arrival of the Police. The dialogue “Diiiriver kone”, read by Pu La himself in a deep, husky voice has me as one of the people traveling on that bus with all those people. His description of the surrounding and the situation is so vivid that his words make the character and the scene come alive. Another one such essay I absolutely love is “Raosaheb”, or as I like to imagine Raosaheb as a gentle giant, whose innocence and love would melt your heart.

One of the greatest gifts Pu La Deshpande had was the ability to laugh at everyday problems. There was no huge plot or a climax that was revealed at the end, but it was a reassurance that if you take problems not too seriously, they are quite comical and easy to handle. Very few people have this talent, I believe through Pu La Deshpande’s works he intended to pass this on to his audiences.

Years later, when YouTube arrived, I was hooked to watching Pu La Deshpande’s ‘kathakathan’, an equivalent of stand up comedy in those days. The only difference being it was apolitical, devoid of using any expletives with clean content. The audiences also I believe were much tolerant, one of his humorous essays “Mumbaikar, Punekar Ka Nagpurkar?” I’m sure would have rubbed off otherwise in today’s day and age. I’m sure though that if someone would have protested to his views, Pu La would’ve converted that also into some more writing.

While I am writing this, I am listening to “Mi ani mazha shtrupaksha” and am left wondering what Pu La Deshpande would’ve written about the world today? In his birth centenary year, it only seems apt that a biopic commemorating his life is being made by Mahesh Majrekar. One can only hope that he does justice to the marvel that is Pu La Deshpande.

 Pu La Deshpande books and other works I have read: 

  • Marathi Vangmayacha (Galeev) Itihas (मराठी वाङ्‌मयाचा (गाळीव) इतिहास) 
  • Hasavnuk (हसवणूक)
  • Batatyachi Chaal (बटाट्याची चाळ)
  • Khilli (खिल्ली)
  • UralSural (उरलंसुरलं)
  • Purchundi (पुरचुंडी)
  • Vyakti Ani Valli (व्यक्ती आणि वल्ली)
  • Batatyachi Chaal (बटाट्याची चाळ) 
  • Asa Mi Asami (असा मी असामी)
  • Varyawarachi Varaat (वा-यावरची वरात)
  • Ti Fulrani (ती फुलराणी) based on Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

Pu La Deshpande: Raosaheb

Pu La Deshpande: Mhais

Pu La Deshpande: Mumbaikar, Punekar ka Nagpurkar?


Here is also a brilliant Marathi blog “Pu La Prem

In which Trupz reviews An EPIC account of Ramayana

Ramayana of Valmiki

This post is a Ramayana story summary of the epic account of Ramayana. The original author of this epic is Maharishi Valmiki, for the purpose of this blog post we are using the translated version by Ralph T. H. Griffith. The Ramayana story summary is dated during the Treta Yuga. There are now multiple interpretations of the book that are available that are ranging from Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas to a more modern take on it by various authors.  Those of you who know the characters and plot well, you may jump directly to the Critique

Ramayana story summary: The Characters

Dashratha – King of Ayodhya, husband of Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra, father of Rama, Bharatha, Lakshmana and Shatrughna

Kaushalya – Eldest wife of Dashratha and mother of Prince Rama

Kaikeyi – 2nd wife of Dashratha and mother of Bharata

Sumitra – youngest wife of Dashratha and mother of Lakshmana and Shatrughna

Prince Rama  – Eldest son of Dashratha, main protagonist

Sita – daughter of Janaka, king of Mithila – she is found by him in a hole, wife of Prince Rama

Lakshmana – younger brother of Rama, faithful follower and companion throughout the account

Bharata – younger brother of Rama, mother Kaikeyi’s tricky ways makes him eligible to be King of Ayodhya, but his righteousness gets the better of her jealousy and he remains a loyal first in command till the rightful heir Rama returns to his throne

Shatrughna – youngest brother of Rama

Shurpanakha – Rakshasi, sister of Ravana – the Lanka king

Sugriva – leader of the monkeys

Ravana – King of Lanka

Hanumana – a disciple of Rama, his follower and co- warrior

 Ramayana story summary: The Plot

Ramayana story in Hindi is a story told in poem form, by memory (Smruti) about an Indian prince Rama, who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and his presence on earth in human form was as the prince of Ayodhya. This story revolves around him, his exile from his kingdom, his survival with his wife Sita, and brother Lakshmana in the forests. The core of the account starts with Ravana, the Lanka king treacherously kidnapping Sita. This is because the Rakshasi Shurpanakha, who is Ravanas sister is luring the two brothers, her attempts do not heed and she tries to kill them. Lakshmana in rage cuts off her nose and ears. Rama’s search for his beloved leads him to Kishkinda, where he meets his trusted disciple Hanumana. Together with him, Sugriva and their army of ape soldiers they march to the Lankan lands, literally walking over the sea to recover Sita. A gruesome battle is fought, Ravana succumbs and our conqueror returns home victorious.

 Ramayana story summary: The Critique

The Ramayana story summary combines all human attributes all engulfed in a single life, there is jealousy, there is drama, politics, there is love, there is devotion, suffering, war and killing, victory and elation, a bit of science fiction too (monkey people – anyone say Planet of the Apes, in Valmiki times) and modern architecture (built a bridge over water with floating rocks). They have also figured out complex genetics here since the King Dashratha as the story opens has been childless for several years, but after a  ‘Putra – kameshti Yagya’ and he has 4 sons!! Valmiki, one may concede was well aware of the subtleties of human tendencies and their implications. The temptations we give into, the emotional ball game and how women use it to their advantage, the power game and how one can yield it to manipulate people. In the entire account, there is mention of how those who were eligible for the position of power were tricked by those close to them, whether it was Rama, Sugriva or one can even argue Ravana, he banished his brother Vibhishana since he opposed the kidnapping of pious Sita.

The Ramayana story summary has Rama the protagonist is the most complex character – he follows the path of ‘dharma’ which means doing the right thing no matter what the consequences are. When his parents ask him to relinquish the throne, he does so to maintain the respect of elders. When he sees someone doing wrong, he gives them an opportunity to recover but if they do not, he does not hesitate from even killing them for their deed. For the ones who are closest to him and his most loyal followers, he is willing to go to any extent to protect them. His love for Sita is so true, that he overcame all adversities and arduous circumstances to recover her, but his trust in her was as blind as the God of Justice, he abstained her as a wife for lack of evidence to prove her sanctity for the time she spent as Ravana’s captive.

The character of Sita is most intriguing, she is found by Janaka, and considered daughter of Mother Earth, her eventual end also is defined as she succumbs into the Earth. She is brought up a warrior princess, pious and revered she follows her husband’s footsteps as he leads her into exile, giving up her princely possessions and living a hand to mouth existence. Even when she is kidnapped she does not give in to her temptations and remains a one man woman, yet her fidelity is challenged by society but she vehemently stands up to their questions, after being exiled by her own husband she raised 2 sons on her own. It could be argued that she started the concept of single motherhood back then.

There is every reason for this work to be an EPIC as it is rightly termed so – Valmiki has encapsulated human qualities so vividly in the text, that every man walking face of the Earth is a Rama, or some shade of his, personifying his qualities as a son, a brother, a ruler, a warrior, a lover and a husband and above all as human. His depiction of society and system in those Treta Yuga times are so relevant even now. We still depend on hero worship, we still want someone else to fight our battles, and we still believe that it will be someone else’s good deeds and sacrifices that will bring peace and harmony to our lives. We still believe (some of us do) it will take God in human form to resolve all evils and vices of the universe while we can only wait and watch for him to appear. Valmiki in his works has expressed the detailed outline of hurt, anger, pain, and suffering of Rama’s life, yet we look at it and seek to get inspiration from this. Had he psychoanalyzed our race to be such that feeds on the deplorable situation of others? I have often wondered how many actually empathize with the character of Rama? For all that he has endeared throughout this entire account of events has been full of deceit, mistrust, suffering, and loneliness to some extent. What was the Ramayana then – a glorified account of a family dispute, co-scripted with love, war, and separation? The best thing about Valmiki’s Ramayana is that it his only work, which has revolved around many human generations and there are many unanswered questions about it, many theories and speculations circulate it. There are the staunch believers and the ardent atheists, but there are few such novellas in the history of mankind to have generated such interest and for that, he does deserve a Nobel!!

Note – the satire in the critique is not intended to offend anyone’s personal or religious views. 

In which Musical Weekend Part 2 – Pune Wine Tasting and Bacardi NH7

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After revving up last Friday night in some Hindustani Classical Music, the line up on Saturday was even more interesting. I had been observing my twitter timeline being tagged with “#NH7” for whole of last week. It was only after I saw the advert on TV I could correlate, and it was impossible to believe that such an event is to be held in Pune!!!! That to in Koregaon Park, i mean give me a break ….! Plans were on for saturday afternoon, the girls and I were to attend the Pune Wine Tasting Festival, which was held in Koregaon Park again, yeah baby, KP was hot and happening for 11/12th December.

The line up for Wine tasting was great and who would not like to spend wintry Saturday in green lawns sipping on some of the best wines available. I usually like White wine and stuck to Sauvignon Blanc, Jacob’s Creek being one of my favorite. Though I was surprisingly addicted to Chenin from Vinsura and healthy variety Biowine which contains Ayurvedic hebs and tastes awesome, although some may think of it as typical medicine, but one has to acquire taste for wine. Poonam (_alps) as she is better known, Prutha and myself had decided to meet up for this event. It was a fine afternoon, when we reached the venue the atmosphere was in equally great spirits!!! I was meeting Poonam for first time and we had a lot of catching up to do :).

Prutha at the Grape Stomping

The grape stomping was the highlight of the evening, and organisers invited the guests to partake in this fun activity, although it was tempting I preferred to get the grape juice only in my stomach and not on my clothes. lots of chatting and sipping, _alps and I, finally called it a day as I was to go for the NH7 event later in the night. Now whoever said Pune is a laid back and boring city, was surely not at these places in December 2010!!

As the weekend approached, the buzz of NH7 was almost becoming a scream on twitter, one such was mine also which was heard by @dhempe and he managed to get me passes for both days…woooot, unexpected this was. So flushed from the wines I made it to NH7 venue, where 2 guest passes were promptly waiting for me. The highlights of this event for me were the performances by Indian Ocean and the Raghu Dixit Project. I enjoy music tremendously for them both. Indian Ocean I had watched them at Mood I in IIT Mumbai when Kandisa was just released and it was a rage. Seeing them again after almost 8 years was a resurrection. Before them was a fusion band lead by Susheela Raman, who played some kick ass numbers never heard before and although she sang in Tamil, it was superb fusion. Rise it higher and Mamavatu, I hope I got the names correct were mindblowing.

Indian Ocean
The most awaited band and aptly the close of event at the Dewarists stage were Indian Ocean, in between the change of bands after Susheela Raman finished on the Black Rock Stage we also got a slight glimpse of Raghu Dixit and what was on offer from them next day. Public demand asked for Hey Bhagwan and they did not disappoint, with a promise that closing on NH7 on Sunday will be a rocking one. Indian Ocean did not waste any time and had the crowds tapping their toes and then jumping around almost as soon as they started, Bandeh, their infamous song from Black Friday putting everyone in a trance. Going on to “Maa Reva” and some more songs from their soon to release album, the band ended on the all time favorite Kandisa, the song which plummeted them to glory.

Magic Numbers
On Sunday, I missed the band Swarathma, they are quite hot on the music scene now, and very highly recommended by a music buddy of mine. Rock bands like Midival Punditz and Asian Dub Foundation were to playing on the Eristoff Arena, but I chose to stick to Dewarist’s stage as the atmosphere was good and so was the crowd. Reached early before Raghu Dixit was to be on, to catch the closing of Magic Numbers, an alternate rock band from UK. They 2 pairs of brother sister duo and one of the sisters on the electric guitar was literally smoking it. We have often heard of Indian bands travelling abroad to phoren lands and getting appreciated there, this is what exactly happened to magic Numbers also. I was surprised to see an evolved audience and people who had hear them before. The band members announced that it was the best concerts ever at which they have played and great audience too, flattered yes but he was just being too modest.

Raghu Dixit
The most awaited gig of the evening was Raghu Dixit project, having seen a a dekko of them the previous evening, it was but the most appropriate close to the mind blowing weekend that NH7 had become. RDP came with their kitty full, and didnt waste any time in gearing up the audience with their most popular tracks, “Hey Bhagwan”, “Ambar”, “Mysore se Aayi”, “Gudugudiya Sedi Nodo” . They did have the new song about Mumbai too, but seems like will take some time to grow on me. My favorite among this list were Amber, Hey Bhagwan till i saw their Electronic Violin player who went like crazy when they sang “Mysore Se Aayi”. It was a fast paced 60minutes and not one boring moment throughout. Vishal Dadlani too joined in the crowd and Raghu made sure he acknowledged him in the crowd and thanked him for giving their folksy band a chance to bring out from the pandals to world stages, you will be surprised to know that RDP is 2nd most downloaded artists on ITunes in World Music Arena.

Overall the NH7 was superbly managed, the sound was world class and the stages was nothing like i have ever seen before, matching all norms of international standards. Each and every artist mentioned the hospitality and the arrangements that were made for them as awesome. We know that when going to a concert you dont want to be bogged down by lack of infrastructure and technical glitches, to keep an audience happy you simply need great music as promised and you bet this event lived up to its reputation. With a promise of being back again soon, the Dewarists arena at NH7 brought its curtains down and Pune witnessed a history in making.

In which Trupz decided to speak up and speak out

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This post was selected for Tangy Tuesday pick on BlogAdda



This post was selected for the Tangy Tuesday picks on Blogadda

A freak of incidence and I ended up taking the PMT bus from Warje to Pune station via Swargate (just like most other buses this one too had a number plate illegible to the naked eye). Loaded with 3 bags (my laptop sack, a purse and an extra cloth bag – more on why i was carrying so much in next Blawghh post) I climbed into the bus which was more brown than the “laal dabba” (red box) all thanks to the continuous rains.I had got in at the very first stop and was much disheartened to see almost all the bus full. Also given the Sunday afternoon I was sure the frequency of buses was poor and it didnt make sense to wait for the next one.

I spotted a lone empty seat, was just making my way towards it when an atrocious man who had no shame whatsoever, jostled and made way to it before me!!!! Forget about chauvinism, the dude didn’t even to say Sorry or for that matter give me a second look. Little did I know it was actually a Run for the Seat. I didn’t want to spoil my taste for the day after the awesome lunch and  kept mum.

I turned around and saw that there were 2 more seats “Reserved for Ladies” occupied by these dudes ( looks like Warje is a place filled up with “DUDES”). SO politely and as nicely as I could have asked i said to the 60 year old pair of dudes occupying the first seat.”Excuse me, this is a ladies seat” – yes of course I said this in Marathi, “ही लेडीस सीट आहे“, confused and out of sorts as if he had committed a sin, he apologized and said that he didn’t know, as he could not read and no one else bothered to tell him, he sat there with his partially hearing impaired friend. Now, this duo was carrying some huge parcels wrapped up in a cloth, we would usually call them “बोचकी“:colloquially. Considering the crowd in the bus already,these elderly and physically challenged  folk standing in the aisle would have been a worse inconvenience to everyone than me with the 3 bags.

So I asked them to sit tight, and cursing my bad luck I looked at my 2 victims (i reveal that these guys suffered exact 2 minutes later), and said, “”ही पण लेडीस सीट आहे“” (this is also a reserved seat for the ladies and push off really, i mean really cant you read, that is what my brain was ranting) – I got an extremely unconcerned look back from one and  the other pretended not to hear me at all. Just as i was about to repeat myself, another lady passenger came in and approached this same duo with same request as mine and received a similar response back. Now i was pissed, may be it was time to take off the Sunday attire and show these guys some real punch. You can almost imagine what followed for next 6 – 8 minutes was a verbal battle that was filled with language that was difficult to decipher for both dudes, with me and my partner in rhyme (lets call her lady in pink) lashing at them in English, cursing them down for having no Education and behaving like illiterates (come on they could not read ” for ladies ” – “महिलांसाठी”), having no decency to talk and behave with women and largely for citing examples of how they abuse/insult women everyday they travel in “शिटी” buses from their locality ( i.e they occupy such seats and apparently no “ladij pyassenger” has ever complained or raised a voice) and get away with it.

The tempo of this EPIC word fight reached its height, when for some reason, me dressed in jeans and a T-shirt was much an issue for this one goon, since he went to the extent of passing a lewd comment like “when you are dressed as a man, why are you asking for a ladies seat!!”

Now was the time for the Mumbaite in me to step out, and give this guy a piece of my mind. For those who know me well, and are well aware of my vocabulary skills in all three, English, Marathi and Mumbaiya, you can imagine the dialog; with me using up all of everything i know in the abuse department and creating some new ones during a very heated and one sided conversation. For those of you who don’t know me, tickle yourself,think what you would have done if in my shoes (especially if you have been there before). After about 3 minutes of verbal lashing (it would have been a physical one – with my right hand imprint on his cheek but thank god i was carrying the cloth bag with it) that included the mention of, brains, bones and teeth and lots of comparisons with poultry and farm animals, insects and birds, another slightly older man approached me and said , “बाई माणसान अस बोलू नाय!!” (it is not good for women folk to speak like this (loosely translated)), to which i politely asked him to Shut up, if he can’t help.

I yelled out at the other passengers for being by standers, and acting as though it was not their problem, how they like being extras in a movie, to the other women who sat in reserved seats(there are 5 such seats in every bus) for not supporting female passengers and informing other passengers to sit else where, to the conductor especially,as he kept printing tickets all this while at the far end of the bus – refusing to interfere and check out what the ruckus was. And mind you all this while the bus was halted. I demanded to see the conductor, and by now surprisingly a lot of other passengers (who suddenly found their lost b&||$ and sanity got up and asked the rioting goons to vacate the seat. The lady in pink, by now managed to drag the conductor forward and threatened to report him if those 2 goons were not thrown out immediately. There was a huge opposition from them but eventually the chaos and noise was alarming and the driver stepped in, he told the 2 goons to step out of the bus if they were not going to be quiet and as per the rules, only female passengers should occupy the seats in question, otherwise they can find themselves place in next bus for the same route which was right behind. I thanked god for sending in this driver because with all that high pitch screaming my larynx was about to burst. Much against their liking the duo stepped out, giving me the “LOOKS” and finally the bus moved.

This was about 5 hours ago and I am still not very proud of my actions, the aftershock of going through such a vociferous and stooping-down-zillion-levels-of-tolerance and conduct to duel with some random person is shuddering. The nerve on my forehead was ticking like a bomb and my heart was panting so loud that I could not hear the grinding sounds of the bus. Many questions came to my mind, as to why this situation came up, was I wrong anywhere? Was the guy who pushed me away to race for the seat correct? Was i incorrect at letting the elderly man take up the first seat, considering his age and baggage or was i wrong at taking on the second pair? Apart from learning a few new Marathi cuss words I realized what the mentality of some men folk is like, especially those who are “supposedly” illiterate (naturally they cant read) and devoid of any reason. A simple seat in the bus, common decency in addressing women and a basic civic sense was lacking in them. They had no fear of rules, of authority and if people (other passengers in the bus) would have remained oblivious to their actions they would have got away with their misbehavior. On top of this, there was this other DUDE, who was more concerned about my demeanor than that of the goons and expected that i should be quiet ??

I was not upset that I would have to stand with 3 bags to carry, their attitude towards Women in particular, the arrogance and the pride in being the way they were, ticked me off. In the end I did no wrong, I voiced against injustice, big or small, I made a point very clear that unlike many other “ladij” they encountered and oppressed, I refuse to be party to that. Whether by choice or force or by pressure LAW has to be enforced and RULES must be followed. I don’t know what lesson those goons took away from this, but out of some of the things i learnt, such parasites in society have to be outnumbered by the anti bodies like me: it is important to let people know you need their help, in my case the passengers heeded; may be in a small number but that is all I wanted!! That is all it took to scare off the goons. Sometimes people don’t have the courage to rebel for fear of being left alone, but once they know the numbers are growing and more people supporting, they will join in. Secondly the more you let someone get away with a miscreancy, the more you encourage it and increase the chances of them repeating it again So don’t be afraid to speak up and speak out.

A complaint was lodged by me against the conductor who did not step in and take necessary action, it is too shameful to quote here the reason for his abstinence.

In which trupz writesAn ODE to MJ


Ill Be there YouTube video Slow dancing on the tunes of “I’ll be there”, feeling every word of the song…. This has been my favorite song for ever since I can remember. All I had was this cassette with some mixed tracks of Billy Joel, Culture Club and this one by Jackson 5. With no […]

In which trupz writes I – the awakening

One of my favorite writings, fueled with emotions and a keen sense of achievement. I came up with this verse on the eve of my graduation. For the first time ever in my adult life an accomplishment that raided my head, these are a few lines I hold very close to my heart.


I- the awakening
I am the mountain I am the sea
I am the wind and I am free
I am the sun burning and hot
I am not a coward that’s what I am not!
I am the bird soaring the sky
I am the jet plane flying high
I am the star shining and bright
I am David with Goliath’s might
I am the moon with its craters
I am good but I can be better
I am thankful for your nicety
I am not cold hearted if I don’t show pity
I am what I am; it is what I choose to be
I am not bothered about what others see
I am sporting if you are too
I am forgiving, so forgive me too
I am as frank as can be
I am sorry but that’s just ME!
– Trupti, May 22nd 2003