Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Southern Surprise!

South India. The only Indian region I hadn’t ventured into. Yet when the Law School was forced into an early winter break (thanks to a pox scare), we were pushed into preponing our visit to Chennai, a place we had identified as our first destination for researching on WTO and Agricultural Subsidies, an area around which our moot court problem revolves.

Very soon, I found myself on a Vishakapatnam (Vizag) bound train. We (myself and S. Roy, my teammate) reached the port city on the morning of 4th November and discovered much to our dismay that our connecting train to Chennai had been cancelled owing to the heavy rains there. Rest of our time in this beautiful city was spent in visiting the various travel operators in hope of finding a bus to Chennai. Everything was packed.

The Vizag Station

It was only when I contacted one of my uncle’s friend who stays in Vizag that we finally got our train tickets done till a place called Vijayawada, which also happens to be one the largest railway junctions in the country. Another pointer to the value of having ‘Contacts’ in India.

On the train to Vijayawada...unaware of what lied ahead!

We left Vizag around 4: 30 PM. Owing to a train accident that had taken place a few days back, the train was to travel on a diverted route and was to take longer time than usual. Now Vijaywada was supposed to arrive at half past midnight. Roy was fast asleep around 11:30 PM hoping I would wake him up once the station comes. The morning exercise of visiting one travel operator after another had really drained a lot out of us. As I closed my eyes around quarter to twelve, hoping I wouldn’t doze off, the inevitable actually happened.

When I looked at my watch at around ten past one and found the train moving at a very high speed, a hundred things crossed my mind. Had I missed the station? No! How could that happen to me? We didn’t even have reservation from Vijayawada onwards.

Still sleepy, I shake Roy up and inform him about the farce. He is too sleepy to fathom the gravity of the situation. Soon, both of us drag our entire luggage to the compartment door and frantically wait for the next station. The train seems to pick up more and more speed even as we expect it to stop. It’s around 2:00 AM and the train shows no signs of stopping anywhere. For a moment we mull over the possibility of continuing with the journey, reach Hyderabad and take things from there on. But without tickets, that could be a huge risk. I go looking for the Ticket Checker in the adjacent compartments as the train rips through the silence of the night. I find him fast asleep and muster the courage to wake him and tell about what happened. He introduces me to another gentleman and informs that even he is on the same boat. He asks me to get down at Khammam, the next station.

Finally, the train slows down and halts at Khammam around 2:30 A.M.When we get out of the train, the sight of at least five more persons from our train who were supposed to get down at Vijaywada but now stand stranded in the middle of this vacant station releases me of all the edginess. We rush to the ticket couter and buy two General Compartment tickets to Vijayawada.Soon, we find ourselves sitting near the door of the General Compartment on a Vijaywada bound train. Last time, the sleep betrayed us. This time, we betray it. Or at least try doing that.

Very soon, we find ourselves on yet another train. It’s the Vijaywada-Chennai Godavari Express. The train starts at 6:00 AM and is scheduled to reach Chennai around 1 O’clock. The beautiful sights of morning keeps me awake till the after effects of the previous night’s sleepless journey forces me into a slumber.

The Sunrise from the Godavari Express.

A shot from my professional camera...ahm...ahm!

Ravages of Rain!

Around 1:30 PM, as we enter Chennai, the appalling sights of water logged roads and fields prepare us for what lies ahead. As we get down from the train, the noisome smells of the inundated city keeps me scatterbrained till I come out of the station.

Much to our disappointment, we find that Prof. Shanthakumar from the Law School, who belongs to Chennai and was supposed to help us in our research, has not yet reached Chennai as even his train got cancelled. And certainly, we could not expect him to be as adventurous as we were.

Hari (Roy's friend who stays in Chennai) takes us to the Ambedkar Law College (which happens to be his own College) to meet Prof. Manohar, a person Prof. Shanthakumar had referred us to. It is here we meet Adarsh, another member of our team who had reached Chennai few hours before us. Prof. Manohar tries his best to arrange for our accommodation at the various youth hostels but to no avail.

We stay in Chennai for three days. We roam around in the rain. We get wet almost every time we step out. We visit few institutes. We find no resources whatsoever. Blame it to the lack of planning. Blame it to the weather.

Adarsh and Roy busy researching?

Some more!

Had Hari not taken care of our accommodation, we could have been forced into squandering a hell lot of money for nothing.

The best part of our stay in Chennai!

The Marina Beach!

Would you believe its 4 in the afternoon?

We leave Chennai on the night of 7th November, empty handed. The Bangalore bound bus proves to be the final test of my patience as ‘BUGS’ feast on my blood right through the journey. It was like Chennai’s last kick on my already beaten up rump.

Hari's car was 'smooched' by a lorry as he carried us around! Arguing with the driver as Adarsh and Roy(foreground) wait helplessly.

We reach Bangalore early next morning hoping that the National Law School wouldn’t be as disappointing. But after the Chennai experience, we must expect the unexpected.

To know about what happened in Bangalore, do keep an eye here. My postponed exams [thanks again to the ‘Chicken Pox Break’(CPB)] start from December 1st and it’s high time that I catch up with my studies. Adios.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Tommy [12-03-1993 to 1-09-2005]

Thank you for all the joy you brought to our lives...

The Wanderer Returns!

Metamorphosis would not be a proper word for the change that has taken place. Nevertheless, the last three months of my life have still been unprecedented.

To start with, I am still trying to decipher the pros and cons of my parents becoming NRI’s after them having moved to the Sultanate of Oman in July this year.

Again, getting a third last rank in the list of mooters selected for representing the Law School came as huge disappointment. After having received commendations from a judge of the Federal Court of Australia among others, this depreciation certainly hurt. However, the above helped me realize that I had developed an extremely informal style and formality is inextricably linked to success in the Indian moots. In spite of the debacle, I could still form a formidable team thanks to the trust Sudhanshu, my team mate and by far the best student at HNLU [btw…I am not far behind ;) ] had in me. Now it’s Sudhanshu, Adarsh and me for the team which would represent HNLU at the WTO Moot. God willing, we’ll do well.

Tiger Conservation had always been an issue very close to my heart. My parents by making us (me and bro) visit the Bandhavgarh National Park (in M.P…has the highest density of Tigers in India) a legion of times while we were growing up, inculcated in us a strong sense of attachment to the forests and wildlife. The Environmental Law course this semester has equipped me with enough understanding to try and come out with a paper on Tiger Conservation. God willing, I’ll keep the promise. I thank Queenie, my friend at the University of Hong Kong for her encouragement.

The Environmental Law course, by far the most interesting course of the semester saw me indulging in an unprecedented task yet again. The visionary course teacher after having decided to hold a national symposium on Environmental Impact Assessment, hand picked some of us and entrusted us with the task of preparing a background material for the symposium. The 150 page book is now ready for publication and would see the light of the day this Saturday. God willing, the conference would be a success.

The end semester examinations start in 20 days from now. Time to gear up for the showdown!

November would see my team scanning through the libraries of some of the best institutions at Delhi, Chennai, and Bangalore for our research for the WTO moot. Will keep you posted.

I am proud to announce that two of my very close pals from school, Steve and Bhavin have jobs now...Steve at Infosys and Bhavin at L&T...Way to go guys!!!

P.S.- Patrons who have started visiting my blog lately may find the depiction my journeys through Australia and Bangladesh interesting...(See the Archives).

Monday, July 11, 2005

Another Kickoff...

Late Hidayatullah's specter, which I suppose perambulates in the British styled alleys of HNLU would have finally let out a sigh of relief. After a semester of chaos, the appointment of the new Vice Chancellor must have come as a catharsis. The inaugural function saw the Chief Justice and the Law Minister inspiriting the old band and the new gang with heart-stirring and stimulating words. The gathering lasted for about an hour as starry eyed freshers and glassy eyed seniors looked on from their seats. As a new regime takes over, I promise to keep you posted with the continuity within the change and the change within the continuity.

One Bovee has said,"The light in the world comes principally from two sources,the sun, and the student's lamp." Let's see if we contribute.God bless HNLU!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Tale of an Awestruck Intern

Bombay, the most crowded, crammed, and humid of places one could have chosen for an internship. Yet on that warm April morning just before the crack of dawn, when I glanced at my reflection on the rearview mirror, even in that shadowed taxi, I could see eyes that shone like stars at twilight. I am sure that they owed their glint as much to the tender reminiscent light in my eyes as to the dazzling streetlights. I had spent enough time in the city before, for memories to have not flashed by as I swayed and bounced in my taxi seat. The motel I was supposed to stay in wasn’t far enough from the train station for those reflections to have lasted. Very soon, I found myself in a cozy little room, waiting for the first light and its daily companion, the newspaper.

A tabloid known for churning out the city's gossip has a huge classifieds section for wanderers like me to hunt out a decent paying guest accommodation. For the next four days, going through that section and calling up the various Patils and Patels it referred one to, was the only job I had besides eating and sleeping. One such agent led me to an Anglo-Indian locality in Mahim, a place famous for its fishermen and of course, as I was to discern later, its noisome smell. So, on that sweaty afternoon, as I treaded upon those wooden stairs, a preconception of the place was already in place while those thumps echoed in that murky stairway. A faint light led me to a door on the third floor, and just as I was about to ring the bell, those thumps resonated once again. Soon, a pretty girl, late in her teens emerged from the staircase and finding me in front of her flat, asked in a commanding tone, "Yes, can I help you?" I shot back while gazing at her dreamily bright eyes, "Are you looking for a paying guest?" She nodded in affirmation and led me into that abandoned room of their flat which must have borne with a host of strangers in eighty years of its sociable existence. The girl informed me that her mother was out and I could always come back for finalizing the deal. Thus, yet again I was breathing in the sunless air of that forsaken stairway. As I descended in that darkness, the fear of falling into the unholy depths of some pit below persisted till I came out in the sunlight. There was nothing wrong with the place as such. But the mere thought of dealing with that stairway at 10 o'clock in the night sent several chills down my twenty year old spine and kept me from going back again.

Meanwhile, my internship under one of the better known criminal lawyers of the city was already underway. The simplicity of his chambers reflected that of his own. His juniors and staff carried themselves with similar subtlety even as his aura took over the chambers and its occupants during his presence there. This humble ambience hardly spoke about the high profile clients it witnessed every day. For the first few days, I accompanied him to the Courts in his black sedan. But during those drives to downtown Bombay, the silence that prevailed inside that remarkably noiseless sedan, while saffron rays of sunlight filtered through the window on my side, had an overwhelming effect that left me voiceless even after getting off. Very soon, I was traveling with his juniors and even alone.

By then, I had found myself a comfortable accommodation in a cordial Maharashtrian home at Shivaji Park, a peaceful neighbourhood of this blaring metropolis. For the inhabitants, the huge treeless park at the centre of the locality was an oasis of calm away from the city bustle. Under the shadow of those ancient trees on the sidewalk that ran along the park, walked the health cautious and the love struck. And when a fleeting visitor treaded on that path, his dodging skills were put to test while hawkers and stray dogs looked on from the edges.

The High Court, which stands facing the Arabian Sea, must have at some point in time epitomized the pride and glory of the British Administration that was behind its making. But today, one can barely see it from the famous Fountain square, owing to a state of the art building belonging to one of the prominent banks of the world that stands in between. Our judicial system and the Indian Administrative Services are among the notable legacies, the British left behind. While the former still functions from ancient buildings at the erstwhile Presidency towns like Bombay, the latter has gone on to become the pinnacle of middle class aspirations. Most of my days were spent in panting up and down this archaic building while observing the proceedings our chambers got involved in. As I strolled in its crowded corridors, while uncertain puffs of wind rose into a steady blow and fluttered the gowns of the lawyers who walked along, inspiration was all I ever drew.

The evenings were spent in leafing through the bulky briefs that adorned those crammed shelves in our chambers. While I stayed sunk in those papers, and absorbed drafting skills, the juniors remained engaged in their daily slog and the chief in his marathon meetings. By the time I headed for home, the brisk walk of the morning was reduced to a sluggish stagger even as the amber light steadily flashed at the traffic signals. If a late night shower was a thing I was getting used to, then girdling the world in print at 12 o’clock in the night was certainly a new routine.

Sunday came like a catharsis. It signified my liberation from the mundane. Not even one could pass by without the Regal theatre’s rear stalls having me in time for the matinee show. The movie was time and again followed by a flavourful meal at Baghdadi's near the Taj Hotel. So when I headed back in the evening, the reflections on the movie watched, the cuisine tasted and the crowd observed produced a heady mix of thoughts that lasted till I got off at the bus stop.

Those two months in Bombay had passed quite swiftly. One never realized when the scorching summer gave way to the showery monsoon and the humidity succumbed to the drizzle. So on that overcast evening, while heading back to the chambers on my last day at work, as the black sedan sped up the Marine Drive and as I stared at the Arabian Sea, words like 'power', 'money', 'fame', 'Bombay' and 'practice' did several rounds of my head and conjured up a very rosy picture. But as the raindrops trickled down the windshield, I realized that the owner of that sedan had put in more years of practice than I had invested in living. So by the time I got off the car, my thoughts had already trailed off. Nevertheless, the strong gusts of wind still had a taste of rain in them and more importantly, those eyes were still starry.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Leaving Bombay...

Got done with my internship yesterday.Will come out with a piece on it very soon.Am leaving for home in the evening.Take care guys...

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A thanksgiving...

There are a lot of people I need to thank before it's too late...Friends, thanks for your love and support right through the effort. Words fail me to thank you all...here are some names, which deserve a special mention:

Hoysala, Rachit, Anuraag , Arya, Aparna, Kunal ,Varsha, Shagun, Iti, Kriti, Jassi, Anubha, Rao, Gaurav, Sherin, Siddharth, Nikhil, Mahita, Rajveer, Kundan, Dadhich, Arvind, Neil, Adarsh, Roy, Amit Shankar, Bikramaditya and Apoorv..Thank you all for bearing with me...I owe all my experiences to your good wishes...Even you all know that I have been lucky...Please don't think that I am being flamboyant but the truth remains that 'the harder you work, the luckier you get.' Right?

Thanks Chhotu, Monal, and Sonu...Thanks Rana da and Tinku da.

Thanks Bhavin, Shantanu, Anshu and Patel.

Among others, I must thank Dr.Sivakumar (who also happened to be the coach...not per se actually but still...), Mr.Shanthakumar, Dr. Maheshwar Singh, Mr.Uday Shankar, the authorities and staff at the Law School.

I thank the State Govt. of Chhattisgarh. Without their financial support, this could have never been possible.

Thanks Dr.McDonald, Dr.Fitzgerald, Queenie, Ira, Adiba, Chris, Vincent, Lydia and all other mooters and researchers...After all, fixitmartsucks.com didn't actually suck. Did it?(Others...to know more about the moot problem which involved domain name disputes, check out the QUT website at http://www.law.qut.edu.au/about/moots/lawasia/...The moots were regulated by the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Thanks Steve...you write extremely well and have always inspired.

I thank all my uncles, aunts and cousins for all the blessings.

Lastly, I thank God for bestowing me with such wonderful parents.

I dedicate this blog to all the above. God willing, each one of you will stand out like the Sun does over the Pacific.

If anybody is hurt owing to anything contained in this blog, feel free to make yourself herd.

People who have been reading this blog would have wondered about the rationale behind writing about an episode, which took place three months back. Since the semester got over on 12th, April, I have blogged at every available opportunity ...kindly forgive for this inordinate delay.Well, more than anything else, this blog would forever remind me of all the sweat, tears, slip-ups and contributions that went into the entire thing. Rest assured, I'll keep things fair and square.

The catharsis that Australia was...

The last glance back...

Had left for the train station by 8:30 AM.Was completely in control of my senses as I found the apartment keys in my pocket few minutes away from the train station.Had it not been the compassionate cab driver, a case of theft could have been registered.The Main Beach area happened to be his domain and he promised to handover the keys to the authorities at the apartments.Never heard from them...must have returned.The flight took off on time and I was at Raipur on the morning of 26th, March, hopping over Hong Kong and Delhi on the way.

For another account of what happened at Gold Coast, check out the post titled "a 'brief' account of my days in australia" on Lydia's blog at http://kakikopi.blogspot.com/2005_04_01_kakikopi_archive.html... scroll down the page to find it...She has imputed certain adjectives in her description of day 4...she also has some pictures from the moot at http://lydialeesansan.multiply.com/photos/album/18

Friday, June 17, 2005

"Every man has his own destiny: the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him."Henry Miller

A sudden burst of energy....

Let it speak for itself...

God is great.

A spectacle of a lifetime...

The Pacific shines...

Finally...the first blush of light.

Few poignant seconds...the tranquility forces you into contemplation...

The Main Beach skyline in expressionless anticipation...

Early hours of 25th March, 2005...anxious moments before the Sunrise.

The last gathering...did you notice my biggest investment in Australia?...yup, the 15$ haircut...couldn't wait for the other teams to join as most of my packing was still left...few stories were exchanged and was asked to join them again for the sunrise next morning.

The phone booth near the apatments...made most of my calls from here.

The skyline at Surfer's Paradise...the sea doves are still around.

At the beach at Surfer's...can you see that shadow?...that's me lost in thought.

Evening of 24th March, 2005...headed straight for the Surfer's Paradise from the train station...here at an aborginal art store...picked up two boomerangs from here...

On a pedestrian bridge over the Brisbane River while heading for the train station to catch one to Gold Coast.

With Dr.McDonald who is in-charge of the Moot Court Department at QUT.

The Moot Court hall at the QUT...Gone are the days of bulky briefs...QUT envisages a day when the lawyers would enter court rooms armed only with CD-ROM's and Flash Drives...the giant screen is for the judge....each mooter has his own computer and uses the same to guide the judge through his brief...all moots are recorded on camera for the students to analyze their own performances.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


I wasn't as lucky...The Brisbane Lions(Australian rules football team) were playing before ta packed home crowd...There was no way I could have seen the turf.

Before GABA, lets have a look at the Sydney Cricket Ground...Dad was lucky enough to get this picture taken inside the stadium in April, 1999.

Was at the front seat...Dr.Fitzgerald is a sports lover and promises to stop by the GABA, the Brisbane cricket ground on the way.

Dr. MacDonald(moot coordinator...also in-charge of the Commonwealth and Stetson International rounds) and Dr.Fitzgerald were kind enough to take few of the participants to to Brisbane for us to look around the QUT, Faculty of Law...on the Gold Coast- Brisbane highway...world famous Movie World (Warner Bros. owned) was on the way...couldn't visit it though...had constraints of time and money.

With Ira and Dr.Fitzgerald

The Closing Ceremony lunch of the LAWASIA Conference...few blessed moot participants who were hanging at the Convention Centre then, were let in owing to the kindheartedness of Mr.Fitzgerald...had my first ever fortune cookie after the lunch...these dragons are celebrating the declaration of Hong Kong as the next conference venue.

Last day...At the mall at Surfer's Paradise...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

An undesigned interlude...Bombay again

Bombay...13th June, 2005...11:15 PM...I along with Shantala and Sandeep(Boss's juniors) come out of the office, and after the daily game of death(i.e. crossing the road) are strolling on the dimly lit sidewalk on our way back...a sturdy looking drunkard who has gulped down enough to smell like an inbriated pig with a gold chain strapped on, closes in on us and collides his hand against mine...he doesn't seem to fancy my spontaneous askance and barks,"Apun Indian hai...haath laga to problem hai kya?....kyaa?"(I'm an Indian...did my hand bother you or what?)...Before I retort back, Sandeep is quick to pull me aside as we watch him swagger past us...Message from Sandeep,"Don't ever mess with drunkards here!!!...unless you want to be knived for no reason..and always carry sir's visting card incase you end up in some police station...not all is hunky-dory over here boss."Point well taken.

We have no matters in the morning today.Can blog for some more time.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

A bit of panic...

Lost my way while heading back...reached some other place instead of Main Beach...took almost 2 hours and 4 people to to find out the correct way...most of the people I asked were tourists and had little idea themselves...a shirtless gentleman rushing towards the beach with a surf board in his hands guided me to the main road...was quite dark by now and for the first time my nerves were under some tension...had been walking for almost two hours now and didn't carry enough money for a cab...finally, caught a bus from a bus stop across this hotel...reached safely.

At a place called Surfer's Paradise...evening of 23rd March.

Self-obsessed at the Pacific Fair

At the Pacific Fair...the largest shopping mall there.The entire Australian trip cost me around fifteen thousand rupees and a quarter of it was spent here.

Saw some unparallel sights here...is unparallel a proper word for topless girls...common, just a question...

The beach at Burleigh Heads...