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Physics… Friction… Gravity.. A middle schooler’s unique experience!

I opened my eyes as the alarm sounded and signaled 6:00 AM. It was the first day of my summer vacation and I had a plan this time. I would get up early and sit down twenty-four straight hours on my study table and finish my entire holiday homework on the very first day! Then life would be pure fun for the next two months.

I had no idea that something else was in store for me. As soon as I tried to get out of my bed, I just slid right through the bed and hit the floor. I had to grab the headboard with both my hands else I might have slid right out of my room and down the flight of stairs. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I did not have any headache or fever; but still I was unable to get up to stand on my feet. I yelled for my mother to come and help me get up, but she shouted back from her bedroom that even she was lying down on the floor and was unable to get up. My father had been working late the previous night in his study and he shouted from there “Family! I saw a program on the news channel last night, it said that there will be no Friction today.”

I did not believe this at first. This sounded like many of those doomsday prediction programs that are being aired these days, claiming that the world would come to an end in 2012. But when all my efforts to stand up went in vain, I had to believe that friction had taken the day off.

Somehow, I managed to hold the furniture and slide myself to my study table. It was high noon by that time and I thought I should get on with my holiday homework. But to my dismay, I found out that I couldn’t even use my pen to write on the paper. I finally gave up the idea after a few failed attempts. The television in my Dad’s study was still on and I could hear the breaking news. Friction, or rather the absence of it, had wrecked havoc in the entire world. Nobody could drive or walk anywhere because they could never get ‘grip’ on the ground. Numerous injuries were reported due to people falling down. Cars that were in motion when the transition to zero-friction occurred could never stop and eventually crashed causing major accidents and property damage. In addition to all the misfortunes and accidents, a few funny things also happened due to the lack of Friction. The funniest experience occurred with actress Rakhi Sawant, who complained that she could not even comb her hair or brush her teeth, leave alone applying make-up. She wanted to file a court case against the person responsible for turning off friction!

There were so many other experiences that were shown in the news, few were funny but most were tragic. Finally the sun went down and the day came to an end. I thanked God as I wriggled to my bed and hoped that when I woke up tomorrow, Friction would be turned back on, as I had learned that it was impossible to survive without it.


Disclaimer – All situations & events depicted above were frictional.. err, I mean fictional and were jotted down by my middle-schooler to pay obeisance to the subject of Physics and the age-old ritual of holiday-homework in Indian Schools.


Beating The Heat & Pleasing The Wife: Getting Two Birds With One Stone

Hello Readers,
This is the hottest Sunday of the summer yet, with the mercury lingering close to the 110 mark. So what are you guys doing to keep cool today? I hate going to the public pools, so I offered my wife to take her to the mall so she could shop as much as she wanted.

So here I am, ensconced in a plush leather sofa at my neighborhood mall with my laptop, blogging away and even as I type this, I realize I should’ve said 3 birds in the title instead of two:-

How-come 3.. you ask.. eh?

Here you go:-

1.) Please the wife. Actually she was pleasantly shocked with my offer, as I had never in our 15 years of marriage taken this ‘initiative’. She has a noticeable spring in her step and that bodes well for the environment at home for at-least the next couple of days.

2.) Of course beating the sweltering heat would be next ‘bird’ coupled with the frugality factor (the air-conditioner at home can take a break for a day and contribute a little towards lowering the energy bill).

3.) And last but not the least, I can work in peace with the wife busy shopping and the kids playing games at the Apple store or at Game Stop.

We plan to be the last ones to leave the mall today.. I am not budging from this sofa till the mall closes and the mall staff pleads us to go home. This is a great vantage point to observe and analyze people as they stroll past me being uninhibited and unmindful of my presence.

I was just amused to see a pampered princess, hardly an year old, in a baby stroller with a small fan serving her royal highness as she fiddled with the latest version of I-phone (I guess they have stopped making baby toys and rattles these days)!



My Books: Short Stories and a Novella in the Pipeline

I just started working on my third book today. I had gotten the plot idea sometime back when I was traveling in the Amtrak. It was my first train journey in America and believe me, the number of interesting people one gets to see and the numerous little colorful incidents that occur during the span of a 14 hour train journey, constitute the making of a bestselling book or a blockbuster movie. No wonder Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is a timeless masterpiece.

Here’s the list of the previous books that I’ve published on Amazon as kindle editions. Both are short stories. My third one is going to be a novella with some great thrills and drama and a memorable train journey across India! I will update my readers as soon as I am done with the book.

Not My Cup Of Tea! (Humorous Short Story)
Kindle Price: $0.99
Prime Members: $0.00

‘Not My Cup Of Tea’ is a humorous short story of a couple who love each other a lot but in the process of the daily grind and raising their two demanding kids, they feel that their relationship is getting a little strained as they aren’t able to devote much time towards each other. The story makes an interesting read, especially along with a piping hot cup of Masala Tea (and a little betting money) by your side!

Nilaufer’s Chauffeur
Kindle Price: $0.99
Prime Members: $0.00

Nilaufer’s Chauffeur is the story of a motherless little girl named Nilaufer who is the apple of her father’s eye. Nilaufer’s father is an emigrant who made it big in the United States by virtue of his hard work and discipline. He pampers Nilaufer to the hilt and showers her with loads of affection. He has a vision for her. He wants Nilaufer to follow his footsteps and be successful in life. He dreams that one day she will be rich and famous and will move about in a chauffeur-driven car. “Where is Nilaufer’s Chaffeur?”, He would jokingly tease her with this rhyming one-liner. Read on to explore the father-daughter relationship. This book will enrich both children and parents alike.

Sanskrit : The Mother of all Languages.. A Dead Language?

From the beginning, I had been fascinated by words and languages, and growing up in the Capital of India meant exposure to five different languages! Incredible, isn’t it?

There was Hindi, which is the Official Language of India; followed by English which is the secondary official language and medium of instruction in most private schools; Punjabi which is my ‘mother-tongue’ and is spoken and heard as much on the streets of Delhi as it might be in any remote village in the interiors of the state of Punjab; Then we had Urdu which is similar to Hindi (not in script, albeit) and is considered the language of poetry, romantic ghazals and nazms (it also happens to be the national language of neighboring Pakistan); And finally, in middle school, I was introduced to this fifth language Sanskrit – the divine language of ancient India. Actually we had a choice between French, German and Sanskrit. I opted for Sanskrit because I had heard it would be easy to learn if we already knew Hindi. (even the written script being the same).

On the very first day of the Sanskrit class, our teacher Mr Sharma, announced nonchalantly, “Kids, Even though Sanskrit is now a ‘Dead Language’ but it is still the ‘Mother of All Languages’ of the world!”

I immediately sat up with my ears perked. I mean how often do you hear two heavy phrases in the same sentence and I was sure no sixth grader had ever endured this before. I had to raise my hand. “Sir, What does ‘dead language’ mean and how-come Sanskrit is the ‘Mother of all Languages’?”

Mr Sharma explained how all European Languages like English, German, Latin, French, Italian and all Indian Languages like Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, etc were derived from Sanskrit and that there are numerous words in most languages of the world that have their corresponding root words in Sanskrit. He gave a couple of examples:
like the English word Brother is derived from Sanskrit Bhratra, and the Latin ‘Ignite’ finds it origin in the Sanskrit word for fire ‘Agni’. He then went onto explain that dead language was a language that is no longer spoken by the people.

Now prior to this class, I had never heard anybody converse in Sanskrit. But I still believed it was cruel to label it as a dead-language. After-all they were still teaching the Language in Schools. How could it be dead?

That day, I went home and spent the entire evening rotating the dial on my father’s AM radio (we did not have FM stations back then) in search of a station broadcasting a program in Sanskrit. I was about to give up when ‘Akaashvani’ began airing the News in Sanskrit!

Yes! I could now prove to Mr Sharma that Sanskrit was still heard and spoken by people and was not dead. At the end of the News, I was astonished yet again, when the news-reader announced his name before bidding good-bye. It was Mr Shashi Pal Sharma, our Sanskrit Teacher!

The next day we did not have Sanskrit period. However, I caught up with Mr Sharma in the Staff room during recess, and told him that I had listened to the Sanskrit News that he had read on Radio. He smiled, as I asked how could Sanskrit be a dead language when apparently there were listeners of the Sanskrit-News that he reads on the Radio?

He continued smiling as he explained calmly that listeners did not necessarily translate to speakers of the language and Sanskrit was literally on the brink of extinction and the Sanskrit News and other initiatives like these have been started to help resuscitate the language. When people listen, then only they will start speaking. Just like nobody can be a born writer. First one has to read a lot and then once can consider becoming a writer.

I was impressed by Mr Sharma’s words and his contribution to the language. Sanskrit became my favorite subject at school and I always topped in my class in Sanskrit. I also wanted to make an effort and do my part for the language. I began listening to the Sanskrit News regularly on the radio. Then starting with the Gayatri Mantra, I started to learn and understand the meanings of the vedic shlokas (hymns in Sanskrit). I also volunteered at the local temple near my house where I would teach Basic Sanskrit to adults once a week. And early in the mornings, I would go there to recite sanskrit shlokas for the morning prayers before boarding my school bus. I started filling a journal with a list of words in English that had their origins in Sanskrit or Hindi.

This was then and it has been close to four decades now. I have grown up and moved on. But worldwide efforts to revive Sanskrit are stronger now than ever. Many organizations like the American Sanskrit Institute are doing their part. I have no idea where I lost my journal or the desire amidst the travails of life. But through this blog entry I wish to revisit my relationship with my favorite language and attempt to recreate the list that took me 5-6 years to build. I will keep on filling in the list below as I recall more words. My readers are welcome to comment and add words to the list that I am starting. (its not sorted alphabetically right now, but once I have it somewhat-populated, I will fix that)


English Word Sanskrit/Hindi/Urdu Origin
Brother Bhratra
Mother Matr
Father Pitr
Serpent Serp
Door Dwar
Guru Guru
Juggernaut Jagannath
Avatar avatara
Aryan Arya
Jungle jangal
Loot Lunta