Speed Doesn’t Kill – Suddenly Becoming Stationary Does!

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This Sums Up the Story

Life may begin at 30, but it doesn’t get real interesting until about 150 – This is oft celebrated quote of a Biker. Just like the two ~18 year Olds that I happened to know up close. Anything and everything about them was about Biking, Speeding and LIVING!!! Nothing else really mattered – Revving it up defined their very existence.

It was exactly a year ago that I met these two vivacious young guys, one from the Northern and the other from Southern part of Karnataka. In their own words (which was one of the Facebook posts), it was a relationship that was truly transformational for them and in one year these two guys went from being strangers to pals beyond the worldly definition. One extremely outgoing, outspoken and the other exactly the opposite.

Strangers ➡friends ➡‪#‎brotherhood‬
Strangers ➡friends ➡‪#‎brotherhood‬ (Devadas’s FB status for this Picture)

That was Shan and Devadas for you.

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Shan, as the Perfect Host during the Rope-in Valedictory 2015

Yeah! this bubbly character was all over the place – much liked by everyone on the campus without an exception. An active member of his House, a few weeks ago was instrumental in his house winning the overall championship with wonderful presentation and assist of Creativity championship on the World Youth Skill’s day (on July 15th 2016 to be precise). He zoomed away on the Award presentation day on his bike to be with his sister who celebrated her birthday.

When he invited me over to his home in Coorg during the next vacation,  I casually told him, don’t risk invitation, I may really land up during Dasara for the famous Madikeri Dasara procession (which I have attended many years ago). I then dismissed it as an idle invitation for the sake of formality, on seeing me on his way out.

In the words of all the close friends & the teachers (and the number are too huge to name them all), your smile could light up the entire campus, your enthusiasm and pleasing personality was infectious.

To the best kept secret of yours – this prized possession, the BIKE that you lived for. I wish I had known this earlier. Probably it was not meant to be since I wouldn’t have approved that at all – would have tried to dissuade you (unsuccessfully, I am sure). With the benefit of hindsight I am sure you would have chosen to LIVE for and on the bike and nowhere else.

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Keeping the paint up, and the rubber down

Coming to Devadas, he was a true background person. Never seen, never heard but discovered later that he lets his hair loose in the company of Shan like no one else. His FB timeline was a litany of quotes – those that turned out prophetic (quotes may not be original, but he had the uncanny knack to pick the right quotes to go with pictures)

As his sister told me, Bikes were an inseparable extension of his very existence. Give him a bike and he would not ask for anything else in the world. Sharing some pictures and quotes he used to prove it (sourced from Devadas’s Facebook TL – you can click on the link to reach there, if it is still working). Look at the prophetic captions of his pictures he shared on Facebook.

4 wheelers move the BODY. Two wheelers move the SOUL
4 wheelers move the BODY. Two wheelers move the SOUL
Everyone crashes. Some get back on. Some don't. Some can't.
Everyone crashes. Some get back on. Some don’t. Some can’t.

Ufff!!! The above lines turned out ominous. You both couldn’t get back on. As I understand speaking to the family a KTM Duke was on its way as a Rakhi gift from your sisters on 17th August 2016.

Unforgettable July 28th 2016 evening, just 30 minutes after the class hours (5:24 pm to be precise), when my mobile phone rang – A call I wish no one else should ever receive in their life. That less that 5 minutes of the ride that began at Zero accelerated to a speed when needle must have touched thrilling numbers & suddenly ended up being stationary – ending up in an Eerie silence! 

Being there within 10 minutes made no difference. You were already on the eternal onward journey – a different vehicle, a different destination – (knowing you both, I am sure the vehicle would again be your favorite bike). I can’t kill those moments from my memory. Two souls, so full of life when I saw them 30 minutes before and to find them physically lifeless, bruised and battered is simply not done. No my dearest children, this is simply not done.

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Devadas
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Shan

Bike was what both of you lived for and in the end Died for (died on). A relationship from being strangers to friends to brotherhood and now I add, partners in departure too. Unbelievable that you guys are not physically around – but spirited guys that you were,  you have given me and and around 2000 folks on the campus lovely memories. I only wished we had you physically too. A lot of “if only….” remains. The uncertainty of life brings about a realization about futility of stuff that we fight and “stop living” for. As I go around speaking to folks who knew you better than me, you both embodied the spirit of LIVING.

Personally, both of you my dear children were too young to leave us with mere memories, however lovely and memorable they are. How I wish you LIVED IT UP for all of us for years and years to come. You were always cheesy and full of cheers which will be miss terribly.

In these difficult times, I am joined by nearly 2000 of my student friends and colleagues on the campus to say, Our thoughts and prayers are with Shan and Devadas’s near and dear ones. We express our deepest regrets on this irreplaceable loss and extend all required support. We pray even harder that the family is bestowed with strength to go through this difficult period

Prayers Session for the Departed

Remember! If you ride like there’s no tomorrow, there won’t be. Just like 29th July 2016 & thereafter did not come for Shan and Devadas. Our families and so many of near ones deserve better. Please wear your helmets. Breeze on the unprotected head may raise your hairs, but only if your head exist. Dying on the roads is simply not worth it! Lives are so precious. Losing productive 18 year olds are not only traumatic to parents but also to everyone around them – also unfair to the Divine who sent us down for a purpose.

Finally Shan! I was informed by the family you were serious about the invitation to visit your home  and you told them to expect me for sure. Thanks for thinking that I was a cool Principal (that is how you described me to your Aunt) Yes, they should expect me there. I intend to keep up the promise to you, to visit. I will drop in some day, because for me you are still around in various forms at home.

Happy Birthday to the one who is Abhi Tak Haseen :-)

It is that time of the year, where an otherwise verbose me is stuck for words to describe the “other” half of me, that I am extremely proud and privileged to be a part of, the one who makes me feel like a hero, every single day for the past 25 years and more.

As someone said, “To my better half, the one that makes me better, and the one that makes me want to do better.. Happy Birthday” dearest Aparna

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She can be quoted as an example of every positive adjective that anyone can think of. Her priorities so clear in her life – one who makes every moment of our lives very special (not just for the biological family) but the huge extended family that we proudly possess.

With her around, we don’t find many instances of this, but everyone who crosses her path would vouch that she is there when we are passing through a bad phase and when we need her the most. As I mentioned earlier, if we were to come back to this world second time, I would pray that she chooses me all over again.

On this special day, 25th Birthday of yours that we are celebrating as a couple, I keep reminding myself of how lucky I am to have you

Thank you for being with me and for just being you. Let every moment of days ahead be filled with unending joy and happiness. May the best that the creation has on offer be bestowed on you . Have a super Birthday!

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My gratitude blog for her has to include a customary and mandatory song. Here is my song dedicated to you – this time a heartfelt Popular Hindi Number

Pictures & Facts Don’t Lie – #WCF2016

Presenting a joint report, majorly contributed by Rajaque Rehman, my good friend and colleague. Could not resist sharing details of the Press briefing The Art of Living Foundation held to clarify on and expose the lies that were being peddled by Obstructionist activists Vimlendu Jha and Manoj Mishra backed by Media houses, specifically The Hindustan Times (who seem to have taken it up as their obsessive objective to defame Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Art or Living). Smarting under the resounding success of the World Culture Festival, this motley bunch of town criers who are feeding themselves citing death of Yamuna for year, but do nothing to change the situation, the attacks were incessant. While many links have been unravelled (cannot disclose them at this time, since the game is truly on now) it is pretty obvious that these guys linked up with and acted on behalf of some interests against India and more specifically the Hindus.

What must have come as a shocker is that the Media is truly split into two these days. While some Media houses (not difficult to guess) were conspicuous by their absence, the press briefing was attending by most of them. The evidences based on past Satellite images, the status of the site before and after the World Culture Festival 2016 was telling. This trump card was played well and at the right time (or wrong time for these obstructionists). Well! This must be a real education on the real Yamuna even for these 2 penny activists, who have only tried to milk this issue to line their coffers.  While writing this, we still don’t have the Transparency documents on Vimlendu Jha Sweccha Foundation website (Check my earlier blog for the screenshots of 404 error!)

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living made a high-pitched presentation to media in New Delhi claiming it has scientific evidence that will vindicate its contention of causing no damage to air, water and soil to the site where it hosted the World Culture Festival in March 2016.

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All the allegations of damage to floodplains are scientifically mala fide. An analysis of available independent satellite images of the site taken in 2000 and 2016 clearly proves that the site had no water body or wetland,” said a statement from the organization issued after the presentation. It also added that a Survey of India’s map of Delhi dating 1986 confirms the site had not wetland.

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All the allegations of drastically tampering with water bodies and wetlands for which the Art of Living is being made to compensate will fall flat and will raise serious questions about the motives behind raking up the case. Or we have to concede the Art of Living of processing an unseen power to tamper with something that doesn’t even exist!

The Art of Living reiterated its contention that all conclusions on the issue so far have been reached without any scientific studies or investigations. “Ecology, environmental science and biodiversity being established disciplines of modern science with clearly defined scientific procedures, we demand that any conclusion on the same must be based on established scientific method(s),” the statement added.

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It alleged that decisions with huge implications are being taken on the basis of ballpark calculations and by casually surveying acres of land in less than an hour. It also termed the allegations of destroying the natural flow of the Yamuna as outrageous, saying the only activity over the river was construction of three temporary pontoon bridges which were dismantled immediately after the event.

Responding to the allegations of harming aquatic life around Yamuna, the statement said the Yamuna had already sunk to a pit with toxic levels which has severely affects not only the aquatic life, but also the birds that feed on them. It alleged an attempt to put the blame for years of neglect of the Yamuna on three days of Art of Living event and make it pay for it.

It also denied constructing any ramp or paved road on any portion of the Yamuna floodplains. It cited satellite images that show the existence such road even in 2000.

Saying it is committed to restoration of the floodplains if damages are scientifically established, it expressed apprehension that the compensation amount collected from it could be used up in the guise of restoring damages which are yet to be established.

Alleging that process of natural justice has been severely violated, it demanded an independent panel of experts to assess the alleged damage as per fair and scientific parameters for damage assessment.

With the Art of Living pegging its stance on standing up for the sake of saving the principle of justice, no quick end seems to be in sight.  They never expected that this organization will stand up to the bully. We are at a stage where the NGT itself may be facing an existential crisis. While it turns a blind eye to permanent structure that has been existing, it played to some rogue’s gallery who had a vested interest in trying to sabotage this world recognised event.

And as I tweeted! The Game is On! Vimlendu and Manoj’s Yatra begins🙂