Two events in two cities – Jstor workshop & India Social Summit 2010 – and one loss: Eventful life as always

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Stephen Gately: The ‘New begginging’ was too short, RIP Steo

Woke up to this absolutely shocking news, Stephen Gately of the famous Irish boyband Boyzone is dead. BBC reports,

Boyzone singer Stephen Gately has died suddenly at the age of 33 while on holiday in Majorca. Spanish police said there were no signs of suspicious circumstances, but the cause of death is not yet known.

Gately was on holiday with his long-term partner Andy Cowles. His bandmates said they were “completely devastated” and are now travelling to Majorca.

Boyzone manager Louis Walsh has pulled out of Sunday’s edition of ITV1’s X Factor in the wake of Gately’s death.

Looks like 2009 is going down in history as the year of shocking celebrity deaths and of all of them Stephen’s loss shocked me the most. Even though I wasn’t exactly a teenager in those days, but I have been obsessed with Boyzone, Ronan and Stephen in particular in the 90s. So many memories are right now flashing through my mind.

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R.I.P Michael Jackson, you were God sent: The Memorial

RIP The King of Pop


Sanjukta Basu Live Blogging: the best in India

They believe in every few ages every time the affairs of the world goes haywire God pays a visit to earth, its the same God who just comes in various different avatars. He came and wrote holy books, The Geeta, The Bible The Quran.

But not every time will he write holy books will he, in different ages need of the hour changes. So this one time he came and gave man kind, the Pop music.

Rest in Peace, Michael Jackson, you were that God sent who gave us pop music. Do come back again for this world wouldn’t be the same without you. Michael tried in vain to teach her moon walk and just gave up at her attempts. “Michael loved to laugh, MJ’s laugh was the sweetest and purest laugh I’ve ever known, he was very mischievous.”

Watching the Live telecast of the Memorial service from Staple Center.

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Poster by Devious Design

A Global Human Tragedy – RIP Michael Jackson

Girl boy were going through a break up. They promised they would never talk. This morning boy messaged girl, “MJ is no more.” She called him back and they shared the fond memories they had about MJ and his songs. How they danced to his tunes in school, how they bought blank cassettes and recorded MJ songs for their friends on their birthdays. MJ brought them together again.

Most people I know are calling their families to share their grief. On Twitter people are sharing their fond memories of the King of Pop. His death is like a global human tragedy.

I am shocked to say the least. The first thing I do every morning is switch on the radio. Today when I switched it on they were playing ‘Black or White’. They have been playing at least 4-5 MJ songs every day throughout this month as a part of a contest. At the end of the each day one caller who would be able to correctly identify all the MJ songs would be selected as a finalist and at the end of the month-long contest, one winner would be chosen among all the finalists to be flown to London for Michael Jackson’s last ever concert. But not any more.

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Jade Goody: The winner took it all

Ever since as a teenager I have romanticized the idea of an young and famous death. I am not suicidal. I think they suck who kill themselves. Someone once asked me what your advice would be to a person contemplating suicide and I said, “I’ll say – go to hell.” 

Yet I always thought death was romantic. I fantasized young lovers who died for love because the world wouldn’t let them live and love. I fantasized even more the death of a lover whose love remained unrequited. 

Every time my heart would break, every time some jerk would leave me all alone in the walk of life I would tell him in my imagination and I’ll tell myself, “Someday when I’ll be long gone, someday when you’ll be all alone feeling down and low, you’d know my worth and what you’ve lost. Someday you’ll miss me like crazy, you’ll weep till you have no tears left just to be able see me once but you won’t find me ever, never ever. 

For death to be romantic it has to be young. There’s no point dying when you are old and worn out. When your charm is lost, your purpose on earth is lost, when you don’t even remember the people you wanted to cry for you and when there’s no way they’ll even ever look for you. You should be gone soon enough they left you so that by the time they look back they can’t find you any more. It’s like how sport stars should retire at the peak of their glory much before people start saying, “ah it’s high time the guy should retire already.” 

And it has to be famous so that they know they lost you. So that even if they weren’t looking back for you when they’ll see you speeding away they’ll know you’ve left them far behind. Assuming you lost their numbers or they stopped taking your calls – imagine the shock they’ll get if they read on the papers that you were dead. 

Jade Goody had that perfectly romantic death that I always fantasized for myself. The kind of stuff that eternal tales and urban legends are made of Jade had them in her life and in her death. 

Few people knew about Jade until her entry as the villain in the reality TV show Big Brother. At least no body outside the British TV audience knew about her. Then came the big break in her life, she made a racial comment against Indian film star Shilpa Shetty. Like it happens in any story, the whole world loved the victim and hated the villain. Shilpa Shetty gained immense sympathy and went on to win the show ‘Big Brother’. 

‘The winner takes it all’ we thought and switched off the TV to move on with our lives. Well, if it would have been an ordinary life the winner would have taken it all and the story would have ended there but Jade’s wasn’t an ordinary life. 

Jade was to leave us all behind and win the race. She was going to die. And its not even like she was to die in a plane crash or get hit by a truck, she had the darkest of all premature deaths, the cancer. Cancer, one word says it all. The minute you say ‘cancer’ it creates an aura of pain, loss and sympathy. 

Suddenly every body who ever hated the villain regretted every moment of their life spent in such hatred and wanted to now make it up by loving her as much as they could in whatever little time they were left with. 

The entertainers sell us everything about themselves, from their childhood traumas to mid life crisis, their weddings to divorces, pregnancy to adoptions, from sex and drug stories to stories of true love and nirvana. Jade Goody sold us her death. Only this time it was for real. This was no publicity gimmick, no popularity stunt no sympathy seeking plot. Jade no longer needed any script or plan; she no longer needed to pretend to be anything because from being a ‘reality TV star’ her own life suddenly became a ‘reality show’. The cruelest of all reality the audience could ever see, an adventure as gripping as it could ever be, the most amazing race and the greatest survivor. 

It takes an ocean of courage to be able to do what Jade did with her approaching death. Not only did she fearlessly look right into its eyes she also embraced it with open arms. She personified what John Donne wrote years ago, “death be not proud…thou shall die [too].”  

While I am confident her contribution towards spreading awareness about cervical cancer or the money she left behind for her kids are invaluable I would personally remember her as someone who taught me what it really means to live before you die, how it doesn’t matter how long you live but how much you live.

From the day the news about her cancer broke she has gained immense popularity. Today almost every random channel surfer all over the world in this age of global infotainment knows about Jade Goody’s story. An ordinary person became a world figure because she decided to not die a silent death. She made the most of the life she had, she made the most of the death she was going to have. 

What would have happened if she had a longer healthier life? Perhaps she would have lived a happy life with husband and kids. May be she would have made it big as a star and would have been rich and famous. Or perhaps her new husband would have been old and boring one day. There would have been divorce and litigation over child custody. The children would have grown out of a broken marriage and taken to drugs. 

Either way would it have been any bigger than what her life is today?  

Rest in Peace, Jade. We will miss you. You are the winner who took it all.

Crossposed on Desicrtics. Do check out the comments thread there, the mothers of the world are pissed at this obituary. It’s just an obituary for christ sake, people really got too much of free time. Of course I don’t give a fuck.

This morning’s thoughts

Something about the world is different today, and it would never be the same.

Mshewta, friend from the core circle at school, lost her mother yesterday. Shaken. The members of their generation have begin to leave. We all have been like family, so many days and hours spent chatting with her, when ever we visited her house aunty would talk more to us. This dussherrah when I went to Delhi I thought I’d go and meet aunty but couldn’t, she wasn’t keeping well for long, the woman had struggeled a lot in life. Gone. Shall always remember her daal parotas, the lunch she used to pack for not just her daughter but all of us.

Benazir will be mourned dearly, more by the woman of S.Asia

I am on Bangalore Mirror for the 4th time, all times on their feature ‘blog talk’ but this time they edited the post quite a bit, some language changed, some words missing. Am not too upset, not very happy either, doesn’t matter much really. They anyway give a link to the blog.

Goodbye Kakan

I have always romanticized the idea of an early and famous death…my friend had it and now I am ‘living’ her ‘death’…

I had wondered how will it be to be suddenly gone…What if people who knew me, loved me, find out I am no more… will they cry for me? Of course they will… Ok but what about those people who knew me only vaguely, who probably don’t keep in touch with me any more…will they cry for me? The men who broke my heart and never looked back? Those in numerable virtual acquaintances I have? Would they even come to know that I am dead? I am always wanting to be famous just so that when I die the world knows. The idea of a lonely death scares me…

I have always wanted to tell my sister, “If I die suddenly call everybody that I ever knew and say bye to them on my behalf” I don’t know if Kakan said the same to her brother…But I know there are some people who would probably never come to know unless I tell them today…

So I told them one by one – Somewhere near Rudra Prayag in Uttranchal is a place called Siyalsaur…there flows river Mandakini… on 14th August 2006 Kakan went swimming in the river… 3 other friends were sitting by the river bank. Suddenly they saw her being pulled in the middle of the river and then within few seconds she disappeared into the water… Its been 8 days they still haven’t found her body. She is gone. We have lost her.

And then I lived her death. I am witnessed what it feels to leave suddenly. I saw how her casual friends who she used to meet once in a while took it. Saw how her ex bf took the news. I now know how would Munish take the news if he hears I am dead. I saw the reaction from all of them, the Lets go group members, her new found close friend, her ex colleagues the Margees. I look helplessly at her orkut page, people scrap her “hey kakan what’s up”, scraps that would never be answered, pages that would never be updated again, mailing lists which would no longer hear from one of their members…and they would never know what happened…why the silence.

I read her mails on the Let’s Go list….the ones she wrote right before leaving for the trip…

All sounds cool !!! Am really quite enthu about the trek ..hope I dont breakany bones…

she says

I am gonna be carrying dettol and band aid and few first aidstuff

In another mail she was discussing the schedule

16th august : We would be reaching back to delhi ( hopefully we would have survived..hehe)

I met Kakan her in MARG in August 2003 we were colleagues for just one month. Since the day one I knew she was of my type may be because we both were aquarians…but we weren’t that close. After all how deep can your friendship grow when you are colleagues. Oh but we did have some great drinking and singing sessions, she used to love to sing.  She was a great singer too. She specialized in Child and adolescent psychology and started her career by giving counsellings session on a child helpline.

One of the songs she used to sing every now and then those days, I am listening right now… Allah ke bande has de – by Kailash Kher.

She didn’t stay for the whole project. Left too early on some misunderstanding with other members on the team. I, in any case, am never the one to call up people to keep in touch. And the way she left I had more reasons to leave her alone for sometime. But then she herself called. She took a job in London and wanted to meet me before she leaves. She had invited all the other Margees but none of them could make it, only I did. Honestly, I wasn’t too enthusiastic about it but couldn’t turn her down.  The way she would look at you with her chirpy giggle and innocence, you really can’t turn her down. The way she used to that is.

Throughout her stay in London, during the annual breaks in which she visited India and ever since her return couple of months back, she had always been the one to keep in touch with me. She used to always call and find out how I was doing. She was some one who would want to help you with everything. Once she wanted to meet me but I had some other plans. So I lied to her, I said I wasn’t feeling too well. She said, “what happned to you, tell me, I can get some medicine” (her father is Delhi’s renowned homeopath Dr. Kalyan Banerjee).

They have a story on her on Sunday’s Hindustan Times (20th), Monday’s (21st) TOI and Tuesday’s (22nd) Indian Express. May be some of those friends of her who even I don’t know would read the newspapers.

I now realize, having lived her death, that its just not worth dying because no one cares. Life moves on. Realised, we don’t have time. No time to live, let alone fight, hold grudges, have differences, prejudices. We all like to believe, nothing could happen to us, just like her last words, “hey guy, don’t worry, nothing would happen, I have been swimming since Class XIth” But we have no fucking clue which min is the last min.

It’s so often that we don’t call our friends and keep in touch…we believe they are there and then suddenly one of them is gone… As I feel helpless, with my eyes running out of tears for her, I am reminded of one of her comments on this blog

Cheer up samy ..its never worth losing what was not yours .. you always make me believe that.. shouldnt the same go for u too.. what wasnt yours cant be
worth anything when its lost..

U inspire life..remember that..Cos you gotta gift of doing good..

Life will go on Kakan, we all would move on, I know that’s the harsh reality of life. We all want to live but you left a space in some of our lives that would never be filled. Rest in peace beloved friend…guess you were a fallen star and weren’t meant to be in this world full of misery and pain for too long…guess that’s why you were so full of life always, because you weren’t meant to stay.

A week later, no trace of drowned girl’s body

A close friend’s tribute to Kakan

Those who would want to get in touch with Kakan’s grieving family can mail me for the numbers.

All are requested to pray for her soul and her family’s well being.