Saturday, July 25, 2015

I’m 23! Non-alcoholic, non-smoker, vegetarian. And proud ‘sXe’!

Disclaimer: With this blog I do not want to hurt anyone’s sentiments but expecting a small change in mindset.

The world might judge you for not drinking, but you know you are awesome! - Zomato :)
Zomato nailed it again!! :)
May be this is the first blog I am writing on Me – Mr. Sanket Ravi Thodge. What so significant about writing things about me? But there is something I want the world to know and my perspective towards life. And many others who are alike me.

A decade ago in my school days, trotting somewhere between 7th or 8th standard learning Algebra, Geography, History, Science. Peak of teenage and my friends were discovering few adolescence stuff. Exploring a new erotic word in Oxford Mini Dictionary was giving a proud feeling which even Vasco Da Gama wouldn’t have felt that way after exploring sea route to India. Hormonal changes, beard/moustache, heavy voice, and attraction towards porn. Yes!! Suddenly things must have got interested for many of the readers.

That was the tender age when many of my friends started collecting DVDs, CDs of porn all over the world. Brunette, lesbian, gangbang, they felt like song genre at first. Naturally it was fascinating! Intimate for a 14-15 year old guy. Very intimate!! But a typical 14-15 year guy. NOT ALL! May be I was one of those ‘HYPOCRITE’s.

I shifted as tenant in new city Akola for my High School studies. People were carrying memory cards full of adult videos. I was generally fired a question by few of them, “Why you show no interest in porn? Don’t you feel excited?” And my usual answer used to be, “I find them disgusting.” Then there used to be huge debate for the reason why I don’t watch porn. I couldn’t convince anyone of them. This in turn was separating me from group on many instances. Left out on many occasions!

Yes!! I am posting this blog at 3:30 am
on a Saturday morning  after spending Friday
evening in writing this blog
On many instances people used to stop talking about girls just because I was around. Thinking I might get hurt. I was lucky enough to have friends who were feeling my presence.

Now I was in my graduation days. In graduation having alcohol, smoking, having non-vegetarian food was the definition of fun. And yes I was exact opposite to all this – non-alcoholic, non-smoker, vegetarian. This was enough to again detach me from being a customary average guy. I was the person from the group who prefers Frroti-Slice over Pepsi-Coca Cola. And I still am!

For many people it was even hard to believe that people like me exist in this world. I never felt like SUPERHERO or something, but felt pity of myself; am I weird to the world? Have I failed to fit into this globe? Was me not watching porn a decade ago a mistake? Can I do the damage control by starting drinking now?

But I continued being same, my conscience stood strong by me.

I am 23 now and working in an IT company as Hadoop Developer. Corporate world! Most of my friends now have money to spend lavishly; on shopping, in pubs and on their girlfriends. I am doing nothing of these things.

But yes I do charity, I bought novels to read, I help specially enabled blind friends, I spend money on an online course, I go on a bike ride!! For me definition of enjoyment stood here.

In a typical day of office I was asked by colleague, “You don’t drink, you don’t smoke. Do you even have girlfriend?” I said “No”. Next exclamation was, “Why are you staying in Pune? Go in ******* city [Won’t mention city name as it might hurt locals of that city] and spend life there?”

But this time I was well prepared, I exclaimed “Life and fun is not all about girls and drinks, there are many other things that define fun.” Colleague said, “Like what?” I proclaimed, “Travelling, trekking, reading!” with a confused look colleague asked “College is over! Who is the world reads?” I said, “Novels are there. And ya writing. That’s my favourite hobby.” I gave colleague no chance to say anything and continued, “I am third best travel blogger in India by the way. Have won three national level fiction writing competition and have got my blog featured in Times of India’s Speaking Tree column.” I smiled and with a deep breath and continued, “I have also developed my own investment model which predicts the Sensex. On LinkedIn my profile was 469th most visited profile out of 3,18,000 profiles of TCS employees on LinkedIn. Have worked with UNO, in a global event...!”

Words proclaimed by him will remain with me for years, “I am blessed to meet you in my life. Never meet a person till today. You are really talented and...” praise continued for another 5 minutes and he ended it with “...got the reason why you don’t have a girlfriend.”

A quote from Robin William's movie
'Dead Poets Society'
I, as a person would judge someone only how he/she treats his/her peers, I would never look someone in disbelief who drinks or smokes provided he/she is doing it responsibly. You have many girlfriends, be happy with that; I would never say you are a pervert. It’s your choice to have them. You drink a lot and after drinking asks your friend to drop you home in your vehicle, you earned my respect. You are engaged in gambling but also sponsoring a girl’s education, I respect you.

Me as a person would never-ever judge someone by what you eats or drinks or wear, but from your character. That defines who you are. Each of us is unique in itself. Don’t force someone to be you, just because you like being yourself.

If you still think that drinking and smoking is cool here is the list of celebrities who are sober – Bradley Cooper, Russel Brand, Mathew Perry (F.R.I.E.N.D.S), Eminem, Jennifer Lopez, Tobey Maguire (Spider Man), Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Kim Kardashian.

Celebrities who are vegetarian? Yes, I have got their list as well – Mike Tyson, Pamela Anderson, Russel Brand (again), Bill Clinton, Benjamin Franklin, M K Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Leo Tolstoy, Leonardo Da Vinci, Issac Newton, Nikola Tesla, Shrinivasa Ramanujan, Edward Witten (founder of String Theory).

People who don’t consume alcohol, don’t smoke-tobacco-drugs are termed as ‘Straight Edge’ or sXe. Be proud if you are sXe, we are unique people left in the world.

Remaining non-alcoholic, non-smoker, vegetarian is also a challenge. Sharing some questions from Quora who faces the situation just like me –

Luna Lovegood!! < 3

For many of you may be I perfectly define definition of a HYPOCRITE PERSON!! And yes I don’t verbally abuse, don’t go to McD/Subway/Dominos/pubs and am still a virgin (better to clear air before someone judges me).

But yes I do adventure; I have done white-water rafting, paragliding, rock climbing, rappelling. Explored most part of India. Works for a NGO. Help people in need! Do writing, photography, read novels, techie nerd, sky gazing.

Learnt one huge thing in life, toughest job is not to create yourself or finding yourself but its retaining yourself; who you actually are. And I am extremely happy that I have managed it very well.

I won’t request you to skip smoking or drinking or save animals. I just want to request all of us to give every person in the world a chance to be themselves, because not everyone is the world is not strong enough to sustain their originality!! :)

P. S. Now I will be watching 'Dead Poets Society' before falling asleep. :)

On a lighter note ;) :P Found it interesting!! :)

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keywords - pune, alcohol, smoking, smokers, non-smokers sober, adolescence, intoxication, hypocrite, robin williams, dead poet society quote, sanket thodge, sxe, straight edge, vegetarian, non-vegetarian

Sunday, February 15, 2015


LIFE – If we are asked to define it, how well can we explain it in words?
One word, impossible.
A sentence, tough, but not impossible.
A paragraph, comfortably.
A book? I believe that too will not suffice the task given.

But how well we understand it? How well can we analyse it? I tackle these questions every now and then!! I never thought I would get its answer through a real life experience.

I was done with my TCS training in Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala) and was returning to Mumbai by train. I was accompanied with ten other friends. Our journey was spanning over 24 hours from Bangalore. Very obvious it was that we were a mischievous group of eleven people for co-passengers.

Decorum was certainly missing throughout the journey. We were having an old age couple travelling with us. He and his wife were carrying a grim on their face all over the journey. Obvious reasons were our shouting and babbling.

Somewhere during the journey all of us shifted to the third tier. And obviously continued our jibber-jabber. I took this as an opportunity and started writing one of my incomplete blog (which is still incomplete). Watching me writing the blog uncle beside me asked if I am a journalist. I politely declined it and told him that I am a writer and write blogs.

He became more inquisitive and asked my whereabouts. I was shocked to see his excitement. I counter questioned him. An uncle took a long, heavy breath and started telling about the numerous things that he did throughout his life. About his daughter and son-in-law. Relevant and mostly irrelevant information. I was shocked to know that he forgot to mention his debit card number and its pin number.

An uncle was a journalist. He has written columns, guest articles for The Hindu – very renowned English daily, was a great orator, appeared live on some TV shows on DD National, travelled most of the European countries, visited Niagara fall, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Son-in-law working at a very high post in World Trade Centre with his daughter returning India a while ago after spending 8 years in the USA.

In short, this man was very satisfied with his life. He accomplished and fulfilled almost everything one wishes in his/her life. I asked him his email address and continued writing my blog. Grim was now replaced with a grin.

The thing struck my head that this is the kind of life I want. I asked him more about his past. I realized that my approach towards my life was similar to his. Meanwhile, we reached in Maharashtra.
We reached Solapur, Maharashtra. A small family with a bald lady (Didi), a child in her arms and a woman (aunty) in her 60s followed her. Their tickets were in waiting list. But as it was daytime they were accommodated easily.

I was done talking with the uncle and then got busy into my writing. My attention was grabbed by the bald lady, she had her head covered with saree and looking outside into infinity. The child was playing with all his enthusiasm.

The lady (aunty) in her 60s leaned towards me and said, “It's her last day today!” I was caught on edge, hearing her statement; she continued, She is having cancer. So, we are going to Tata Memorial Hospital (Mumbai) for her treatment. I was hearing her with all ears, The child is one and half years old. I am very worried about his future. I was all dumbstruck with her claims. She took a deep breath while controlling her tears.

I was feeling terribly bad as well as curious at the same time. Bad for her condition, curious about what they are going to do next. Confused if I should shoot more questions at her, morally I thought I shouldn’t. So, continued my writing!!

Our journey continued, they opened their food tiffins and aura spread throughout the compartment. I could easily distinguish different masalas used in food through smell. Aunty offered me to have some food, which I politely rejected. She guessed that I am not having it because the lady was suffering from cancer. To this I told her that this is not the case, but if you insist I can have some. She offered me traditional Maharashtrian food bhakar-besan. Had she told me that she is having this to offer me; I would have never rejected her offer at first.

I offered the same to my friends. And my friends losing all their senses attacked the food as if zombies are attacking human beings. All food disappeared in glimpse. Watching our interest in food she passed us bhaje, which was like a geek getting 10 GBps open Wi-Fi internet with unlimited disk space. In all this chaos she gulped her food and said, Blessings of you all will help us and the child.

She was calling me ‘Baba’ throughout our conversation, which means father in Marathi.
I intrigued more and got to know they were running on mere monthly pension of 8,000 Rs. from Aunty’s passed away husband. That Didi’s husband left her the moment he was informed about her illness. But telling this, Aunty couldn’t hold her tears and dam busted out with tears.

The child was demanding edibles in train. Knowing the fact that Didi is into last few days of her life she didn’t let him have it. But Didi explained him why not to have stale and junk food. Mother and her love towards her child!!

Before giving a period to this conversation I asked them for their phone number and promised them to help them in every possible way.

Dadar station arrived and I get off the compartment. Took their blessings and Aunty asked me a question, Child, are you going alone? Where are you going to stay? I just told her and assured them that I have a place and people to stay with.

Very soon I started working towards getting some charity/donation/money from various trusts and NGOs. But all went futile, some were demanding long list of documents, some were demanding the patient at their office headquarter (which was not possible for the Didi) and some even asked for politicians’ letters. Knocked as many doors as possible. Tried every possible NGO, every possible trust.

Finally, I myself decided to give a share of my salary in her treatment. And with that, her treatment has begun now.

I deeply remember Aunty’s last words; she said I have met a lot of people, but never like you. May be in our past life you were my brother, father, child. I pray to God that you have all the happiness in the world. Your child will never fall ill, you will have the happy life!!

While transferring the amount I was in a dilemma about transferring the amount. But it was all about conscience. The Didi had two dependents. One her son and second her mother.
A simple train journey witnessed me to two completely different planes of life; on one side was the uncle from Bangalore who was perfectly satisfied and happy with his life. Achieved all things a man can dream of. And on other side a lady fighting with her life, her child’s future and her mother’s life. Still unaware if she will be alive the next day or not.

If we believe, then most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two planes. We still complain a lot in our life. If we worked a little harder, even these complaints would disappear. But we deprive ourselves from going that extra mile.

I suggest you to keep observing the people around you. I bet you will find yourself a lot luckier than most of people around.

This reminds me of a song-

Kho jana, pa jana, naa pana, hai jindagee jaan le,
Bik jana, lut jana, bas jana hai jindagee maan le.
Ho ho ho karle yakin, jo kal gaya woh phir se aata nahee.
Gujra huva jo wakt hai woh dastak lagata nahee.
Jo aaj hai bas wahi hai tera,
Ha kya teree hastee hai, mittee kee bastee hai,
Pal me hee ho jati hai yeh fana.
Kar salam..!!

Kyun jindagee se ho shikava gila
Yeh hasatee hai rotee hai, jo bhee hai jaisee hai
Jo bhee yeh deti hai woh hai teraa
Kar salam..!!
Pritam Chakraborty, Soham Chakraborty, Suhail Kaul (Life In A...Metro!!)

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keywords - cancer, dalai lama, life teaching, mark batterson, quote, tata memorial hospital, TCS, train journey, trivandrum