For AWS beginners, the relationship among an EC2 Instance, AMI (Amazon Machine Image), EBS Volume and Snapshot might get quite confusing. Here, I am not going to explain these relationships with definitions and theories. Rather, I will try to explain it with example and hands-on demonstration. If required, perhaps you can Google and check out the definitions of these AWS terminologies from other sources and then come back here to clarify further.

Let’s say your “EC2 Instance I1″ has two EBS volumes attached to it – EBS Volume V1a and EBS Volume V1b

Now, if you create an AMI image from EC2 Instance I1, you will get –

  • An AMI image of EC2 Instance I1, let’s call it AMI1
  • A snapshot of EBS Volume V1a, let’s call it S1
  • A snapshot of EBS Volume V1b, let’s call it S2

Then, if you launch a new instance from AMI1 image, you will get –

  • A new EC2 instance, let’s call it I2
  • A new EBS Volume generated from Snapshot S1, let’s call it V2a
  • A new EBS Volume generated from Snapshot S2, let’s call it V2b
  • (And a network interface)


To sum it up –

  1. An AMI image creates snapshot(s) of the volume(s) that are attached to the original instance (from which the AMI is created)
  2. A new instance launched from an AMI image creates volume(s) from the snapshots attached to that AMI.

Now here is a step by step demo to show those relationships.

While creating a new EC2 instance, along with Root volume, I added an additional EBS Volume of 2 GiB.

Step 1: Create a new instance with the default Root volume and an additional EBS volume

From Instances screen, create a new instance with the default Root volume and an additional EBS volume.


In “Instances” page, we can see a new instance named EBSVolDemo has been created.


Step 2: Go to Volumes screen and you will see two volumes there as defined in Step 1

If we go to “ELASTIC BLOSK STORE à Volumes”, we will see two Volumes have been created automatically and attached to the EC2 instance because while creating a new EC2 instance, along with Root volume, I added an additional EBS Volume of 2 GiB.

We can confirm the attachment between the instance and volumes by looking at Attachment information in Volume’s description, as shown in the below image.


Step 3. Create an AMI image from the instance created in Step 1

Now let’s go back to Instances page and crate an AMI Image from our EBSVolDemo instance.


While creating the image, we can see the console already populates two volumes in “Instance Volumes” section, that we attached to the original EBSVolDemo instance. We named the AMI “ImageFromEBSVolDemo”


Once the image is created, if we go to AMIs screen and check the Details section of the image, we will see that two snapshots of above two volumes have been attached to ImageFromEBSVolDemo image.


Step 4: Confirm two snapshots of the two volumes (in Step 1) have been created automatically.

If we go to “ELASTIC BLOCK STORE à Snapshots”, we can see more details of the snapshots that got generated with the AMI. In Snapshot’s Description, we can see the Volume ID of the snapshot volume.


Step 5: Launch a new instance from the AMI created in Step 3

Now, let’s go to “IMAGES –> AMIs” and launch an instance from ImageFromEBSVolDemo image.


While launching the new instance, in “Add Storage” section we can see that the same volumes (as the original EBSVolDemo instance and ImageFromEBSVolDemo image) have been automatically populated in the screen.


Step 6: Confirm the same Volumes (as Step 1 and Step 3) have been created automatically (unless we changed them manually while launching the new instance in Step 5)

After launching the new instance from the image, in Instance description section we can see the AMI ID and Name from which the instance has been launched.


Once the new instance (Name: CreatedFromEBSVolDemoAMI) from ImageFromEBSVolDemo image is up and running, if we go to “ELASTIC BLOCK STORE –> Volumes” screen, we can see that two new volumes as same as our two initial volumes have been created.



Hope it helps!


Before you get  too excited seeing the title of this post, let me tell you that I have years of experience in IT Service Management. However, like almost all the certifications or standardized tests, in order to pass the exam, we need to familiarize ourselves with the exact terminologies and format used in that exam; even if we possess a decent level of experience and skill in that particular domain. So, if you have experience working in IT service management/solution architect/Business IT analyst type of roles and are thinking about obtaining the ITIL 4 certification in a short time, this post is for you!

Study material

After doing some serious online research on ITIL preparation, I signed up for the ITIL 4 Foundation: Complete Course & 2 Practice Exams Udemy course (created by Jason Dion) on a discounted price (only 1300 JPY which is approx. 12 USD) and now I can tell you (with evidence) that it was a very good decision and purchase! Speaking of discounts on Udemy, I bought the course at a 95% discounted price! So, the original price for this course is quite costly. That being said, Udemy offers these massive discounts on a regular basis, so make sure you are purchasing your course at the right time 😛

This course has 6 hours of video lectures and comes with a 44 page pdf study guide. These are the only two resources I used for my preparation and passed with 95% score after just one week of study!

How to best  utilize the study materials

This is not a new trick but let me repeat it here. Before watching the video about a particular section, first read that section in the pdf guide, which  will make it easy for you to follow the video lecture. The instructor in that course gives very specific instructions about which part of the lecture is more important for the exam and which parts are mainly for your professional knowledge only. For some topics, you need to memorize word by word definitions and for some topics, you need to comprehend the concept. The instructor makes this distinction crystal clear when he explains the topics.

Practice exams

The above course comes with two practice exams. Although I got passing scores in both of those exams, I still wanted to practice more, just to be on the safe side. After all, the exam fee would cost me USD 250 to USD 400 (more on that later). So, I spent another 1300 JPY (approx. 12 USD) and bought Jason Dion’s another Udemy course, ITIL 4 Foundation: Practice Certification Exams (6 Exams). Once I started scoring 90%+ in the practice exams, I knew I was ready to take the official test!

Buying the exam voucher

After looking into all the available alternatives, I decided to sit for the exam via Peoplecert, which is AXELOS’  official exam institute. I could buy Peoplecert’s online proctored exam directly from their website which would cost me 39,900 JPY (almost 370 USD). But instead of doing that, I started looking for an ITIL 4 exam voucher from third party training providers. These third party training providers buy the exam vouchers from Peoplecert in bulk and then resell them to the examinees at a discounted rate than the retail price listed in Peoplecert’s website. To give you a real life example, I bought the exam voucher from PassionIT Group for USD 255 which is significantly cheaper than the price in Peoplecert. The only downside was that after paying to PassionIT Group for my exam voucher, I had to wait a full day to receive the exam voucher by email! I hope in the future they can automate this voucher issuing process so that an examinee can obtain the voucher shortly after the purchase.

Reserving an online proctored exam in Peoplecert

Around 4 PM, I went to the Peoplecert website to sign up for an account and book my online proctored exam on the same day. But the reservation system showed that no slots were available for the day! Although I am not 100% sure but I think that you need to reserve an exam slot before 4 PM if you want to take it that day. So, I contacted their customer service (by chat) and asked if it would be possible to reserve an exam for me at 6:30 PM on the same day and the representative said YES!

Sitting for the exam

I had to install a software in my laptop prior to the exam. Some of the key rules for the online proctored exam are – 1. you have to keep your microphone and camera ON for the entire duration of the exam, 2. you should be the only person present in the room during the exam, and 3. there should be nothing on your desk besides the computer you will be using of course. The online proctor appeared at 6:20 PM and asked me to show around the room which I did (using my built-in laptop camera). Once he made sure there was no one else in the room and I met all the other requirements, he asked me to start the exam using the pre-installed software.

Finishing the exam and obtaining the results

After answering all the questions and submitting the exam, I instantly got a provisional score of 95%! However, I had to wait 2 business days to get the official score and certificate in my Peoplecert account.

What’s next?

One of my main motivation to attempt the ITIL 4 exam was to get myITL subscription from AXELOS, which is free for the first year once you pass the ITIL 4 Foundation exam. However, it turned out that after passing the exam, I have to wait 2 – 4 weeks to get myITIL subscription so now I am in this waiting stage! Once I receive the subscription, I will try to add to this post about myITIL subscription experience.

Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions regarding the ITIL 4 Foundation exam. I might be able to help 😊






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If you want to search something on Wikipedia, most likely these are your usual steps –

  1. Go to either by typing the URL in the browser or by clicking the bookmark icon if you already have bookmarked it before.
  2. Wait for Wikipedia page to load
  3. Navigate to search bar in Wikipedia
  4. Search the keyword

Now, how about this to get the same result? In your browser, you just type a letter like w, press spacebar, type the keyword and hit ENTER! Just like this screenshot.


Let me help you to set it up in Chrome.


Step 1: Go to “Settings” in Chrome Toolbar


Step 2: Click “Settings


Step 3: Click “Search engine


Step 4: Click “Manage search engines


Step 5: If you already searched something in Wikipedia before, at the bottom of the page you should see Wikipedia listed under “Other search engines” (in case you do not see it, you can add Wikipedia simply by clicking the “Add” button).

Click the dots icon.


Step 6: Click edit


Step 7: You should see the screen shown below.


Step 8: In “Keyword” field, delete ‘’ and just type ‘w’. Then “Save” it.



The set up is done! Now in the Chrome browser, if you type ‘w’ and hit spacebar, you should be able to type the keyword you want to search in Wikipedia.


After hitting ENTER, it will take you directly to Wikipedia’s search result page!


Suffice to say, here Wikipedia search is just an example. Following the same steps, you can add any website (with a search feature) that you visit frequently.

Good luck with your online productivity 😊


the-egosystemI have an unproven theory. In this day and age, by the time a teenager steps into adulthood, she already has read/heard enough moral lessons and reasonings needed for leading an ethical and purposeful life.

Meaning, by 18 years of age, she already should know the most universal and timeless mantras (such as you should not lie, you better be honest and work hard in your life) which are “such obvious” lessons in human life that almost all average human beings ignore them completely!

For the rest of her life, she will read numerous motivational, inspirational, rational, and philosophical materials that practically repeat those same dogmas but with elaborate examples, logic in various forms. And because those same teachings (do not lie, be honest, take care of your health, etc) come dressed under New York Times bestselling titles, she will think that’s the silver bullet she has been looking for! But dear, you already learned the same lessons from your junior high school teacher but in a junior school level standard. However, it’s okay, maybe you were not an attentive student back then. But the problem is, even now, after discovering your newfound meaning of life (from an award winning book, or maybe from a trending Facebook post), there is a very high chance that you are not going to change yourself at all! And that’s not entirely your fault.

Words, writings are powerful tools, but more often than not, these tools alone are not powerful enough to change human’s perception or belief. There is no shortage of books that tell us what is right and what is wrong. Someone can read a hundred books and watch hours of TED talks on the importance of physical exercise (while sitting on the couch) but never take any serious attempts to make exercise a regular part of his/her life. But the day that person knows he has a severe disease and regular exercise can increase the possibility of extending his lifespan, he will not need any book or TED talk to get the motivation for doing exercise. Or it might be a trivial thing, like one day his two year old boy says, dad, why are you so lazy and don’t do any exercise at all? And from that day, that dad will become an exercising fanatic upon receiving a punch on his ego from parenthood! Or maybe he will just ignore his two year old without giving the slightest touch of thought. No one knows.

My point is, humans are a complicated system and in most instances, we have no idea what triggers what in our psyche. For us, it is very common to say, this guy is a genius. But in ancient Greece or Rome, the people would say, this guy HAS genius! The difference between IS and HAS is paramount here. Back then, people used to believe that creativity was a divine spirit that only comes to some selective human beings for unknowable reasons. The ‘HAS’ here means the ‘genius’ was given to them from a divine source which made the genius people humble. But now we think we BECOME genius by our hard work and intellect only. ‘You can become anything if you simply want it hard enough’ is the teaching of this era. Socrates, famously, believed that he had a demon who spoke wisdom to him from afar.    

Here, I am not saying Socrates was right. But I would give him credit for not taking all the credit for whatever wise things he said. Sometimes we do not even know why we believe in certain things, or why we stop believing in certain things. Some exceptions aside, usually any drastic transformation in our belief or thought system is the end result of a long chain of unnoticed trivial events.

So, don’t expect that your perfect, logical Facebook or Medium post or Tweet will change people’s mind. However, there is always a statistically slim chance that for someone, your Facebook post would be the last link of a long chain of his long quest. Maybe someone is on the verge of changing his mind on a particular topic. In his unconscious mind, there is already a long chain of events in support of a particular decision. And then, as soon as he sees your post he decides “that’s it!”. The reasoning in your Facebook post is NOT the reason he changes his mind. Rather, it could be the last dot of the last chapter of a book. The dot does not mean anything, rather it’s just a finishing mark.

The likelihood of the above happening is extremely low. In most of the cases, Likes and Shares are the only things your post will ever achieve.    

Bottom line? When you make a statement or a thesis, do your best to reason it as perfectly as possible. But don’t expect that your perfect reasoning will change the world or even a single person’s perception just because your argument is flawless. Human mind is mysterious, it’s beyond reasoning, beyond anything.  

Image source:



‘Reading’ is overrated. Pick any self-help sort of book/article/blog and there is a high probability that you will get the age-old advice that ‘you should read more’ in one form or another. Even worse, the self-proclaimed life/career coaches are blogging the hell out of the internet with posts like ‘How reading 100 books a year transformed my life’. Not to mention the blogs on how to read one book a day or how to read faster. Seriously? Since when has ‘reading’ become a number game?

You can get me wrong and I would not really mind. By no means am I against ‘reading more’. But the points I want to point out here –

Not all books are equal (and good)

I will even argue that reading misinformed books are worse (and more dangerous) than NOT reading at all. The technology, with the promise of giving us an ‘informed society’ in reality delivered us a ‘misinformed society’. So, it’s very easy to pick up the wrong type of book due to their abundance in availability and totally get brain washed. So, just advising someone to read more is not enough anymore today, you need to be more precise about the type of books s/he should read more. Even better, give some recommendations.

Tip: In our busy life, time-wise reading a book is a significant investment. So, before starting a new book, read the reviews. Do some research on the author’s background. Do not waste your precious time.  book-open-book-page-261938

If you find a good book, don’t just read it, study it

Remember the textbooks in our school life? We used to read a handful number of books throughout the year/semester. We used to read them over and over, even memorize parts of it. In other words, we studied them. And now, we buy a best-selling book (which apparently changed a lot of people’s lives) with the hope that finally we have found THE book which will solve our life crisis, then we just read it once and wait. And nothing happens. After reading a book if we realize this book has potential to teach us something significant in life, then we should read it again (and again) and study it, just like a textbook.

The case for reading for pleasure

You might say, look, I do not always read for learning, sometimes I read just for the pleasure of it. Good point. I would say, still you can read it slowly and read it again. All of us find ourselves in situations where we read a novel a long time ago, really loved it but now cannot even recall the name of the central character. There is absolutely no shame in that. The human brain is devised that way. We read it for momentary pleasure and that means that now we can read it again and get a pleasant experience again.

My personal case for reading only TWO books for the remaining of 2018

In 2017, I read some of the best books of my life. But regrettably, although I am still awestruck by the books I recently read, the information and ideas I consumed from those books have already started fading away from my brain. Before these ideas and information vanish from by memory, I am going to revisit two of the best books I read last year and study them in detail. With a full time job and a one year old kid at home, I hope this goal will be quite realistic if not an effective one. If you wonder what those two books are –

1.    Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

2.    Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet by Karen Armstrong


Q: Welcome to this interview. Just a while ago, you were crying so loud that we could only see your wailing face without being able to hear anything. Most likely, your screaming exceeded the audible limit of human ear which is around 20 kHz. Are you okay now?

A: Did you mean 2 kHz?

Q: No, I said 20.

A: What is 20? I have only 1…2…3…4….5 fingers!

Q: Well, if you consider both of your hands, then you have 10 fingers.

A: But one of my hands is always inside my mouth. Don’t you know, unlike other kids who chew only one or two fingers, I tend to put all the available fingers of one hand in my mouth? 


Q: Never mind. Do you like the name your parents came up with for you?

A: Glad you brought up this topic. To be honest with you, I am still confused about what name you people decided for me. You call me by so many random names, without maintaining any consistency. You might think that’s cute, but I don’t particularly find it funny. 

Q: Noted, we will be more careful about it from now on. Let’s talk about a less serious topic. What is your favorite toy?

A: Any object that is easy to grip and small enough to put inside my mouth.

Q: What is your favorite food?

A: The shoulder of my dad’s shirt. Especially in the mornings when he is fully dressed, ready to head to office and decides to carry me for a minute or two, dad’s shirt tastes extra delicious then. My second favorite thing to eat is my own toes! Quote

Q: Being able to put your toes inside your mouth sounds quite acrobatic, but I am not sure if either of your examples fall under any food category! Anyway, are you enjoying growing up in Japan?

A: I am enjoying growing up in this beautiful world!

Q: Quite a political answer! Speaking of politics, what do you think about the current state of world politics?

A: It’s been only seven months since I came to this world but I already have heard enough political turmoil stories from the discussions between my mom and dad. I really hope the adults of this world will grow up before I grow up! The adults teach me I should not play with the things that I am not supposed to play with (e.g. my mom’s thesis draft printouts, electronic devices etc). Then I hear adults play with the things they are not supposed to play with – people’s sentiment, trust, money, lives etc. By the way, I am a bit sleepy now, it’s almost my nap-time (Yawning..)

Q: Do you have any message for the readers of this interview?

A: Yes. I often disagree with you grown up people. The random stuff I love to touch or chew, you guys pull away those things from me. That makes me angry and I cry. But a moment later I forget it. I can still love you even if I am angry with you. You can still love people even if you disagree with their opinion or ideology.

Q: Deep and insightful. Thank you very much for your time today! We really appreciate…..oops…

(The interviewee is in deep sleep)


THE REAL LIFE LESSONS that truly matter, matter so much so that they change us to the core, only come from the death and birth of our loved ones. At the beginning, right at the moment of the crude instance of death or birth, these lessons make all other teachings, learning, advice and idioms meaningless. Then when the intensity subdues and we come to terms with the newly learned lessons from death or birth, all other teaching, learning, advice and idioms become meaningful, or develop new meanings.

It has been two years since my father left from this world. And it has been three months since our daughter arrived to this world. In statistical terms, the equilibrium remains the same. But in my own world, the void created by my father just recently started to shrink a little. My daughter is not filling up the void left by my father, instead, she has brought an entire new world to me. But the eternal nature of time-flow and the happy-dad phase of my life have started decreasing the intensity of my thoughts about my father. In the first year of my life without my father, the thoughts of my father used to strike me with sheer intensity without any regard for time and space. Say I am in an office meeting, and from out of nowhere, the thoughts of my father strike me and the whole world starts to fall apart. Now, those thoughts are more controllable, less frequent. But I do not want that. My father is only living in my thoughts now. Sad but true, my father will not live in my daughter’s thoughts. She did not even see him. At most, he will be living as a never-seen-grandpa in her knowledge, but not in her vivid memory. Then one more generation later, he will not live in anyone’s thought or knowledge or memory anymore. And I cannot do anything about it. The only thing I can do is keep him in my thoughts, in my prayers, as long as I live. I recently realized that I do not even want my thoughts to bring him to me with such intensity so frequently. Bringing his memory with intensity simply means bringing grief into my fulfilling life (which now revolves around my daughter and my other loved ones).

And this realization makes me feel selfish. Now again, I want my thoughts to bring my father to me with all the intensity it can amass, ignoring time and space.

Going back to the lessons I learned from the death of my father, I do not think I have the skills to write such deep thoughts or even enough conscious thinking skills to put them into words. These lessons reside only in…I do not know where, maybe in my soul, although I do not know what the soul is. The ambiguity of these lessons make them so much atypical from conventional wisdom.

Sometimes, I have complex, difficult problems in my life. I sit to pray so that God helps me to overcome them. But soon after starting my prayers, often I find that I am praying for my father. And then my problems, complexity, hurdles, obstacles, everything becomes so insignificant, pointless. It might be the last prayer of my life. Should I use up this opportunity to pray for my personal trivial problems? My father cannot pray for himself anymore. How can I be that selfish? I do not know why I am writing it here. Maybe that’s the kind of lesson that I am talking about in this post, maybe it is not.

I have been thinking about writing this post for a long time. I believe, writing is the best way to preserve memory. Even our own memory which is safely and nicely stored in our neuron cells can mess up facts and cases big time. ‘False memory’ is an interesting topic in psychology. But if you write something from the core of your heart and if you look at it after ten years, the writing will not only remind you of the facts, but also the emotions, even the intuitions you had at the time of the write up. So, I know I had to write about my father when my feeling for him is still extremely strong and the memories are still intact. But then, I started arguing with myself, should I write it as a public post? At the end, I decided affirmative. I do not maintain any diary. Plus, if I write it up for a public domain, it will force me to organize my thoughts about my father and that’s the sole reason I have decided to work on this post in the first place.

Anyway, to end the notes about my father, my father is teaching me more about life since he died than he did when he was alive. I do not want time, reality, life, or even my happy-dad-of-a-cute-daughter state to cloud over my thoughts about my father and cease the lessons I have been learning from him, since the day he died.

As for my three-month old daughter, after a busy, long day when I get home and she greets me with a big (toothless) smile and talks to me in her unary language which consists of just one syllable “uuu” but varies in length depending on her expression, I realize that is it. THAT IS TOTALLY IT! That is happiness in its most authentic and pure form!

The only sigh — my father could not see her toothless smile and hear her unary language. Or maybe, he is seeing and hearing all of it. Or maybe it is just wishful thinking on my part. Someday, I will be able to know it myself.



During my teenage, I think I read an insane number of books that were not listed as textbooks. If I had allotted a slim % of that reading time for the textbooks, I think I would become a better student, but that’s a different story.

The story I want to tell here is that, the books that once made me cry, taught me what to seek in life, fast-forward the timeline now I can barely remember anything about them! It’s not a realistic expectation to remember everything I read (especially in this age of information overflow). However, I had not even taken any conscious attempt to preserve at least the summaries of those books in my memory.  If I had, I could have made better yields from those books in my life. After all, reading a book is time-wise quite a commitment.

So, a couple of years ago, I created a folder in my Google Drive named “Books I read”. Since then, after turning the last page of each book I read, I have been noting down the quotes, facts or my thoughts on  that book and save them in Google Drive. Sometimes, I just google summary of the book that I just have finished, and copy-pasted that summary into a new document in my Google Drive’s folder.

The result has been amazing! Now at a glance, I can see the books I read in the past and make a quick mental revision. If it feels the summary of any of those book has started to fade away from my memory, I just give my notes on that book a quick read, and the things fall into places again.

To close this note, here is a quite from poet Siegfried Sassoon on forgetting what we have read –

“For it is humanly certain that most of us remember very little of what we have read. To open almost any book a second time is to be reminded that we had forgotten well-nigh everything that the writer told us. Parting from the narrator and his narrative, we retain only a fading impression; and he, as it were, takes the book away from us and tucks it under his arm. ”



I don’t remember the date, but still remember the day. The morning. I woke up (and as always) felt my life really needed some change. Not a new feeling. But that day, I really wanted to change, and I changed. At times, the solution for even the toughest problem in life is as simple as that. 


I wanted to change so badly that I decided to try everything available to make the change happen. I made an appointment with the university counselor thinking that there might had been some issue with my psyche. I will always regret wasting one hour of my university life with that lady. She asked me thousands of questions. Are you involved with any extra-curricular activities? Yes, of course. I watch “LOST”. Her last question was, ‘So, can we schedule the next session same time, same day next week?’ I said ‘No thanks’ in the form of ‘Can I confirm that by email later?’

I headed to a lecture thinking I don’t need to go through a process ‘to change’. I can just change, now, instantly, spontaneously. I did. I decided to start not giving a damn about what other people thought about my actions. Enough damns had already been given until that point in my life.

I did not understand a thing in that lecture. Unlike my typical-self, I directly went to the girl who was asking some good questions to the professor (and looked like she understood the stuff). I just said hi and asked for help. She helped. I got A+ in that course. I actually got a 3.8 GPA in that semester. Don’t ask me what was my previous best. I doubled my part time working hours. While being busy with study, part-time and LOST (most importantly), I submitted a research paper in an international conference. It got accepted which was kind of a big deal (or at least medium sized deal). My supervisor somehow even managed to arrange me funding to go to South Korea to present the paper.

I got a new scholarship. Aside from some stumbles here and there, I started achieving some serious milestones. I got accepted for an internship at JAXA – Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, which will always be a highlight of my life.

Then, at some point, I started losing the charm, and then I lost it. I totally lost it. In the past couple of years, I have woken up many mornings with the raw urge to change myself again. Many mornings, I hoped today would be that day. But no, just not yet.

Lesson learned – I cannot force the change. The change has to come to me with it its own force. Let’s wait for the change, let’s wait for the force. It will come. It has to come.


He was sitting on his knees and looking at the passersby. He was not asking for anything; there would be zero point in asking. But his eyes were still asking…..would any of you…please? You may call it ‘hope’, or maybe ‘irrationality’. I would call it ‘one of THE most depressing sights I have ever seen’.

In my small hometown, dusk was always psychedelic. Until 10 to 15 minutes before the evening prayer call, the entire neighborhood was a playground. There were football and cricket matches in all the backyards, gardens, street corners and any identifiable open space for that matter. Even on the streets, rickshaws were making their way through the cricket pitches and goalposts, with an angry-but-forgiving look. The kids, who were too young to play any organized sports (like football or cricket), were inventing and experimenting new types of sports.

The only (seemingly) unhappy group in the entire neighborhood was the ‘grandma group’ and they had a valid reason. Their gardens and rooftops were being continuously bombarded by projectiles in many shapes, otherwise known as tennis ball, cricket ball, football or basketball. Let’s say a kid hit a cricket ball too hard and the ball landed on the tin-made rooftop with a thunder-like sound. The moment, the grandma of that house realized that some foreign object just had hit her property, the grandma stormed out of the house. She then started looking for the ball, and yelled at the trespassers (although the trespassers could not still be seen). ‘The ball has to be seized or those kids will never learn’. On the other hand, the players knew that, the only way to get the ball back was to climb up the wall ASAP and find the ball before grandma reached there or saw them. It’s the happiest chaos you could ever see.

Don’t think that only kids were playing. In most of the matches, not only the grownups outnumbered the kids, they also took the match three times more seriously. There was screaming, and shouting, and honking, and running. But as the dusk/evening prayer time approached, the noise started getting dimmer. Some matches stopped and abandoned midway, as one team found the other team to be totally unfair. There is no point in playing with cheaters. They vowed not to play with these guys EVER AGAIN (until the next late-afternoon). As the dusk fell, winners, losers, cheaters and victims started heading back to their houses, and they had to be at their houses before the prayer call from the mosque.


When I was a kid, I always preferred to say the evening prayer in the mosque. After a long day and a tough cricket match (!), it felt so good to stand under the ceiling fans running at full speed in the mosque. The light bulbs were dimmed. The imam was reciting verses from the Quran with all his heart. Somehow the atmosphere became something, something that I cannot explain, only feel. You are bound to become spiritual and feel close to Allah. That day,  when I had just finished my evening prayer and stepped out of the mosque, I saw the hawker.

He was selling fruits in two small baskets. Fruits in one basket were sold out but there were some left over ones in the other basket. But in his eyes, I could read that whatever he sold was not enough to financially survive yet another day in life. The left over ones were not in good shape. He knew he could not sell them. He knew he started the day with a small capital and stock. Yet, his eyes had still had hope in them. And in that hope, I saw one of the most depressing sights of my life.

I don’t know why it touched me so much. I have seen, experienced and suffered thousand folds more depressing things in my life. But I don’t know why I cannot get over that one instance. Maybe, I just misread his eyes. Maybe he was just fine that day, maybe there was nothing depressing about it….I don’t know, I will never know.

It’s a mystery what really touches us and what does not. Going back to the playground, one day, I hit a SIX and the ball landed in another house’s garden. Scared and worried, I ran to that house to look for our cricket ball. Suddenly, I saw the grandpa of that house standing a few meters away. He said, ‘it’d be difficult to find the ball in this garden, it’s so bushy, let’s look for it together’. I don’t remember if at the end we found the ball, but I will always remember his words, his smile at that moment.

Like that hawker, we inflict negative experiences on people without even being remotely aware of it. It’s beyond our control. But can we be that grandpa?

PS: Last time when I visited my hometown, I found that the entire generation of grandpa and grandma in our neighborhood were now gone forever. It was even more saddening to not see kids playing till the evening prayer time; instead I saw them going in/out to/from their private tutors house. And, all those places where we used to play, there now stood tall buildings. The neighborhood’s grandma/pa generation is dead, and the new generation is living a dead life.

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