If you start an article with the word ‘education’ in the first sentence the odds are that people will switch off and stop reading. No hugely important issue like education gets so much lip service and yes, neither parents or often even teachers and the authorities want to create a bespoke system that addresses the student’s strengths and makes him the better for it. Let him or her flourish in that element rather than languish in mass and arbitrary education.  The trouble with the mass system is that your abilities get crushed and you are measured by the teacher’s skills and likes and dislikes. During my school days I was very often mystified by how a teacher can at this tender age make or destroy a student’s self-confidence with a passing criticism. It is such a powerful position to be in, to tell a 14 year old he is not ‘good enough’ or ‘you will never mount to anything’ and expect it not to have a deep impact on the psyche.


In the Indian system this sort of cutting down is rife. Teachers do not have the luxury of giving individual attention and the teaching and the marking and the assessments sometimes depend entirely on mood. All your years from the time you start the 9th grade, you are told that your board exams are extremely important and your lack of discipline towards preparing for the yearly boards is a failure in your very character. There was no subject I loved more than English ever. I loved learning everything I could about the English language and never did I leave any stone unturned when it came to writing and grammar. I was so ahead of the game that I often considered pulling back a bit so as not to tee off the teacher.


In some ways I was threatening and needed(?) cutting to size. This teacher was good enough and had the confidence not to penalise me for being outstanding.


Yet, I was more crushed than ever when my English subject board grade was 88 and somebody else who had never worked as hard to learn about the English language as I did got a 96. My gut turned into a black deep hole and never not even my overall grade of 95% or a photograph in the newspaper can ever overturn or neutralise what I felt in that moment. Lost. Beaten. While preparing for the boards, we were always told that no matter how hard you study, your grade will not always be in the exact proportion to what you prepared for as you don’t know who is grading your paper.


It is this random nature of the marking and the cruel fact that we do not know who is judging us ensures that we do not have our day in court and are left to wonder what prejudices and biases the stranger whom we will never meet brings to bear to give us a grade. A grade that stays with us forever and often dictates the path our life will take into adulthood.


Surely, in any logical system at this formative level we, the students should be allowed  to face our accuser so to speak and be convince of why a B+ grade failed to be an A.


You might find this contradictory but the one thing I had little time for, was those who gave in. Giving in is not only the weak one’s way out of a problem, it is also a loser thing to do. You have heard the old saying when the going gets going the tough get going.

Except for that damned Saturday when the meds they put me on got me to the cliff. I was always the sort of person who looked a challenge in the eye and went for it. From studies to sports to holding on to an argument in a debate there was no looking back .On the contrary my mom was always after me not to pressure myself,but things came so easy to me that I had to explain to her that I was not pressurizing myself but doing things casually since I was good at listening and observering everything came easy to me so there was never any pressure except peer pressure.

The fact that you started something means you have seen something worthwhile in it. It didn’t just have to be a whim, you had a plan. Then the plan went off the rails. Now while there is this possibility that whatever you saw was flawed or wrongly perceived. But it is more likely that what you saw was derailed not because it was intrinsically weak but because its execution stuttered and stumbled thanks to the human factor.

Misplaced faith and trust in the staff and the managers and those you hired. Now that is not the fault of the idea. You might well have chosen the wrong people out of sentiment, blood ties, being conned and charmed (same thing) or on recommendation. Then you trusted because you have to till you discover you have been taken for a ride. Now, you replace the manpower and what happens you choose wrong again or your luck does not support you and even the ones with the best credentials con you.

If it is not poor staff it is either poor positioning and advertising and lack of structure. Pretty much like how I used to prepare for a debate. We didn’t win top prizes by ad libbing and hoping. We practiced and then we practiced again and went about presenting arguments for and against with the confidence of knowing we were working from a blueprint.

All to often we blame outside influences without looking internally and seeing how we can put our project back on the cards. Whenever I studied I would say to myself work according to a plan, do not deviate from it because it is those people who land in hot water and splash about but get nowhere.
Look around you at what you call success. It did not just happen. They messed up too but the difference is they were willing to learn from their mistakes and most importantly they had no intentions of repeating their errors.

That is where the smarts are…in recognizing why the train is going off track and then doing something about it.

Don’t walk away.

Yes, I know, I am a great one to talk seeing as how you believe I walked away from the biggest prize of all…life.

I didn’t. I never would have. It is the mind that had been hijacked leaving the shell of a brain behind. Like a prisoner held at ransom that is what these prescriptions do. But while my sanity was in tact, I never gave up on anything. Even the steak at Caeser’s was underdone I struggled to finish it all or had it cooked again but I never left a morsel in my plate. Let no one say differently, if it was on my plate I dealt with it, never leaving the table till the job was done.



Life is funny. On one side of the spectrum people fighting to save their lives, stuck in no man’s land, staring death in the face.  Getting up in the morning to the sound gunfire, not birds. On the other, at exactly the same moment, people worrying about whether their hairdresser’s appointment will be possible. It must be wonderful to have a life in which trivia assumes such monumental proportions, where dinner list invitations are clutched like they were security blankets and the housemaid’s insolence forms the staple grist for conversation. It must be wonderful to have no greater anxiety in a day than worrying about what clothes to wear or whether it’s time to buy a new car or feel excited that you spent a mini-fortune at a Sale.


Rich people, indolent people, the lotus eaters of the world, fat and sleek and amazed forever that everyone is not as swathed in exquisite nothingness as them.


The best part about such people, for whom life never shuts a door but simply keeps opening windows, is that they can bring everything else down to their level, trivialise it with such panache and ease that you can come off sounding absurd and off-key, almost phony just for caring. Talk to them about Iraq or discuss global warming and they tut tut and wish to know what you are doing for the weekend…there are great weekend deals this year.


It always depressed me. Not in the clinical sense but in the incredible imbalance of values in our world.


It must really be wonderful to be so delightfully ignorant of everything except your immediate wants and desires and blessed enough to get them answered by lackeys responding to the imperious whim. No causes, no goals but today, to live life floating on material morass, unfettered by the folly of questioning it.


It must be wonderful never to be jobless or be short of money, or untouched by grossness, never to be helpless and vulnerable, to allow thought and knowledge of the other kind to penetrate the curtain and work you up. Wonderful to be placid and unmindful, just finger the pearls around the neck. If they break, so what? Go get another.


And then there are some of us who don’t wake up in the morning because they never went to sleep in the first place. Thinking of solutions to massive human hurt, stunned by the wastage, the prodigality of the haves against the nothingness of the have nots.The suffering and the exploitation, not just words but the actuality of it, the running artery of millions of lives, the sheer futility of fighting these odds.


In all my reading Buddha said the one thing that is certain is that there is misery in the world. It will always be there. So his father locked him in three palaces with orders that he should not see sorrow or loss or grief or death or pain or suffering.


Closeted, he enjoyed the bliss of ignorance until one day he went into the countryside and was confronted by the reality of life. It shook him. Bliss died away.


That’s  why some of us, regardless of age , have a heightened view of things, a distilled rage that is unable to blind itself to ignorance and therefore by logic denies us bliss.


For me, ignorance was not a harbour, never a refuge, I wanted to make the difference but I ran out of that one vital commodity…time. You have it. Do something.



This book my mum has written about me called Saturday the Sun went down. It isn’t a sad book. People look at it and then they feel this must be a sad and grief stricken story and life is grey enough anyway so let it go.

That is an unfortunate interpretation because it is truly an elevating book and one that talks at three levels.


On the first of a young man, myself actually and the achievements in his short life and the manner in which it all went so wrong.


On the second as a warning to parents and to children in campuses all over the world, young adults who are led astray by easily accessible contraband narcotic by prescription and they don’t get told of the dangers.


On the third a concern that the pharmaceutical industry that they have to get more responsible and this reckless nexus between the lobbies, the college administrations and the psychological set ups ostensibly designed to care for young adults but ending up dispensing ‘death’ by default calls for a concerted effort by the governments of the world.


We young people are given wrong information. We are told that these pills will help us calm and reduce our stress,which is caused by peer pressure, and life will be less complicated.


They never warn us of the impact on our minds.

The more you do the medicines the less it works.It works well for a while,then it works less and the pain is more.These meds themselves cause wild bouts of depression and horrible comedowns.I understand now that it was only these meds that made me take away my life.

These med’s lie to you about yourself and eat you from the inside.They tell you you alone make things worse.


Even so, my mother has made this herculean effort to get out a strong and valid message and much of here sincerity is reflected in a letter she has written to various school principals to encourage young students to read and identify with the contents or at least understand that college can be a challenge and you need to be warned and armed and ready for what is flung at you.


The reason why I am sharing the letter with you:

Dear Everyone (especially teachers and parents and oh yes, students)

I am taking the liberty of writing to you with regard to the book I have just released called ‘Saturday the Sun went down.’


 It is written deep from the heart and resonates with young people. While the central character is my 21 year old son who let go off this life at this very early age the book is not steeped in sorrow or negative in its impact.


On the contrary it is a celebration of life, however short, and underscores with great sensitivity the wonderful relationship between teachers and students, one that my son Mohit reveled in and gained so much from.


Much as I have taken pains to illustrate this aspect of teachers being crucial in formative years to a child’s overall growth and personality I have also brought to bear the role that parents play in being there as they mature and being aware of their priorities.


Mohit was the quintessential student, son, friend and mentor to the youngsters. I have taken his young life as the motif for the narrative while also pursuing the spectre of the pharmaceutical industry’s power and capability of derailing our children. This is something that parents and teachers need to grasp and understand that it is happening with far more frequency than we think. As such, I implore you to read the book in your capacity as teachers and encourage the young students to learn from it.


I won’t implore you because that will sound like I am pushing a book about me. In that lies the rub. The odds are that if you get down to reading it, this book could one day, if you are not keeping vigil be about you.


People might well ask that in my 21 years on earth what did I stand for and if there had been more sand in the hourglass what would I have done about it. I cannot really say what I would have achieved but I would have definitely done something.


Against colour prejudice. That hurtfulness is something I  never understood and it would make me very angry.

My mom had an inherent fear of dark skinned people.She was brought up with a very narrow perspective to life and I worked very hard to open her eyes to accepting all of humanity as equal.I tended to favour the shows by African- Americans ,when she questioned this preference,I told her they were the most talented people on earth,whether in Sports,Music or any other Art.When I was still in doubt of her total acceptance I would tell her “Mom if you continue with this I shall give you dark skinned children”This made my mom feel the pain I was feeling for this prejudice and she understood that skin color is simply a social construct.


From the need to see western visuals, as upmarket, to this famous producer and who said that is what the people want, they like to see white women and so, we give them what they want. To quote:

“Everyone wants to be fair and lovely.”


Not so long ago in the murky history of the IPL some dark skinned girls were disinvited from jumping up and down on the boundary stage because the spectators (who ostensibly had come to watch cricket) felt cheated. After all, if we wish to see a woman leap about the place let her at least be white.


But where this packaging reaches its giddiest limit is in advertising Indian products to Indian buyers through the prejudicial prism of ethnic whitewashing. You would think all babies are white in India. You would also be led to believe that electronics and top of the line transportation were somewhat given an extra octane if there was a blonde and blue eyed babe flung into the mix.

Some well known fashion journalist in India once wrote:For a rickshaw-puller who earns $2 a day, seeing a fair-skinned woman is an escape, a fantasy.”

Just reading it makes one cringe. I cringed big time.

In a country where my grandparents suffered colonization and dismemberment from their home-land,why do we still worship fair skin?From Bollywood movies to job interviews in the real world,to getting a part in the school or college drama,function or any occasion fair skin wins.All for Fair and Lovely.

Identifying with white (you can read fair) people is still a major Indian sport.


The youth of India absorb what they are fed. If you keep giving a lion peanuts he will become a monkey. So, if there are enclaves of young men and women in urban India who believe in this myth and spend their lives like bizarre versions of Lady Macbeth wiping out the damn spots of melanin and seeking sanctuary in a future existence enhanced by a lightening of skin tones, then their sad and sorry priorities are nourished by a visual diet that underscores this perception


The self-deception by the retail market and the constant assault on individual self respect have created a complex. They have won and thousands of men and women do believe that white is the way to go. The indoctrination is complete. Even intelligent, successful Indians are fully paid subscribers to this cause. Film stars and celebrities sell skin fair gunk without any qualms. They allow their skin tones to be photo-shopped. Camera lighting is positioned to soften their colour’s intensity. Even those dance sequences are shot so that there is one very dark person who acts as a foil to accentuate the ‘fairness’ of the hero or heroine.


In the Malls fasion houses  place Indian clothes on white or ivory mannequins by the dozens. They have blue eyes and blonde hair.


Just try to observe an average Indian when they see a foreigner.

First would be the constant staring at their skin tone. (Oh my gord! Kitna gora hai wo!)

Second would be the thought of clicking a photo with him/her. (Premium and exotic class of humanity, they are.)

And render space. None of these would be extended to anyone with a dark skin tone.


So it goes on endlessly. The cloned Indian editions of world famous magazines fill their pages with white facsimiles. Commercial films have party scenes where the guests are largely white. Indian writers, by and large, spin books out of the semi-rural quaintness  of Indian traditions to intrigue a western audience.


Damn it all, white even rhymes with right. The indoctrination is complete.


And it made me very angry and I would flail against this even at a relatively young age. I don’t know what sort of crusade I would have conducted or how I would have rallied public opinion in my favour but I would not have sat silent.


 Maybe I would have taken my medical background and brought it to bear on public opinion. And I would have certainly thrown away any tube of skinfair cream.


One of the legacies one leaves behind is food. Oh, I mean that seriously. After me my mother has made my favourite dishes into a citadel of happy memories. She has even gone a step further and created a restaurant in Mumbai’s Goregaon area called MAA incorporating Mohits Corner as a tangible tribute to me and my love for good food. For me it was a benediction and I was a stickler that every dish on the table should have the right amount of spices. To me even at that young age food and its preparations were of the utmost importance. I have always seen it as an art and a science. To me it is the subtlety of the dish, the balance of the ingredients. They must create a symphony and every such entity served with grace and style.I especially loved the Japanese food and taught mom to make some Japanese dishes,soups and appetizers.


I have never understood members of the human race who slobber over their food and kill it with spices and oils and what I call the ketchup tribe. Food must be enjoyed, savoured, recalled and given the status it deserves.


And it is with the same fervor that I believe in variety. You cannot continue to fall back on the same six staples every time.My mom used to mostly cook Sindhi food,Sindhi curry used to be my all time favouite with Aloo Tikki,every full moon day. I think I drove my mother crazy by insisting that experimentation was the essence of good cooking and one must continue to strive to build one’s ‘library’ of recipes.I would give her Thai recipes,Italian recipes and many other recipes.I love her so much that I always strived to up her skills. Today, she is not just the proud owner of a huge stock of incredible dishes but is adept at making them.


The love she gave to me and still gives to me from down there on earth is also ladled into the food she makes. Her education under my tutelage is paying off. I may not be there to taste it and enjoy but but I know that her reputation for making great stuff is being enhanced by the day.

 As for me, I could never eat mass produced food. Bake, roast, baste, marinate, let is stew in its own juices and make it for the individual, that is the secret of great cooking.


Let me tell you something. If you see food as a means rather than an end you are missing one of the great experiences of life. It is not something you cut and pour into hot water. That is not food. Food is a journey in which you map your path and then follow it assiduously. It calls for effort and it calls for a special kind of dedication. When you see it in its final stage, the sensation should be like reading a poem that has got all its rhythm right, a musical score where the musical notes fall into place.


You never overdo it or undercook it and only practice will give you that ability to judge the famous phrase in culinary discipline: just right.


Change your own attitude towards food and see how it changes your life and your values.I always believed Eat less but eat good.


Look for unusual condiments, different greens, try combinations you have never tried before, exult in your attempts to get it just right and then sit down and taste it, don’t just swallow it in a rush.


MAA will be a hit once it finds its place. It is young yet, like an underdone grill. But gradually, with the magic of ma’s  cooking it will begin to turn succulent and tender…the way life should be.



One of my mother’s major thrusts has been to convince people the difference between the mind and the brain. They are two mutually exclusive entities and that does not change because most of us don’t see the difference.

For example, when these pills are dispensed on campus they impact on the brain and create chemical changes. They bring about mood swings. The minds resists it as much as it can, but if the brain triumps the mind, it begins to lose ground. The mind is powerful, have no doubts about it, and it can resist a lot of attack, so to speak. If it wasn’t for that defence the brain would have had a much easier time of it.  The mind can control pain, it can control emotions, it can provide that vital check and balance. The mind over matter theory in practice with the brain being the matter. But an incessant assault slows it down, allows the malfunctions in the brain to launch their insidious attacks.

 And when these attacks are initiated by chemically charged hostility on the brain from outside sources thereby changing its composition it is the mind that pays the consequences.

 Take the meds you have that are simply over the counter.No big deal. But they impact on the brain even though we erroneously talk about mind inducing drugs. Those are brain changing drugs that then compel the brain to hurt the mind.

Oh yes there is a common point that causes the two to cross. The brain also fights the foreign invader and wants be on good terms with the mind. It tells the mind well in advance that it is being struck by chemicals and together we must fight it. In the beginning the fight is with a sense of togetherness. The brain and the mind have a common enemy and they fight it shoulder to shoulder, each telling the other to watch out. But gradually, the brain begins to respond and react to this stimuli from outside and starts to let the mind down. The mind feels isolated and betrayed. What is wrong with the brain that it is sending all these wrong signals? Off balance, the mind begins to shun the brain’s impulses. But gradually, they start taking over and, after a while, the mind just gives up.


I had no mind to do what I did that Saturday morning. My mind was never wired like that. But when those legally dispensed drugs started messing with my brain (not my mind as we like to say, fooled as we are by nomenclature, like in mess with my mind) there was no fight left. You see the mind is not an organ, the brain is and that is why it is vulnerable to these influences. Your mind can be stable and totally normal but your brain can steer it into disaster. That is what my Mom has been trying to explain to people these past two years. The brain is the target because it can be manipulated and then it impacts on the mind.

William Salt, an MD puts it rather well. Your brain is part of the visible, tangible world of the body. Your mind is part of the invisible, transcendent world of thought, feeling, attitude, belief and imagination. The brain is the physical organ most associated with mind and consciousness, but the mind is not confined to the brain. The intelligence of your mind permeates every cell of your body, not just brain cells. Your mind has tremendous power over all bodily systems.

Right. Until your brain is victimised.


Mohit’s radiant smile

Every morning in America where I studied over 500 students climb aboard the prescription drug bandwagon and begin a regimen of pills ostensibly under the misbegotten belief that these uppers and downers will enhance their performance in studies. Others in larger numbers manage with consummate ease to obtain official documentation so they can begin to imbibe meds legally and become victims of a modern conspiracy that no one takes seriously even though there are more casualties than in a war zone. That is because campus is a war zone and the indiscriminate use of drugs is rampant. We just do not want to see it.


According to the Drug Enforcement Agency nearly 12 percent of college students reported using one or more types of prescription drugs (including antidepressants, sedatives, and stimulants) that were not prescribed to them within the last 12 months. College students have a higher likelihood of misusing prescription stimulants, often referred to as “study drugs,” when compared to their non-college peers.


What a lovely sound that has: study drugs. Sounds so harmless and pleasant like a tutor holding your hand and taking you to your degree.


Well, get this straight. It is a death knell. If it does not kill you prematurely it will scramble your brains more effectively than a chef does his eggs for breakfast.


The DEA goes on to alert parents who, for some reason, dig their heads into the sands and do not want to see it. Oh, no, not our child, he or she would never. And we do not tell them because we are afraid to hurt them, afraid of their reactions, their dismay and disappointment, their shock and all that comes with it by way of recriminations. So, instead we go to great lengths to conceal the drama unfolding in our heads, sometimes exploding with the sheer pressure of it. And then, when we have become zombies we end  up hurting them even more because now they cannot understand where it all began to go wrong and it is so difficult to explain that we didn’t tell them to protect them from the fallout. As difficult as it is to explain that we are no longer by then masters of our own minds, having sold it cheaply for a false haven. Now, we are propelled by a malevolent and inner force against which we are helpless. Even our screams for help are silent. How then can anyone hear us.

A person who is suffering from this darkness cannot enable themselves to get help.How can a person who is drowning and so far underwater even call out for help.


I did not decide at the tender age of 21 to leap off the mortal coil and end what could have been an exceptionally gratifying life. It was done for me by the goblins created in my mind. How can I explain that I had no say in it. I had been mentally kidnapped under the premise and the promise that this regimen of meds would be salutary and good for me, not scorch my brain and bruise my mind.


Which is why I keep going back to the responsibilities of the adults, especially teachers..and also parents. Get out of the sand.


This is what the DEA says:


Parents – be able to talk knowledgeably about prescription drugs with your children


Faculty members and staff – be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of prescription drug misuse, and know the available on- and off-campus resources to refer someone for help


Students – learn the facts and talk to your parents or another trusted adult (e.g., professor, coach, friend) about concerns you have about prescription drugs


Finally the big one, that underground marketplace: Don’t share your prescription drugs – they were prescribed to you, not someone else. That is bad enough that you are on them.




And so the faithful came. Over 100 friends,relatives,neighbours,former teachers and media gathered at the India Club on Oct 24 to witness and participate in the release of the book about me. Saw my mother and father stand on the stage and present the first copy to the Acting Consul General of India Mrs Sumathi Vasudeva whose touching speech moved everyone visibly. She too has suffered a grievous loss of a grown child who was also 21, and shared with grace and dignity her own experience. The title of the book Saturday the Sun went down resonated with her because her tragedy too happened on that day of the week.

I was there in spirit and was delighted to see Nargish  Khambatta and Nina Kataky,two top drawer educationists along with maths whizz Herman Gomes. Iconic business tycoons like Vasu Shroff and Ram Buxani added a certain zest to the proceedings while Dubai’s most famous photographer  and historical recorder Ramesh Shukla also made an appearance.

It was wonderful to see Mohit’s  friend Anusha making it to the evening.

Friendly faces,men and women who cared enough, to share a slice of closure with my mother and father.Through the mist in his eyes I saw my dad walk taller and straighter for the first time in two long years.

As for my mother what a woman.They did a reading from the book referring to Erin Brokovich and her fight against corporate contamination. In her own way my mother has been as resolute and unwavering in her desire to caution parents of the risk of campus  prescriptions and their menace.

She hasn’t won the war yet but in the 21 years I knew her it was this detetmination that most impressed.She is a fighter and even Dad knows she won’t let go.

Wish my sister Vidhi had made it but it wasn’t possible so please do send her the tape.

I may not be there but she will be warmed to see I haven’t been forgotten.

Oh yes and thanks for making it a relatively no speech affair and keeping it light with wine and cheese and some good conversation.

I hope people read the book and get the message.These are your kids,wake up notice the difference,look out for the warning signs,get the facts and keep up with New Research and Current Inittiative, and do something about it.

We are so far under water drowning that we cannot call out to anyone for help so it is your duty since now you are warned about the warning signs to reach out to a loved one.By being informed and sharing what you know you could save someone’s life.


While there may be a little inconvenience in the beginning and people on prescription meds may need to adjust the new UAE rules on bringing in stuff are longterm sensible.

Prescriptions mean nothing. Up until now that was a piece of paper taken on trust but now even this document  comes under scrutiny because it is these prescription meds that are the most sinister.

Some doctor gives you the ‘calmer’ the ‘sleeper’ the anxiety crusher,the anti depressive,the upper and the downer and you are soon reduced to a creature of habit,dependent on pills and capsules. One day you cannot access them and gloom descends,thick and forbidding and totally overwhelming,holding you at ransom.

Now you cannot sleep.The pain spikes. Anxiety,like an angry sea boils within and depression sits like a stone in your head.

My kingdom for a pill,just one.

How are this tribe any less hooked than a junkie? Just because you didnt get your fix in some sleazy tunnel or tenement but were given it by a pharmacist in a white coat with a bill doesn’t mean you are safe. Yes,of course it is easy to be beguiled because these are not wrapped in dirty little bags exchanged  surreptitiousy by some dealer.These come in silver strips and little pretty bottles and have you in thrall.

I should know.Been there done that. And thr havoc it played with my synapses and my senses,all of it wrapped in mentor concern.

Look at the price I paid in the end.

Just a medical student trying his best to learn, to seek and not to yield. Not finding enough hours in the day to combat the workload and converting sleep into a luxury,give me a pill.

So from me to all of you let me tell you they got it right in the UAE. They will monitor the meds and more luck to them.