Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Selfie Suicides

This post has been long pending and I am sure numerous people have written on it before but, what the hell, one more wouldn’t hurt. I was having a conversation one day with my cousin, my mother and my aunt about a relative who was sitting on top of a Mumbai local train and got electrocuted. It reminded me of a news report about a person who died the same way, only he was posing for a selfie while on top of a moving train. This got me thinking, how much is a selfie worth?

These days the selling features of a phone are not its call features but by how advanced the selfie camera is. They call it selfie phones. But the question is, how important should selfies be to a person, enough to risk their lives, or even worse, risk other people’s lives? I had read about an incident where two students climbed on to a rock that rise out of the sea during low tide to click a selfie with his friends and did not notice the that the tide came back. They were swept away when a man who lived nearby noticed this and dived. He saved one of the three youngsters but drowned himself. Human nature is such that people constantly need appreciation and acknowledgement. Selfies are a perfect way of demonstrating oneself before the world in the most daring, exclusive and exquisite ways. But is it okay to fall into water canals or drown in rivers or get hit by a train in this pursuit of appreciation? I doubt.


Maybe if we all took a little time off our busy schedules to appreciate the people around us for little things like a new haircut or a new recipe or an assignment well done or maybe just for providing good company people won’t feel the need to go to daring extents to be appreciated. Here’s hoping. J

Friday, 9 June 2017

Cluey Part II : Shantiniketan'er Toto-wala.

This is a longish post but I hope you can make it to the end.
My elder brother introduced me to the term cluey which in one word explained what exactly I felt when I wrote my last post. I think all of us feel cluey about something or the other quite often in out lives and the feeling cannot be better explained. For all of you who haven't come across the word "cluey" before you could take a look at this.
So now that you know what cluey means. I must admit that it is a feeling I experience very very often. A few days back, I had taken a trip to Shantiniketan with my mother, aunt and my cousin. It was quite an eventful journey but this one incident with a Toto-wala is something which ended up having the strongest impression on my mind and has left me feeling very cluey for a long time. So what happened is this. In some places in India including Shantiniketan, a Toto is the faster equivalent of a cycle rickshaw. In small places like Shantiniketan, Totos and cycle rickshaws are actually the only mode of conveyance. On our first day there we spoke to one such Toto-wala (Toto driver) to take us around the next day and agreed on an approximate rate. The next morning, Raju (our Toto-wala) was there before time and as discussed he took us too all the places that had been agreed upon. He was a youngish man in his 20s I suppose. He was soft-spoken and respectful and as you can assume, the parents found him very agreeable. We started at 10 in the morning and everything was comfortable apart from the heat. Raju had to cover almost all of his face with a cloth to tackle the loo. By the time we got back it was almost 4 in the evening and that is when things got a little bad. As you can imagine, after the whole day of driving, Raju probably realized that he had charged insufficiently the day before and when it was time to make the payment he started asking for Rs. 800 instead of Rs. 300 like he had said the day before. Obviously the parents lost it, scolded him and paid him Rs. 600.

Now if you ask me, I think expecting him to be satisfied with 300 after that long trip was not fair at all. Also it should be mentioned here that while my Aunt lost it a little bit and called him a cheater and what not he never spoke rudely or disrespectfully. Just kept saying very sadly, "ete hobe na didi, shotti bolchi. Chalate parbo na ami." ("This is not enough Ma'am. I swear. It wont be enough"). For a moment I thought he was going to start crying. However, I do understand the grown-ups point of view a little, "if it was not enough you should have said so before!". Anyhow they finally handed him 600 bucks and we left. That same day we had a train back home and earlier we had asked Raju if he could drop us to the station. While we were leaving, he called back and in spite of being sreamed at so much asked, "Didi station e jaben toh" (You will go to the station with me right?). The parents were almost about to start grumbling again when I quickly managed to convince them to let him take us. Back at home my aunt kept complaining as to why he behaved like that and he was so wrong and that my mom should have stuck to 300 and not paid him extra. She said they were very clever and only tried to extort as much as possible. Anyway, he came again an hour or two later and dropped us to the station. This time the rate was again pre-decided and he did not say anything more about it till we were turning to leave. Just when we got off and were about to walk away he turned to my mother, joined his hands and said. "Bhool hoye geche. Khoma korben. Kichu mone korlen na toh?" which means, "I am so sorry. I was wrong. Please don't mind."
Now I know that bus drivers and cab drivers and rickshaw puller everywhere are generally known for misbehaving and extorting unreasonably. But all I want to say is maybe not all of them are bad people. Maybe some of them are nice. Maybe we do not know what conditions they live in or the difficulties they face that push them to behave badly. Maybe sometimes we should be a little patient with them and not assume the worst. Some of them are genuinely good people stuck in bad situations.

Monday, 13 February 2017

A Lesson Learnt!

So I am writing a post after a year.. Not that I forgot about my blog but somehow or the other it kept getting postponed and before I knew it so many months have gone by. Anyway, I recently had an experience and I decided to finally write about it.
I met a lady. I had gone to Mumbai and was putting up at a guest house on sharing basis. On my first night there I was sharing the room with an oldish lady. She said she was Gujarati but she lived in Kenya. You must be thinking why I suddenly decided to write about her. Well, to be honest, I was sitting uselessly during internship one day and I suddenly remembered about the blog and was determined to write a post. So I tried to think about something I could write on and this lady popped into my head and it made sense to me.
So this lady, (either she did not tell me her name or I cant seem to remember it for some reason), asks questions. From the time I entered the room she kept asking me a million questions about my life, my work, my family, my affairs and every other possible aspect of my life. Now that might sound harmless to you but in my defense, that was the first time that I had been alone in an unknown city all by myself. The point being I was quite taken aback by the degree of inquisitiveness and was a little scared to be honest. I did not know where she actually came from, what she was doing there and why she wanted to know so much about me.
Since childhood we are taught not to talk to strangers or take sweets from them. And there I was in an unknown city in a room with a stranger who would not stop asking me everything about myself. So my first impression of her was that of pure suspicion and dislike.
Later, the next day she came to me in the morning and asked me, "are you unhappy that I moved into the room?" I was not prepared for a question like that and as much as I would have liked to say, "yes very much so", something inside me slightly softened for her. That night she asked me when I leave for office in the morning and the next morning I was really surprised when I overslept a little bit and she tried to wake me up so that I don't get late. This was just one of the many things she did during her 3 day visit which completely changed the way I felt about her. She was concerned when I kept sneezing and offered me fruits when I did not have anything to have for breakfast. She offered to make my bed when I was getting late and she took care of me like she has known me since childhood. She left three days later and told me before leaving, "Hey, I am leaving today. Won't be bothering you anymore." She left that night and believe it or not I actually missed her when she was gone. She taught me how wrong it is to always assume the worst about people, something we probably do quite often in our lives.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Apocalypse Now?

The recent earthquakes and the other natural and man made hazards suddenly got me thinking one day whether this is the approaching end- of the world and of civilization. We are all aware that doomsday is long gone and I am sure almost all of us took a mental note in 2012 when the world was after all in one piece. But what if we have been imagining the end all wrong?

Be it because of the movies or just imagination, but I have always imagined the end to be a day when the earth sort of sucks in every living soul and everyone is gone and there is nothing left of what we called the Earth. But what if that's not it? Since I was a child until very recently, I had no idea what an earthquake felt like, never thought I would ever know what it was like to have an earthquake. However, in the recent past over the last year or so, I have experienced around 4-5 earthquakes already. It definitely shows something is seriously wrong. It might be due to the deforestation or the planting of huge rods on the Earth for building metro-rails and flyover or the building of huge multiplexes. It is a world where people live inside mobile phones and are more familiar with their office computers than their families, a world where the poor is becoming poorer and the rich even richer. The newspapers are filled with killings, bombing, rape, protests and what not. It becomes a task to actually look for some happy news. Everybody knows the effects of global warming, and yet the number of air conditioners and air conditioned classrooms never ceases to increase. People complain about climate change and yet never stop a moment and do something about it in their own little way.

When I thought about all this I though maybe apocalypse is really coming this time but on second thoughts, what if its apocalypse now? What if this is the end of the world everybody has been dreading? Maybe apocalypse is not the end of mankind and the earth after all, not literally at least. Maybe it is this end of humanity, of rationality and of peace. To me it sounds pretty much like the end already. Maybe everybody should just stop and think whether the blind race is worth it or maybe its time to open the eyes and take a step towards what is actually worth the while.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Birthday calls or birthday pings?

Birthdays are meant to be special whether you are a year old or a hundred. If you look at it that way, the days before the birthday are the ones more exciting that the birthday itself. The birthday comes and before you know it its gone. For me, one of the many things that I have looked forward to on my birthday are the numerous birthday calls one after another. It feels like birthday only when the phone starts buzzing and doesn't stop for a very long time. The sheer excitement of being on a call and having five more on wait is what has always made the birthday kick in for me. 
This ritual has however, unfortunately for me, changed a great deal over the years. While we get used to new and newer forms of technology or communication, we often leave behind the old methods. So, before Facebook and Whatsapp came people used to wish each other generally over calls and sometimes over a text message. Now people ping each other on Facebook and Whatsapp instead of wasting balance on a call. If you ask me why people do that, well, to begin with, you save balance, its easier, faster, also it often saves awkward conversation with people you do not like a lot but have to wish. However, if you look beyond these merits, it has a dark side like everything else. The personal touch and the little chit-chat which used to happen while calling and wishing a person is completely lost with the system of pings. For instance, you cannot call up a person, wish her and hang up. You have to talk for a bit and then politely hang up. Even though you might not always want to have a conversation with a person, that wish might have made a person's birthday a wish more special, an extra call on wait. Those of you who, like me, have counted the people who have called and who have texted etc. at the end of the day will understand what exactly I mean when I say "a wish more special". I accept that often I have taken the benefit of pinging people on their birthdays as well just like you. But that was probably because until now I had not realized what a call might be worth. It is okay to ping each other for every other thing, but I hope after reading this, some of you would try and keep the old system of calling and wishing going. These are the small little gestures that matter, that one remembers, that we should try to preserve against the force of time.

Monday, 11 April 2016

To dadu..

I always shared a special bond with my grandfather. He was the kind of person I looked up to, respected, pampered and loved to the greatest degree. He worked with the Air Force and had a very adventurous life. He married my grandmother when he was around 20 and since then they have been the most perfect couple. There were certain things in him like generosity, good humour, affection and so many other things that made him very popular among his friends, seniors, grandchildren, and everyone else including the rickshaw pullers, shopkeepers and maids. He was a person everyone loved. It is'st possible to sum up what he meant to me or what kind of a person he was but this would help all those who did not know him to relate to the picture.
And for all of you who knew him, you can imagine how amazed I was at the accuracy of the analysis of his handwriting which I found while going through his documents.



Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Are marriages really made in heaven?

They say "Marriages are made in heaven". I wonder if that is true. Last night I was travelling in a train with my friends. Because we had booked tickets last minute, my friend and I had only managed to secure RAC tickers which means that both of us were allotted only one berth. Nonetheless, we invited two other friends, who were supposed to leave the next day, to join us so that all of us could have fun even if it meant four people share one berth.
So anyway, as we boarded the train we found a lady sleeping on the sorry side lower berth that we were allotted. On asking her to move, she called out to her husband who was sleeping in the adjacent middle berth. The woman complained that she had a bad leg and could not climb onto any other upper berths, but gave us our berth nonetheless. The husband in the meanwhile got off from the middle berth and promptly climbed the berth above us and lay down comfortably. The lady kept standing and complaining to her husband that he had booked bad tickets and how he should be more careful. She said, "tumi erom ticket ketecho, ami ki korbo ebar?" meaning you have booked such tickets, what do you think I should do now?. In reply, her husband, almost showing a temper, says, "tomar ja iche tumi koro, ami jani na." meaning do what you feel like, I do not know. Helpless the lady made a failed attempt to climb on the one of the empty middle berths. Then having no other option she took out one of her sarees from her luggage and spread it out on the ground. Not being able to take it anymore, we insisted that the middle berth was not very difficult to climb and if she agrees we would help her to climb up and down whenever necessary as it was not possible for the four of us to manage in a middle berth even if we tried. We also offered to request some other male passengers on her behalf to let her sleep in their lower berths. However, she said she had other relatives in some other berth and left. All this continued for almost half an hour and all this while, the husband silently lay on his berth not uttering a word of concern or worry. Just as we were thinking she has managed to get a proper place with her relatives she came back saying they were on the other end of the train and she could not find them. We again offered to help in any way we could but she said she will just lie down on the ground and that it was okay. All this time her husband, instead of offering to help, kept insulting her and abusing her publicly. At such a point what shocked us the most was the fact that after she spread her saree on the floor, she started offering her husband tea, food and snacks and insisted that he went to sleep and made himself comfortable. He obliged. In the morning, when he woke up after being woken up by her a million times, she said "how much will you sleep? do you care that someone has stayed awake the entire night", and he says "So what should I do, that is none of my business". Then he ordered her to give him tea and while sipping the tea he kept going on and on about how he will fight with some relatives, how he is not at all selfish and everybody else is and so on.
Are marriages really made in heaven? Maybe they are. There are only two explanations to situations like these. Either marriages are really made in heaven so that the perfect woman is matched with a man so that in spite of such behavior she is capable of being a loyal wife and making the marriage last. Or, a far sadder explanation would be that most women in our society have grown up the believe that this is the normal male behavior and it is their duty to put up with it and serve him and to go on with the marriage no matter how much torture or humiliation she has to put up with. Out of the two which one would be a happier explanation, I wonder.

Disclaimer: To any man who is reading this, I do not mean any offence or do not mean to make any generalizations. It is merely based on my experience being a girl and on certain incidents in my life.