Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Dog Stories

A funny thing happened when I was on my way to the office at quarter past eight today (Yes, I came to office before nine today and have successfully managed to publicize it ;-)). On my way to the metro station, I saw a man walking his dog. The dog was well clothed, I guess even more than the man. (Don’t worry that’s not the point of discussion here!). The dog was sniffing wherever it wanted to and this man was quite happy as if the dog were his master dragging him wherever the animal wanted to go (I know calling a dog by the name of an animal may hurt some people but alas, dogs are nothing else but animals). And after a while I saw the dog sniffing a man sleeping on the pavement along the road. I thought that this gentleman would pull the dog back but to my surprise, this man was not bothered about the comfort of the man sleeping. He was happy letting the dog sniff around the poor guy sleeping on the road. It looked as if the man sleeping was some bomb wrapped in garbage and the dog was with the police petrol squad trying to detect a bomb.
The result was as expected, the poor homeless guy work up with a startle. Who would not if being sniffed by a dog while having a nice sleep? And then this hypocrite gentleman, instead of being apologetic of letting to dog sniff anywhere, waved his hands to the poor guy as if saying, “It’s okay, nothing has happened. You can sleep well, it was just a dog.”  Why didn’t this sleeping guy get up and slapped the (so called) gentleman? That would have been a nice lesson.
Another dog incident occurred with me three weeks back when I was going from AIIMS metro station to S J Enclave. On the pavement along the road (Looks as if the dog story happens only on the pavement!), there was a dog resting in the shade of the tree. Since it was already dark and I moved from a brightly lit area into the shade of the tree, I couldn’t sense that there is a dog sitting there. And I stumbled onto the dog and fell down hurting my knees badly. And when I got up, I was blamed by this servant of the dog (or the dog’s owner) for not walking properly. As I could guess, he must have been asked by the dog’s owners to take their son-like dog for a walk and our dog’s servant (or the owners’ servant) let the dog have rest and was busy gossiping with a fruit vendor when all this happened.
What I can’t figure out is why people need to keep dogs! Do they have so much that they need the excess supply of everything to go to an animal? Or are they so bored of life that they need a living creature to entertain them? In any case, can’t they see that there are thousand s of people who remain hungry every day? And for those who say that dogs are there for security purposes, why don’t you hire a watchman and give employment to a person than wasting money on a kutta?
I wish people become more thoughtful so that they realize the difference between a dog and a man and get senses to understand who is more valuable between the two!

P.S. I don’t care whether you have a dog or no! But if you have one, just take care that:
  • You don’t send it for walk with your domestic helps. Because they never walk with you ‘son-like’ dog.
  • You must take care what your dog is sniffing when you go out with it for a walk.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

They Said it!

The following are three quotes picked up from the Times of India dated 25 November, 2011:

“Why should I pay the Rs 15000 crore? …They have given the loan to the earlier government.” – Mamta Banerjee, Chief Minister, West Bengal

“He was slapped? Was he slapped only once?” – Anna Hazare, social activist, initital reaction to attack on Indian Agriculture Minister.

“Anna is mad. I do not drink but that does not mean those who should be treated like this. It is Taliban mindset.” – Gurudas Dasgupta, Communist Party of India Leader reacting to Anna Hazare’s prescription of public flogging for those who drink.

Talking of the first statement, it’s true that the CM of West Bengal has nothing to do with the debt as a person but now as she is heading the government, is she not bound by the obligations of the previous government. Is this not the way the country runs?  Think of what will happen when the next BJP government says that it was Congress government in 1991 which went for liberalization, we don’t follow all this. Sounds like madness! Anyway, Mamta is in the habit of being ignorant about what her predecessors did. She did the very same thing when she became the railway minster in 2009 and the result was this.

Anna Hazareji is a very daring person, if not respectable. It is a very big thing in a country like ours to go against the government and bring it on its toes. But by appreciating the humiliation of a minister, what he is doing is a complete mockery of the democratic framework of the country. Why does he forget that this minister was chosen by the people of this country? When he is clapping on the disrespect of the minister by an ordinary citizen, is he not slapping the very integrity of the democracy of the country and its voters? I know that the honorable minister might be at fault for many things going wrong in the country but before people enjoy this ‘slap’ as killing of a demon, they should check in retrospect that they are the ones who gave the power to this person to be a minister.

The third statement is a reminder to Annaji and his followers that the pillar of democracy which he (Anna) is holding to disrupt the smooth functioning of the parliament and the government is being broken by his aforesaid treatment of drunkards. Not only this is against ahimsa (non-violence) but also it is shear dadagiri and gundagardi.

The moral of the story (and this post) is only that it is easy to blame others and government for all our problems, but if we look within, we can find solutions to most of the problems. The government can’t do everything for us unless we are willing to take some efforts on our own. And as far as honesty is concerned, it is we and people among us who form a part of the government. The bigger question then is whether we are honest or not. If we can’t be honest in our day to day dealings, how can we expect someone there making policies and decisions for us to be honest? As Kahlil Gibran says in ‘The Prophet’:

“And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree,
 So the wrong-doer cannot  do wrong without the hidden will of you all.”

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hind Swaraj and My Views

A few days ago, hamare pyare Kush Bhai ne mujhse kaha, “Lagta hai aap Gandhian philosophy follow karte hain.” And I was dumb stuck because I had never thought upon what kind of philosophy I follow. I just followed whatever I liked, imbibed all the logically put views and was happy enough. So, there was no need to follow any particular view or philosophy. And hence all I could reply to Kush was, “umm…..hmmmm……..I dunno……………mmmmmmm…………..ya I think so, maybe I like the views of Gandhiji.” And then I said that I had read Hind Swaraj a few days back I agree with most of the things said by Baapu in that book.
I must agree that, as a child, I also was not a very big fan of Gandhiji (I don’t know even today whether I am his fan or not). But at time my views were a manifestation of what I heard from my friends and discussed with them. As there is the solution of all Indian problems in blaming our forefathers and ancestors, so was the attitude of most of the people around me. Most of the people around me thought it was Gandhiji who was responsible for division, for death of Bhagat Singh, for getting freedom in 1947 instead of 1942 and even the present situation of the country and many more things. Some of these allegations on Gandhiji are certainly not true, some might be, I don’t know. But I know one thing for sure that I loved reading hind Swaraj and agreed with most of the views of Baapu written there. And I believe that following the path of home rule as laid down in the book would lead us to better sufficiency as compared to that obtained from excessive consumerism and IT slavery and free market economy.

Anyway, here is my take on the views of Baapu on some of the issues taken up in the book:

Home Rule is Self Rule

Baapu said that it’s not enough if British leave India and we adopt the British-style governing model. As he said,“We want English rule without the Englishman……And when it becomes English, it will be called not Hindustan but Englishtan.” Baapu talked of self sustained village models for obtaining home rule. It sounds idealistic but it is possible and it is how we lived for ages. Probably our problems indeed can be solved that way. At least there would be more peace and less fight for power and hence less corruption. There would be more people around whom we would trust.

Rejection of Western Civilization

Well, I don’t agree much with this point of view. I believe that there are a lot of things which we can learn from Westerners. Hard work, honesty, and individual freedom are to name a few. But if one looks at it deeply, these were the things which were the crux of our own civilization in the past. We actually have forgotten these in the present times and there lies all the problems of the country. What we need is to learn these values and virtues back. And thus, this point of Baapu can actually be renamed as “Learning our own vales once again.”

Railways, Lawyers and Police are taking us away from Swaraj

Baapu argued that railways, lawyers and police are used by the English to rule us better. He argued that easier communication has lead to spread of problems more than it has eased the lives of people. He believed that a human being should only have his or her reach till the point he can do it using his muscle power. She/he should not try to overcome the natural limitation put on us by nature.

I agree to this point greatly. Faster communication has led to faster migration of people towards cities. And I can say with my personal experience that large cities are nothing but a big pain, both mental and physical. These might give a lot of money with greater opportunities but it denies us the real pleasures of life bestowed on us by Mother Earth. I know how I long for open grounds and clean and fresh surroundings living in the national capital.

Apart from that, it is faster and easier communication which has lead to heavy tourism in the hills of Uttarakhand. Result: Polluted hills and unhappy local inhabitants on the deteriorating condition of their heaven!

As far as police and laws are concerned, we all know that some of the laws are simply ridiculous and are made only for political reasons. And it very simple to find loop holes in any law. This is what many people have done in the past to have monetary and other gains and this is what they will do. And with police, if there are no laws then there is no need of police to keep a check on whether people are following the law.

There can be many situations when you need to break the law to save a life (like you driving a patient to hospital and getting stuck in traffic). So how is the law the ultimate governing authority then? Actually what we need is the law of conscience. What we think is correct and just should be followed. But again, that can’t be achieved until we moved towards “Home Rule”.

My Conclusion

 I know there are many arguments on the views expressed in the book. Many books have been written and many would be written in future. But I wrote what I thought is correct. Call me a Gandhian or anything, this is what I think. Aur waise bhi, we are a democracy; I can always have my point of view on anything! :-)

Chalte-Chalte: Chhath ki shubhkaamnayen! We are going to need more of Solar Energy in future. Hope the Sun God keeps blessing us with His presence!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Kal, Aaj aur Kal

Today is International Literacy Day! Since 1966, it is celebrated throughout the world to highlight the importance of literacy. No doubt, the world is getting more literate day by day due to continuous efforts of organisations like UNESCO, the governments of different countries and various other non government organisations. And this significant improvement in world literacy has impacted the literacy rate in our country also. As of today, almost three fourth of Indian population is literate, and thus is friendly with 'letters'.

But numbers is not what excite me as far as literacy and education is concerned. The knowledge of 'letters' and the ability to read and write should add some value to the people. Education should not merely reduce to the transfer of information in classrooms, rather it should serve its purpose of imparting knowledge to the people, making them understand the difference between good and bad and imparting them the wisdom to go for the 'right' way leaving behind the wrong one.

Having said that,  I feel writing about two conversations which happened during the last week. The first one was with my flat mate Manish who teaches Physics at Oasis Institute. He was talking about how these days students have stopped putting in efforts into studies. "Aaj kal k bachchhe fight hi nahi maarna chahte questions solve karne k liye. Nahi bana to bhi thik hai, chhod do." However, he attributed this attitude of students towards removal of examination system from the education system due to which students don't feel the need to perform. and hence, they become lazy towards studies.

When I took up this discussion with Khandu, he said that this train was clearly visible in his classes as well. But unlike Manish, he doesn't attribute it to removal of exams. Khandu, on the other hand, contributes this attitude of students towards studies to the ease with which they get everything they ask for from their parents. Because of this relatively easy life they live, as compared to the students fifteen or twenty years back, they don't feel the importance of giving in proper efforts to get things.

I still remember the speech, on the importance of education in shaping my life and providing me freedom to do whatever I want in life, given to me by my teachers, and sometimes parents, whenever I showed slackness in studies. And yes, I didn't get everything I wanted as a kid. And sometimes I had to wait for my demands being fulfilled by parents. It was not like instantaneous fulfillment of demands which parents do today. And probably because getting everything I wanted as a kid was not easy, I learnt to put up a good fight.

We need strong social engineering in this regard to make sure that today's kids, when they grow up tomorrow, are also fighters and are capable and confident enough of achieving everything they want from life.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Facebook Friends

I always wondered whether Facebook and other such social networking sites actually help in making friends, or strengthening one's relations with the existing friends. I always saw Facebook as a place where people became 'friends' with others but never got connected with them. People made friends on Facebook whom they even didn't talk to ever. And some guys and gals used Facebook as a 'date search' forum to find out somebody to have a date with.

That's why I was probably one of the last few persons in my class to make a profile on Facebook. Even when I joined Facebook, it was a mere 'time pass' activity where I whiled away my boredom or just killed my extra time. I confess that Facebook became an integral part of my life but only the way the 'idiot box' becomes an integral part of some people's life. They spend a lot of time with it but get nothing out of it in return except for time waste.

But lately, my viewpoint about these online social networking sites and online friendships has changed. Okay let me rephrase it by saying that my viewpoint has slightly altered. I would have never become a good friend with Chirag had it not been for the online chats we use to do regularly. I think the amount of conversation we have had in one year after leaving the college must be at least four times more than the total conversation we had in the four years of college. And most of the conversation after college has been online, that too only through chats. The Outcome: A stronger friendship between us!

Similarly, had it not been Facebook, I would have never even known Nithya and Aman. I came to know about both of them through the PRS (Lamp Fellowship) page and as a result got to meet these people, with whom I have spent nice times. And I must thank Zukerberg today for making something as good as Facebook that I am friends with both of them. Hope many more nicer times are in the line! Both of you guys listening?

Not that after praising 'Facebook and online chat boxes' above, I have ,all of a sudden, become greatest of fans of these things. I still believe that the value of time these kill is much more than the value of 'total benefits' (which include the drawbacks of addiction, getting into wrong habits of random chat boxes discussing  'not so good' stuff etc) which these offer. But it again depends on the individual how to use these 'online goodies' for his/her own benefit!

And who cares if one gets to strengthen the circle of friends around? At least I don't! :-)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Roorkee Revisited (Am I running away?)

This post comes at least after 33 days after it should have been on this space. But thanks to my busy schedule(read laziness), I finally get time to sit and write it down. I visited Roorkee for a couple of days during 16-17 June last month. I reached Haridwar on 16th morning and the moment I sat in a bus for Roorkee, I was all beaming with excitement.  finally reached Roorkee at around 3 in the morning and I can still remember the thrill I had while having a walk from the bus stand to Ganga Bhawan. Nothing had changed, the same guards asking the same question on the gate, which they ask to all the strangers looking people (this time I actually was one), the same silence of early morning (early night by 'Thomsonian' standards), the same old buildings, the same old faculty quarters, the only thing changed probably were my feelings. 

The day was a cool, calm and quiet one. Slept through the first half, did time pass on net as I used to do during my college days, and yes felt a little nostalgic too at times. Spent the second half of the day with Shashi and Prashant, had nice time getting into the bakar like the old days. And while the bakar about all the unimportant things of the world was going on, I realized that despite I feel bad about the college getting over, I actually don't want to be in the college again. Yeah, I don't want to be studying engineering at IIT Roorkee again. I actually want to move ahead of the college campus and college life, the thought I was desperate about while I was in college. I remembered that I didn't particularly feel good while I was in college. And probably all the sweet and nostalgic memories of college now haunt me because, and only because, my life is not as comfortable as it was in college. Now I have to think of a lot of things, take care about what is happening and see that  I keep my sanity in the fast running world. 

This is a difficult job to do, but isn't this what I wanted in college? In college, I fantasied almost all the time about this kind of life which was challenging and not all cozy.

The next day was a busy one for me and by the time it got over, I actually wanted to run away to Delhi, my city, the place which makes me feel alive, which makes me happy!

And now when I am at my low and feel bad about the difficulties of life, and feel nostalgic about my student life, I ask myself a question: "Am I running away?"

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

English: A Necessity or an Option

IIT Bombay has decided to test students in English before they take admission into the esteemed institute. So, apart from the the grueling competition in Maths, Physics and Chemistry tests, students will have to face another ordeal before they get admission into the most coveted engineering college of the country. I find that a very good move as the medium of instruction at IITs is english. So, in order to understand and appreciate what is going on in the classroom, a student must be proficient in English. However, the good thing is those who are not able to pass the English test won't be denied admission to the college but they will have to undergo a bridge course. This would be an intensive preparatory course where students would be taught the basics of English apart from Maths, Physics and Chemistry.

However, in this process, a student would lose a semester and would be able to start his regular engineering studies only after a semester. This might make a few students reluctant in joining IIT Bombay and they might head towards other IITs but still, the overall profile of the students joining IITB would become better. Hope other IITs also follow this American system.

However, a few of us might argue on the fact that this move is not necessary as students who are not so good in English also manage to do all the courses without much difficulty, and hence this would lead to wastage of a semester for a few students. But if we look at the larger perspective, English has become a necessity these days. One needs to be internet savvy and unfortunately, we work in English on internet in our country. It is the language of our corporate conversation and research work, which students have to join after they obtain the engineering degree. So, one needs to have a basic level of understanding and fluency in English. Also, I have noticed that those who are good in English read a lot on internet or through books and/or journals (this might not be true always). And this gives them a lot of information about the world, or the things which happen in the world.

And there are some people, who in the name of patriotism, talk about removing English from our lives and adopting Hindi and other regional languages. I find that ridiculous. When the world is getting flat and we are moving towards more connectivity, removing (in stead of propagating) a common language from among us sounds like talking about going back to the medieval ages. When the biggest competitor of our country (China) is making English compulsory in their schools, we are making the way easier for them this way, I guess.

I am all for preserving our culture, our traditions, and everything we need to in order to have a separate identity but at the same time, having a separate identity doesn't mean keeping the developments and the other people at arms distance. That way we will not reach anywhere! We should, rather, look at countries like Japan and Korea for understanding that technical advancements can be done even without doing away with our cultural strength.

But for that we need to open our eyes and look at the things in a broader light, instead of clinging to our past and shunning everything happening around us!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Graduation Anniversary

28 May was the day in 2010 when I graduated from the college. Though the results were out a few days ago, but I got my 'Green Card' (something which one gets after completing all the formalities before leaving the college) on this very day, marking the end of my IITR life as a student. However, technically speaking, I had left my hostel/insti just after midnight and the date became 29th but since the official document was obtained on 28th, I prefer to remember/call this day as the day when I ended my undergraduate life!

However, the purpose of the post is to review (though in brief) everything which happened after I left college. And here it goes:

May 29-31: The moment I left college (came out of the insti main gate) I felt some joy, instead of the tinge which should have been there for leaving a lovely place and a bunch of very good friends. The reason for this was the frustration which had crept inside me during the last few days of college, may be because of idiotic formalities, or may be because I wanted to be free soon and get into the real world. The next three days were spent in Delhi fighting the heat and waiting to go home.

June: Job Search, coolly in the beginning and a little more extensively in the later part of the month. A little disappointment over stumbling onto a job which I didn't want to do, not even join for a day. But I guess I had, by now, inculcated the habit of accepting things in life and getting over disappointments. However, I still long for the joy which my friends had after finishing college and before joining the corporate life. But probably one doesn't get everything in life. And when finally nothing happened, I left home to join Surya in the last week.

July: Getting adjusted to Surya life and the people over there in my group, though at times thinking deeply of what I was doing and regretting the day when I decided to sit for this company!

August: Getting fully in sync with the life at Jhinjholi (Surya Training Center), good friendship with people in my group, started liking the things which were going on, though by month end I had decided to quit soon.

September: Interesting time at Naturopathy camp and very boring time at Military camp!

October: Jhinjholi training gets over somehow after a lot of tantrums and hoopla. Industrial trip, problems with HR and resignation after a sudden outburst.

November: Home, Convocation, job offer from Evalueserve. But I had made up my mind to pursue my entrepreneurial desires and was almost ready to take up the content development project at PPES (Pardada Pardadi Educational Society). Went home after finalising every thing to convince my parents and have some rest.

December: Declination of Evalueserve offer, reluctance of parents about the PPES consultancy project and finally denial from PPES's side. However, this denial, though kind of betrayal from their side, made me happy as my parents didn't want me to work there. Puri Yatra happened in between, though I didn't enjoy the trip much. After all this, I was in a mood of not doing any work anywhere and stay at home, got into a bit of dreadful state of mind where nothing seemed clear and future looked blank!

January: Interviewed with Illumine Labs in Mumbai. Rejection! Got in touch with Asha volunteers, visited a few villages. Boredom because of nothingness to do. Went to Hyderabad with plans of going to Delhi after that to find a job.

February: Came to Delhi, felt homesick very badly once I set foot in the city. Got in touch with Nirmaan people. With the plans of working with them in Patna, ran away from Delhi asap. Boredom at home and wait for joining Nirmaan. Interview with KGVK in the last week.

March: Joined Nirmaan in mid march after many delays. KGVK people never called till this time meaning rejection. Nirmann life was not quite interesting. And finally one more betrayal (I suffered) and bye bye to Nirmaan! Came back to Delhi, though this time feeling dejected and defeated!

April: Job search, applications at many places! Nothing happened, nobody called except for the LAMP fellowship guys! LAMP people call back asking for documents.

May (till today, 28th): Took  time to make up my mind for LAMP fellowship and sending in the documents, and even telling the family about this. Meanwhile, joined Pratham. Met a few interesting people and having good time over there!

Life has not been very easy or the way I thought it would be during the past one year, but it certainly was interesting! Learnt a lot from the University of Life! Hope the lesson continues! :-)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Education: Something has to be Done

It was Sunday night and after two days of loss of appetite and skipping the lunch before in the day and with a maddening headache, I felt a few rats in my tummy getting up from a hibernation and starting to yawn. Feeling happy at this regain of little appetite after a long period of around 51 hours 45 minutes and 27 seconds, I asked Sanket to go out and eat something. And hence we moved to the mess near his apartment to eat some 'light home-made kind of' food. As we sat on the bench of the mess, I saw Sanket waving to a guy sitting on the nearby bench. And all of a sudden this guy asked me whether I was an IITian. I was startled a bit but then realized that he might have known about Sanket eating there regularly and hence would have guessed that I too was from an IIT.

After that, this guy started asking me about which place I worked, how much I earned, why was I not working in MNCs like Google, MS and others or Indian biggies like TATA or Reliance, which coaching institute did I go to. Now, with a mind boggling headache torturing me, I was on on the least of ease to answer any of his questions. And then, he started telling me about what he was doing (medical aspirant) and why he was doing that (because he feels that now-a-days its tougher to get into an engineering college than a medical college). And after that, he again started repeating the same questions about my job which I had left unanswered. This was the time I realized that there was something wrong with this guy. And then I started ignoring his questions and whatever he was speaking. Later when I inquired about him to Sanket, I was told that the guy is preparing for medican entrance examinations and is disturbed mentally. Though the level of disturbance was only at the psychological level now, as it seemed, it is certain to reach a more dangerous state. In addition to that this guy lives in Delhi all alone, with no one to talk to him, console him, guide him, bring him back to normalcy.

And then we talked about so many medical and other aspirants who, after starting the preparation, take that as a larger than life aim. And how failing there repeatedly disturbs the mental make up of any person so badly. I hope our school system could do something to address this problem of 'taking things too seriously' or 'not accepting failure with ease'.

Another incident happened yesterday in office when I saw the SOPs of two MBA graduates of a reputed university in the country, which they had sent as a part of job application. To my utter dismay, in the name of SOPs, they had sent their resumes in a different file format. So when the MBA grads of such a big university don't know the meaning of SOP and didn't bother to or couldn't think of googling the word before sending it for a job application, I am left wondering what would be the condition of graduates in the shops mushrooming around us which sell MBA degrees!

And what makes me wonder is how we can upgrade the condition of education in our universities! What does it take to make a better university? And how does one get better teachers teaching at our colleges?

And the wondering goes on...................

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Oh No! I am Serious!

Those who know me well know that they cannot associate seriousness with me. I am never serious and will never be, not even if the ruling party decides to declare me as the running candidate for the next presidential elections. Or wait, did I say I am never serious? No, actually I am serious whenever I hear of somebody giving a chapo (treat) or free food being distributed anywhere. Apart from that, nothing can awake me from my laziness and sleepy mode. And I not only take things in my life casually, but also I speak very casually whenever I try to open my mouth (Opening my mouth is something which I try very often, if not to speak then to eat). I bet if anyone can point out a conversation when I was seriously talking and thinking before I spoke anything would get a free water bottle from me (because I can see many of them lying in front of me at this time, thanks to no kaamwali bai coming).

At times, I realize that this attitude of mine has helped me a lot at many places in life. Being non serious with life, career (remember, it's a 19th century innovation and I don't want one), or anything else has kept me at peace and prevented me from being mad, and running madly after things, recognition, money and what not. My non seriousness with speech has, at times, created problems as new acquaintances find it difficult to get along with what I say without realizing that I don't really mean what my words intend to mean. But in the longer run and with people who know me well, I get the freedom and liberty of speaking anything without thinking whether the person in front of me likes to hear that or not. At least I am assured that his or her feelings won't be hurt as he would not take my words seriously. Waise bhi, I think that everything around us in life is so serious that we need to be very light hearted and non serious about anything happening around to cope up.

Some of my friends say, that I am still a kid; not mature enough to understand the gravity of any situation, immature to understand how the big bad world behaves. But I see everything as a small incidence, a combination of thousands of which make up any life. Do I need to give a 'larger than life' importance to any of these tiny events? I am baffled and believe me, I am baffled seriously.

P.S. Happy Mother's Day! Thanks to my mother for teaching me the difference between good and bad; and giving me the strength to chose good over bad no matter how painful the process and the result might be. Thanks to my parents in general for taking care of me so well.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Dynamics of MBA

Today Chirag, yes the dude going to IIMA to do PGDM in June, told me that the fee for his two year course at the institute would be INR 14.5 lacs. Now that indeed is a bulky amount and generally, if you are not the son of a minister or husband of Queen Elizabeth, you will need to take a loan. Surprisingly the interest rates for education loan are very high in our country, and if the amount is as good as 14.5 lacs, one needs to pay an EMI of around 30k per month to wave off the loan. That is not very much, given that an average IIMA passout gets something around 65k (I guess so) per month to spend just after the college. So, an EMI of 30k looks very affordable. But this would not be the case if the student doesn't want to take up the high paying corporate job after his/her MBA and wants to experience life and do unconventional things, which don't pay too much. And what if the corporate life takes a toll on the individual and he/she is unable to bear the pressure and is in the state of crumbling down before the burden of EMI gets over?

And the whole system of EMI means that the entrepreneurial blood has to be pumped out of the body for at least five years after the college ends. And after five years, the family (wife and chunnu munnu) sucks the entrepreneurial blood out of one's system. And thus, one gets trapped cursing one's decision to do MBA and feeling sad at one's helplessness. This is what I was discussing with Sudhir when I met him last week, and this is what I think stops me from thinking about an MBA from IIMs. The silver lining is that the five year period of EMI may get reduced to two year if one gets a phoren placement but the chances of that are slim and still the two year period remains there to slog like a corporate ass.

MBA from a foreign institute poses the same problem, the only benefit is that it is easier to get a foreign placement there and thus, one gets out of the EMI web very soon.

Wondering how so many of the graduates started their own companies just after their IIM (or MBA) days!! Insights would be most welcomed! :-)

Monday, April 18, 2011

INDIANness Here & There

Two incidents happened yesterday and I was certainly not happy with the 'Indian way' people behaved in both the cases. The first one was in metro train when I was silently reading my novel (standing!). All of a sudden a guy from my back asked what I was reading. I told him the title of the book and the name of the author. Then he asked me about the story. I told him the brief synopsis too. Then he suggested a novel titled something like those of a soap opera these days (see, suggestions are so cheap here, everybody is distributing them for free and nobody is giving a job to this poor jobless soul). And to my disgust he even started narrating the story to me about how a guy meets a girl through sex chat or while watching online porn or something and how they were deeply in love after having a couple of rounds of phone sex and how my friend who was narrating the story was deeply touched by one single sentence of the girl where she confesses to the boy that he was only the seventh guy she had slept with. Okay this version of the conversation is a bit exaggerated by me but one can assume what situation I would have been while listening to the boring story of some Bollywood Masala Chhap novel. Further aggravating was the situation when he started asking about my educational background, the job I was doing/did, even the salary I used to get (Wow!). The only thing left, perhaps, was how many grandchildren I dream of having!! And after listening to my story, this guy again started fretting about what he is doing and what he wants to do, what factor is creating a hindrance in his plans of doing an MBA and what is the alternate path he is taking. I don't understand the reason for which people start sharing all this to complete strangers, without bothering about whether the later is interested in it or no! Sometimes, the need of talking and expressing one's feeling may be there but why is this need seems a priority while travelling only! Still trying to figure out the answer!

The other incident took place an hour after the above one. I had a telephonic interview scheduled between 11:30 am to 12:30 pm for the LAMP fellowship. I was all ready with my phone fully charged, earphones ready, and answers dancing in my head ready to be thrown out through mouth. But to my utter surprise, no call came between the given time interval (obviously Indian). I mailed them regarding this and they apologized citing for their 'running behind the schedule'. The same could have been done at the given time so that I could have spared the tension of waiting for the call. And to add to that, they called me up at around 2:45 pm asking to give the interview then. I was not at home and couldn't do that at that time. When I requested rescheduling, I was asked in details what I was doing for not being able to give the interview. I don't understand why was the interviewer so keen in knowing what exactly I was doing then (since you are an Indian, share everything about your life with me!). May be I was planning to murder someone but that is nobody's business. You were supposed to call me at a given time and you didn't. Now, why are you after what I am doing and how long will I take doing that?

I guess people realize that there is a personal space not to be intruded!

P.S. Heartiest congratulations to Chirag Agrawal. The dood is going to IIMA for grad school. Please drop by and congratulate him here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Of Reading and Life

I am reading 'Keep Off the Grass' by Karan Bajaj for the last couple of days. The book is nice (for the first hundred pages I have read) in the sense that it captures the dilemma of a well settled young professional trying to find his roots, his purpose for existence. And this leads him to quit his high paying investment banking job with Goldman Sachs in New York City and come to India to do an MBA at IIM Bangalore.

Since I have not read any book about a B-school, it is giving me a nice insight about what goes on in an Indian business school. But at the same time, I am not liking the way the writer has kept himself overly obsessed with IITians. There is one character called Sarkar (an IIT passout) who befriends our protagonist Samrat. Though the  IITian is only bothered about getting stoned and spitting lofty philosophical statements after that, he is shown so intelligent (mathematically) that he aces all the exams and is in the run for the Presidential Gold Medal. Is an IITian really so smart or the writer is actually so obsessed about the people studying there. Karan Bajaj has also mentioned 'IIT' a few times in his second novel 'Jonny Gone Down'.

I am also reading '1984' by George Orwell these days in parallel. Though the book requires more concentration owing to its heavy language and a serious topic (communism), it looks like an interesting read till now. But I am sure that I am going to be bored somewhere in between as I am never ever comfortable with the idea of anti-communism. Accepted that communism is a failed system of governance and most of the countries are done with it but I generally have a liking for it, given the nanga naach of Indian politicians.

Life is going normal otherwise. I am getting very lazy in the absence of  any definite agenda for the day. I think I need to get on to a job very soon before I start getting really bored sitting idle. But will a job be able to quench my thirst for meaningful existence? And finally what is a meaningful existence? Is it only a mirage, a delusion? Am I thinking a lot? Or is it better to learn to except this emptiness of meaning? I generally am!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Oh Life! You've got different faces!
Roses are there, but thorns also sing the song;
You bring both laughter and tears along.
You are a road and we, weary travelers,
With love or hate make it smooth or rough.
You seem to be but are not very tough.
Sorrow may come before joy
But that's only thing that makes it sweeter.
The only message you give us is
To spread peace and more of bliss!

P.S. This poem was written in 2004 when I was a Class 11 student. The task was to write a poem with a particular set of words and I came up with what is written above.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tum Bihari Ho Na

This post should have come about a week ago at least but call it my laziness or the blame it on the World Cup or Poonam Pandey that it took so long. However, even though I am late, I am here to unveil another face life had shown me a few days ago. While coming to Delhi on last Tuesday i.e. 29th March, I had a verbal fight with a family sharing my train compartment. The reason was simple, they wanted to sleep during the daytime and wanted me to go to my berth and sleep as well. I refused and this led to the quarrel. Generally, I avoid such things while travelling, but this almost around 60 man and his wife and his daughter looked too haughty to me and I decided not to 'cooperate' with them.

So, when I refused to change my place and go to upper berth, this family started shouting at me and called up the TTE. The TTE, as the rules say, took my side. And then the family started taking it all on my 'Bihari' culture. "Lagta hai tum Bihar se aaye ho. Yahi culture hai tumhara? Itne din ho gaye mujhe travel karte huye, kabhi aisa koi nahi mila tumhare jaisa. Train me gunda gardi karte ho tum. Mera bhi beta tumhare hi itna bada hai, wo to aisa nahi hai." (It seems you have come from Bihar. Is this your culture? I have been travelling for so many days but never seen anyone like you. You behave badly in train. My son is also of your age but he is so cooperating.). The uncle now intimidated me by citing his all important and powerful contacts in Lucknow. I don't understand a few points here:

  • How can someone from eastern UP accuse a Bihari of being uncultured?
  • They should have requested me as they were asking for a favour, yet they forced me. Still, they call themselves cultured??!!!!
  • The three of them were shouting about my culture as if shouting will wash away everything bad about my culture and show that they are more cultured?
  • Talking about contacts in Lucknow made them very cultured?
  • If a fellow Bihari doesn't agree to all your whims at any place, you start taking it out on the Bihari culture?

People are going to have stereotypes about Biharis, I agree but they should also think before they are speaking or doing anything. And this incident has strengthened my stereotype about the 'self believed importance and intelligence' of people around Lucknow.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I Wish I Could

This happened last Wednesday and the moment it happened I thought of giving it a place on my blog page. There was this guy called Rajeev at Nirmaan office. In the first site, he was a usual high school boy, though he looked somewhat older in age and was very shy in speaking. He had come with his brother and wanted to get admission in Nirmaan Classes. Manish Sir started talking to him and all his replies were quite and shy. And then through the conversation, I came to know that he had failed the CBSE class 12 exams twice (2009 and 2010) and this year too, he didn't hope to pass the exams. And the reason for his low self confidence, shy replies and downward looking eyes became very clear to me. It is really difficult for anyone to face and go through this kind of mental pressure and we cry about our boring jobs, slow progress at office, intolerable boss and what not!

It was clear to Rajeev that he just wanted to pass his board exams and wanted to get admission into DU, doing something in Computer Science. But Manish Sir was constantly forcing him to choose engineering over his dreams of getting into DU, constantly giving the tender mind the fear of future. DU se Comp Sc karke kya karoge? Engineering k bina koochh nahi kar paaoge!

During the conversation, I came to know that Rajeev was a good student in Class 10 and then after that, he lost interest in studies and stopped studying at all. I immediately thought that the problem lied here and started inquiring him about what lead to this disinterest. He told that he got interest in playing cricket and used to run away from classes to play cricket. Further, I asked him about the marks he obtained in different subjects, which made the picture more clear for me. His scorecard in class 10 looked like this:

English: 90
Hindi: 86
Mathematics: 76
Science: 78
Social Sciences: 84

By looking at the marks, Manish Sir later told me that he was just an okay kid. But I still differ on this. Someone who gets almost 83% in 10th board is not okay, but he is good. The problem was that he was just okay in Maths and Science but brilliant in language and social studies.

Through our conversation, I learnt that he liked watching television sitcoms, National Geographic, reading newspaper and was more updated on Libya front than anyone of his age. The ailment became clear, the only problem was that the patient was not visiting the right therapist. Engineering was not the cup of tea for him, rather he should have tried to become a journalist, or done something in mass communication. Even a regular literature graduation would have served him good, but not engineering. Anything, but not engineering.

And when Manish Sir convincing his about being an engineer, I wanted to shout "Engineering is not for you. Don't get admitted here. Go, do something good for your life! And if you don't know how, I will help you do it".

But alas, I couldn't say anything and had to witness one energetic student getting into the yoke of cruel engineering career! I wish I could do something for him!

Monday, March 21, 2011


She has gone for her new life
Amongst the mountains and lonely trees,
To accompany them which they needed,
For getting the same, to God, they pleaded.
She is shining with the mountain sunshine
Spreading the golden beauty all around.
She is falling with the rain
Filling the lakes and pains.
She is blowing with the wind
Providing a soothing effect at the end.
She is flying with the birds
Spreading the message of peace and love.

She is there with the stars,
Bid her 'Good Morning', not 'Good Bye'.

P.S. This was the second poem I ever wrote. The first one was submitted as a class assignment and is lost forever. So, this is my first 'available' poem. It was written when I was in Class 11 and was getting bored sitting in the library of my school. It is of fourteen lines which makes it a sonnet. The last two lines are separated from the earlier twelve lines like an 'English (Shakespearean) Sonnet'. However, it doesn't follow the rhyme scheme of any kinds of sonnet and is written in free verse.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Thoughtful Me

Indian trains are the places where you get to meet a lot of people, all of different kind; have to bear with a lot of chit-chat, chilla milli, crying children, vendors selling whatever possible and what not! Sometimes (and that number is very few for someone like me, and when I am travelling in Bihar and that too in a second class compartment), you meet people you want to talk to. Sometimes the reason is you think you can talk to the person about something interesting and know about a different world or a different field or something new otherwise, and sometimes a conversation builds up which you find interesting and want to continue.

Yesterday was one such day when I landed upon a conversation which I found somewhat interesting. I was coming from Patna to my home when I met this guy sitting in front of me in the general compartment which was almost full, okay more than almost full but obviously not crowded when you define it in terms of Indian standards. So, this guy, sitting in front of me, got a little agitated when the train stopped in some jungle like area due to signal problem, which is as common as Mallika Sherawat wearing a bikini on a sea beach. But as the train stopped, this guy made a face as if he had seen Om Puri getting nude in front of me (I can also understand the effect caused by the heat inside the, lets say, semi-crowded compartment). Looking at him getting too much troubled, I asked casually about where he was going. I guess he was just waiting for someone to break the ice of silence so that he could spread the news of his recently earned promotion, and hence transfer, as if his wife got pregnant after at least a hundred trails by him. :-P So, as he told me, after asking about my whereabouts, that he was promoted as a scale 1 officer in Bank of Baroda and was transferred to Lucknow. I then casually asked him about his job(something which I do with everyone in a job, just to satisfy my sadist mind that the person is also suffering in his job and hating it as much as I did during Surya days ;-) :-P). What he told me was again a cribbing about one's job but it let to a couple of thoughts in my mind (see how thoughtful I am). He told that he is not very happy with his job as it is too demanding and he has to stay in office more than the stipulated working hours. And I thought about how can people shy away from their work and think of earning money by working less. But then I thought that I probably would have said the same thing if I were in his place. Most of the people do jobs which they are not interested in. But they have to do it as there is nothing else they can do. Many don't know what else to do and many don't have the courage to do anything else.

And then I asked him that if the workload is too much, why doesn't the Bank (of Baroda) recruit more employees? He told that this would escalate the costs and it would not be beneficial for the organisation. And I guess this is true for every government department in the country. Less employees and more work! I guess this is true for all the private organisations as well. Cost cutting is done at the cost of enthusiasm and working capacity of employees. There always should be a work life balance especially if the job is not exciting and even if the job is too exciting. Probably only then any organisation could retain employees or earn the goodwill of employees. Now I have not done enough research on whether increasing the number of employees will put the organisation in loss, but not increasing it certainly leads to lesser productivity and lesser satisfaction in employees and hence losses in intangible form!

He also spoke of the career in academics in very high regards. 'Being a professor is very comfortable', he told me, 'and I have given the NET exam to apply for the post of professorship in universities'. I asked, 'Why don't you apply to universities then?'. Again he sited the problem of universities not releasing vacancies and carrying on with less number of professors. I had heard of the IITs not recruiting new faculty despite cribbing about the scarcity of teachers.

This guy again told the workload is more because of old employees, who don't want to learn the modern practices giving the reason that they are about to retire and don't need to learn anything else. And hence, the younger ones have to do extra work. Obviously, the burden of the country's growth is to be shared by the young shoulders only. But I wonder how the oldies of today blame the youth for anything bad happening around them.

So, remember you old fellow with white beard and poor eyesight, we are the ones who are building the country and you are the one cribbing about us because you are frustrated with your unsatisfied life!! Are you listening?

Wishing everybody a very Happy Holi! May more and more colors get added to your lives!! :-)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The King's Dilemma

I was thinking to write this post ever since I saw ‘The King’s Speech’ last week. Call me a lazy bum for not writing it till now par ki fark padta hai ji, der aaye durust aaye ;-) !! Chalo, to phir kaam ki baat.....matlab movie ki baat kare. The movie is good, in fact awesome, like all the British movies. And Colin Firth has added grace to the character of Prince Albert, Duke of York and later His Majesty King George VI. The part played by Geoffrey Rush (as Lionel Logue) is equally graceful.

There is a scene in the movie where Prince Albert, after ascending to the Royal Throne, comes to his residence where his family, his wife and two daughters, are preparing to shift to the Royal Palace. And then when he reaches near his daughters, instead of coming running to him calling “Papa”, they bow and stand in respect uttering “Your Majesty”. Somehow, I felt the scene to be very touching. It must be very difficult for the king at that moment to accept the sudden change in the behaviour of his loving daughters. All of a sudden, the burden of the royal robe would have become too much. And I think it is again very difficult to handle a lot of responsibility if it comes to you all of a sudden and unannounced.

Also I think that it’s not easy being a King. All of us, especially girls (remember 'I wish to be a princess' dream?), wish that we were born in some Royal Family. After all, who doesn’t want to be treated royally? But being born as a Royal has its own limitations. With the birth of a Royal child, certain Royal duties and obligations are made for him/her curtailing the freedom of the later. Perhaps, that is why some of the Royals prefer to keep a low public profile. And sometimes, minor looking problems create havoc for the Royal personages like stammering was one of the deadliest problem and a matter of shame for King George VI.

This reminds me of the happiness endowed with the middle state, as explained by Daniel Defoe in the classic ‘Robinson Crusoe’:
that mine was the middle state, or what might be called the upper station of the low life, which he had found by long experience was the best state in the world, the most suited to human happiness, the labour and sufferings, of the mechanic part of mankind, and not embarrassed with the pride, luxury, ambition, and envy of the upper part of mankind. He told me I might judge the happiness of this state by this one thing, viz., that this was the state of life which all other people envied; that kings have frequently lamented the miserable consequences of being born to great things, and wished they had been placed in the middle of the two extremes, between the mean and the great; that the wise man gave his testimony to this as the just standard of true felicity, when he prayed to have neither poverty or riches.”

Once again, I feel extremely lucky to be born in a middle class family.


Chalte Chalte: Ever wondered, what is the feminine of ‘King’? Right, it’s ‘Queen’. So, the masculine of ‘Queen’ must be ‘King’? Well not always, the husbands of the queens regnant generally don’t share their wives’ ranks. That is why, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II is called Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and not King Philip.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Little Miss Sunshine

Though it’s a ‘road trip’ movie but it is quite unlike the others of its genre. While such (road trip) movies are aimed at showing the fun encountered during a road trip, ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ shows a trip which brings the members of a family together wiping out the differences among them, and at the same time an eye opener for some of them. However what interests me is the following piece of dialogue between two of its characters, Dwayne (played by Paul Dano) and his uncle Frank (played by Steve carell):

Dwayne: Sometimes l just wish l could go to sleep till l was 18, and skip all this crap, high school and everything. Just skip it.

Steve: You know Marcel Proust?

Dwayne: He's the guy you teach.

Steve: Yeah. French writer. Total loser. Never had a real job. Unrequited love affairs. Gay. Spent 20 years writing a book almost no one reads, but he's also probably the greatest writer since Shakespeare. Anyway, he...he gets down to the end of his life, and he looks back and decides that all those years he suffered, those were the best years of his life, cos they made him who he was. All the years he was happy, you know, total waste. Didn't learn a thing. So, if you sleep until you're 18...Think of the suffering you're gonna miss. I mean, high school? Those are your prime suffering years. You don't get better suffering than that.

Dwayne: You know what? Fuck beauty contests. Life is one fucking beauty contest after another: you know, school, then college, then work. Fuck that. And fuck the Air Force Academy. lf I wanna fly, I'll find a way to fly. I mean, you do what you love, and fuck the rest.

Steve: I’m glad you're talking again, Dwayne. You're not nearly as stupid as you look. Wanna go back?

Dwayne: Not really. [Pause] Yeah, we should go back.

Nice Conversation. Ain’t it?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Friends & Friendship

For the past couple of days, I was thinking to write this post but had been a bit busy (and lazy too). For some reasons the idea of friendship is not leaving my mind for the past few days. Why do we become friends? And why are friends needed? What leads to great friendship? How do we define great friendship?

After thinking a lot, what I conclude is that it’s again a matter of the old ‘Demand-Supply’ equation. The only difference is that the demand and supply here are at emotional and psychological levels and not at the material level. We generally need something from our friends and in turn supply something the later needs, and this leads to the basic friendship equation.

And perhaps this is the reason we choose our friends and don’t accept ‘anyone’ who comes our way. When we are kids, our chuddy-buddies are the ones with whom we enjoy the most playing, getting soiled, shouting and screaming. Here also, there is a lot of choices made by kids. Every kid is not happy playing the childish games with every other kid. When we start going to school, we again make choices based on our needs, may be the need is to have a company while coming or going to school, or that of sharing the lunch box, or even academic needs.

When we come to college, the ones included in our friend circles are the guys with whom we like to have fun or share our thoughts. Yes, there are other reasons too which lead us to make friends at the college level like complementary skills for various activities to be carried out together. Later, after college, our friends are those with whom we can share the chaos of our lives and from whom we expect great solace.

Man (and woman too) is a social animal and needs others of same species to live a contented life. As we are getting into the culture of moving into joint families and leaving homes for work or study, we need more and more friends around us to take care of us, to pull us out of difficulties and to make us feel their soothing presence at the times of need. And perhaps this is why our friends become our extended family at a later stage in life.

So, I guess, great friends are those who satisfy many of our needs with less resistance and make us feel better than others. They are the ones who don’t think us to be fools when we behave like complete idiots. And at times, love our complete idiotic behaviour as well. They are the ones in front of whom we are comfortable enough to reveal our true selves and they love us for what we truly are.

So, can it be concluded that friends are made to fulfil some of the needs at different points in our lives? Well, I think though friends do this work of catering to the needs to friends but I would refrain from terming it ‘attachment for need’ partnership. Let us leave the human nature the way it is. And keep making friends and loving them. :-)

P.S. Happy Valentine Day! May the great saint’s soul rest in peace!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Why should I Buy a Ticket?

Actually this post should have been titled “Where should I buy a ticket?” instead of ‘Why’. But since the location is not defined, how can the reason be.

Anyway, my latest angst is over the pathetic situation of Indian Railways which gets worsened every day despite soaring revenues and claims by honourable railway ministers. A few days back, I was returning from Delhi and had a booking in H Nizamuddin – Rajendra Nagar Garib Rath. So, I got down at Patna Jn. and went to the ticket booking counter to get another ticket to home. But when I entered the ticket booking complex, I was for forced to believe that the actual population of India is not around 1.20 billion but actually three times that number. The lines were so long that I was almost sure to miss my train in order to get a ticket. What I couldn’t understand was why more than half of the booking counters were closed. And then as I stood thinking about what to do, a person approached me and offered to buy a ticket after taking 20 rupees as his commission. I refused and got to the end of a line which, as I later found out, was barely moving. The ticket booking clerk was moving his hands as he was learning to type. Moreover, he also didn’t hesitate getting up for sipping tea or even drinking water. And then all of a sudden, I heard the announcement about my train arriving on platform number 2. I went to the booking counter, requested a man buying ticket to get a ticket for me as well explaining him my situation. But again, the booking in charge refused to give another ticket to him despite pleading by me.

As I was moving out of the booking complex, I thought of asking an old man standing at the senior citizen counter to buy a ticket for me again explaining to him what plight I was in. I thought he would be kind and listen to my situation and understand it but to my utter dismay, he was rude and refused me bluntly. And we are taught to respect the aged people and treat them well!! Our social values need to be restructured soon. The young population should be given more credits for its helping tendency, patience and what not.

With the idea of undertaking a bus journey, I moved out of the station. And then, I again thought of talking to the TTE in the train and asking whether he could do something. I went running to the platform 2 and see if the train was still standing there. It was there. I found the TTE and told him the story. And what he told pleased me like anything. He said that he could make an extended ticket even if I had not bought any. And thus, I returned home learning new lessons about life and travelling.

However, this ticket problem is not new with railways. Similar kind of long queues are there for Mumbai Suburban tickets. And I have even witnessed the booking clerk refusing a person refusing him ticket after about half an hour of wait because it 12:30 pm and the clerk got up for lunch. Though railways are the cheapest and best means of transport in the country in many parts but still its condition is degrading every day. Trains are becoming overcrowded, coaches are becoming dirty and the speed is getting lower every day. Something needs to be done urgently so that commuting doesn’t become a pain.

Ms Bannerjee, listening?

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Small Conversation

This conversation happened with me last Friday when I was travelling from Dalsinghsarai (my hometown) to Rosera. I was sitting on the aisle seat of the bus and the bus was overcrowded as all the buses running in and around my area are. And then at some village stop, the person sitting near me, i.e. the one sitting on the middle seat, got off the bus. And at the same time an old lady got into the bus with her bag full of something and which looked very heavy. Since she could not get inside with that seat, she asked me to shift to the middle seat. Without thinking even for a second I did that. After some time I took my hands on my right pocket to make sure my mobile phones are there intact (Thanks to a lot of travels in Delhi Metro, I have got into the habit of checking for my wallet and cell phone whenever I am in a crowded area). And at this time the person (Let’s call him Mr Window) occupying the window seat speaks:

Mr Window: Hum nachne gaane wale log hain. Aisa kaam nahi karenge. Aisa kaam karenge to hamara program dekhega koi stage par? (We are the people who dance and sing. We won’t do suck work. If we do this thing, would anyone watch my program on stage.)

Me (after being quiet for a moment and feeling embarassed): Achcha, kya kaam karte hain aap? (So what do you do?)

Mr Window: Ladies ka kaam karte hain stage par. Gaana gaate hain program me. (I work as a lady. I sing on stage during programs.)

Me: Kahan se hain aap? (Where are you from?)

Mr Window: Waise to hum Deoria me rehte hain, par abhi Rosera ja rahe hain program karne. (Though I live in Deoria but I am going to Rosera now for a program)

Me: Ghar Dalsinghsarai hai kya? (Your hometown is Dalsinghsarai?)

Mr Window: Nahi, Dalsinghsarai hamara nanihaal hai. Kabhi kabhi aate hain yahan pe. (No, My maternal uncles and grandparents live in Dalsinghsarai. I come here sometimes.)

Me: Kahan se seekhe gaana? (where did you learn singing?)

Mr Window: Ye to Saraswati ka aashirwad hai. Ghar pe hi seekhe. Mere pitaji mere guru hain. Pitaji bhi yahi kaam karte the. Ab wo nahi karte, sirf gate pe baithte hain program k time. (This is the blessing of Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. My father is my teacher. He used to do the same thing. Now he doesn’t do it, only sits at the gate during a program. )

Me: 1 program karne ka kitna paisa mil jata hai? (How much do you earn from one program?)

Mr Window: 850 milta hai humko 1 program karne ka. (Rs 850 for 1 Program.)

Me: Aur mahine me kitne din program karte hain? (How many programs do you do in a month?)

Mr Window: Arey 1 bhi din khali nahi milta hai. (I don’t get rest even for a day.)

And then to keep the conversation going, I talked to him about SPIC MACAY IIT Roorkee Chapter, and talked about a few artists who had visited our college. Though he said, he knew them but I think he didn’t. Or maybe he did. But what make me think are the following points:

  • The person earns almost 25k a month. Why did he have that tone as if he was having some kind of inferiority complex?
  • He called his singing ‘Saraswati ka aashirwad’. So, why did he term it as ‘ladies ka kaam’ as if it was some very mean work?
  • And if money is everything (as I see by the attitude of people around me), what is wrong with doing this work even that people like him have to feel infereior?

And I am still thinking!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Have You been to A Village?

India is shining! Of course it is but only for those living in the multi storied apartments in Mumbai or who shop in the biggest of malls of Gurgaon. Yes, we are moving towards faster means of communication, latest mobile and web technologies, imported cars, watches and everything but coming out of the metro circle and one would find a very big contrast. And a similar contrast striked me when I visited a sleepy village called Mahe Singhia and the palces around in my own district a few of days ago.

Getting to Mahe itself was a big achievement as the buses from the nearest town Rosera take almost 70-80 minutes to cover a distance of about 17-18 kilometres on a highly bumpy road. I had the real feel of true India in the bus itself which was overcrowded with almost two and half times its actual capacity. And one could see a large number of people occupying seats on the roof of the bus too. And the conductor jumped through the window to collect the money. And all I could remember was the opening scene from the movie Peepli [Live] where the character Natha vomits out of suffocation in an overcrowded auto.

However, after sitting in such a condition for about an hour, I reached a place called Dudhwara from where I was picked up on a motorcycle to tour the villages. And it was when an interesting journey into the village life started.

One of the villages I visited was Dengrahi in Singhia village panchayat area. Located on the banks of Baghmati, the village gets flooded every year during the monsoons. Away from the nearest railway station Nayanagar by at least 10 km and inhabited by the people comprising of both forward and backward castes, the village still holds on to a rigid caste structure as far as education is concerned. The students of the village are ill treated not only by the forward caste students who come to the school but also by the teachers who are teaching. The Dalit students are beaten up by the Brahmin boys if they attend the school.

Here, the help and support from Asha comes as a real boon for the poor backward children. Managed by the Asha volunteer Mr Manoj Sahu along with three other teaches, the organization is trying its level best to bring lower caste children to the schools. They also run a center in the village where they impart education to these children and have taken several steps to bring them to school including counselling for parents and coordinating with the local Aanganbadi Kendra.

Despite these continuous efforts, the problems are never ending. The parents are unwilling to send the children to school after the age of 10-12 as they don’t see a benefit in formal studies. Even after studying up to a certain standard, there is no guarantee of a decent work other than what they are doing and hence, children are then sent to work in farms, brick factories and even to other states so that they can support the family income.

But I guess, their fathers must be getting good enough amount for working as labours in farms or any other places. So, why do they send the children to work?” I asked Manoj ji. And what he replied showed one of the saddest scenes of rural life in the state and the country as a whole. “They do earn good amount, in fact very good amount which is complemented if the mother is earning too but generally half of the money is gone in liquors which leads to financial problems.” And at times, the local country-made liquors even kill a person in thirties and the child has to go to work in order to support the family.

Moreover, this habit of tobacco and liquor is again infused in the children as well. I met some children in Gonwara (another village where Asha is working) who used to collect cigarette butts and used to smoke them. Some even stole money here and there for buying bidis or ganja. Despite all this, many children knew how to use mobile phones and navigate around the mobile softwares. Strange, ain’t it?

In Gonwara, I met the mothers of some children who could understood the importance of education for children (Thanks to the efforts put in by the Asha volunteers ) but were helpless because there is only one government run school in the radius of 2-3 kms and that too is dominated by the forward caste teachers and children. The only hope for them lies in their Manoj Sir (the Asha volunteer) to open up an Asha center soon for them.

On one hand, we get tired of browsing through the designer shirts, t shirts, sweat shirts, jeans and other clothes to get one of our choice, the children in these villages put on whatever they get, and at times are happy wearing the dirtiest of clothes. One would think them to be rustic and uncultured (as I thought while sitting in the bus in the morning and frowning at the villagers), but would come to know their real conditions only after spending some time with them.

However, a lot is being done by Asha Parivaar and its volunteers so that these children learn to remain clean and look good but a lot still remains to be done. Hope Asha Parivaar continues to burn the light of hope!!