Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Taking the responsibility

( TC in the below text, refers to Ticket Checker)

I don't remember exactly how old I was, maybe in early teens. We had gone for vacations to uncles house, and it was time to come back. Unfortunately we did not have confirmed reservations, and we were supposed to get in to the compartment and fend for ourselves. But such things never bothered me, because parents were to take care of all this, and we just did what they told us to.

But this time was little different, dad was not there. Mom, my two sisters, my aunts, and her two daughters, in all seven of us. My uncle who had come to drop us at station, did quite a bit of work, talking to TC, and going and trying to find a ticket but from the looks of it, it appeared that he was unsuccessful.

I was there, least bothered about all this,  when my uncle summoned me. He took me little away from everyone and he gave me a 500 rupee note,

"Listen", he said " If TC cribs or says anything just give him this money",
I had always seen people giving money to traffic policemen, to TC, but never before I had done it all by myself. Growing up we always knew that we were supposed to give money and it resolved everything. But I wonder if we ever bothered to think that it was bribe, and it was wrong. I guess it was just a way of life, and that is how we learnt to deal with situations.
"But how much should I give him, and what should I say?", I asked, being visibly tensed, and I was wondering why was he not giving this job to Mom.

"You don't have to say anything, just give him the money, and things will be fine" he said,

I was still thinking about what to do, and if I should go and tell Mom about this,
but then my uncle added,
"See your dad is not there, and now you should learn to take care of everyone",

No one had said such thing to me before. Did my uncle really think that I had grown up, and I could handle things better than my Mom and aunt. I really felt very bullish, I felt big, specially now with 500 rupee note in the pocket. I was hoping he had given me change, so that I could keep some for myself, and give only some to TC. But probably I could get the change from somewhere before the train arrived. There was also this little fear of what how I would handle part with TC, and what should I tell Mom about it. What if Mom intervened? I schemed that I should find the TC, before everyone, and settle the issues with him, before even anyone could find out, how proud Mom would feel,  but would Mom allow me to roam about in the train looking for TC? probably not. Some other way had to be thought of.

I spend rest of the time before the train arrived thinking about all this. Train was very late that day and it arrived past midnight, but it did not matter to me because I had lots of things to think of.

When the train arrived, we got in to it,  and found some empty berths and settled there, hoping that no one would come up. Uncle waved us good bye, and gave me one special encouraging glance. 

As soon as the train started to move, Mom and aunt wasted no time, in settling everything in the empty berth, all the luggage and even us, all of us on two berths. The idea was to catch some sleep, and make it impossible for someone to push us out of the berth. it was funny how everyone was settled in the space of two berths. Mom was adamant that we all sleep, but I had mission to accomplish. My head was still thinking fast and thinking a lot. But nothing seemed like a great idea, I waited and waited, and did not realise when did I fall asleep.

"Wake up wake up", my Mom was shouting. "We have to get down",
"Did the TC come?" I asked Mom
"First get off the train" she said,

I realised that it was almost afternoon and we had reached the destination. But what happened to the TC? Did he not come? But of course he would have come. And probably as always Mom and aunt had dealt with the TC? Probably they paid money, or they cribbed and did something. I was upset and shocked. What had I done? I had happily gone to asleep. Missed my chance to do something.

Well I still don't know what happened that night. I only remember that I avoided talking to that uncle for quiet sometime. I did not want him to ask him as to what happened. Probably Mom had already told him everything, and I was embarrassed to face him.

For all the schemes that I had thought of I did not even get my 500 rupees. The note was found by my Mom in my pocket while washing clothes. 'Where did you get it from?" She asked.
"Uncle gave me " I said
" Why?"
"Just like that", of course I did not want to tell her about my mission in which I had failed miserably.
"You should never take money from anyone, without asking us, I will return it to him" she said. And she kept the money with herself.

But the only thing which I remember very clearly and is still fresh in my mind, were my uncle's words, "since your dad is not there, you should take care of everyone". I had started looking at myself differently. Some where that thought was born that I need to step up and take some responsibility.

Yes after all, it was time to do grown up things.

Monday, September 06, 2010

The day when I grew up

It was the 8th class vacation I think. Every vacation we used to go to my mom's native place and stay there for about a month. Lot of my uncles used to stay there and it was like a big colony, where there were about 30 kids and amazing fun. But it was a strange time, because all of sudden you felt too old to play games like Dabba Gul, pakadam Padki, and you were not get good enough to play cricket and ended up being made the 12th man, or being laughed at. But this vacation we found something nice to do.

One of my uncles had a cloth shop, and this vacation one of my cousins and myself, thought that it was time for us to leave all these boyhood things and go to the shop and learn something. The shop generally used to open at 9:30, and it became a craze for us to go to the shop at 9 in the morning, and open the shop ourselves. We had about five salesmen in shop and they used to arrive and greet us warmly and kindly and happily. In morning any ways there were no customers, so it was ok. It made us feel very important, we felt that we were giving uncle luxury of coming to the shop a little later. For that half an hour we were the kings, and we managed the entire shop, though it was hardly ever that any customer walked in to the shop at that time, and any ways the salesmen used to take care of them. But we sat behind the counter, and looked over the street feeling very important, ordering some tea and something to eat from the nearby shop, and discussing all kinds of imaginary scenarios of how we would deal with customers and make a good deal. This continued till uncle arrived, at 9:30, and then customers would start coming. By 10:30 the shop would become over crowded and then we used to just sit in one corner and observe everything, so that we can become good enough to be part of the action.
At noon we used to have lunch in the shop itself, there was some thrill in eating lunch under the counter in the cramped place, and eating it fast along with uncle so that we can get to see the customers again very soon.
We used to go home at about four in the evening, with the feel of having accomplished something. Also during the dinner time, other uncles and aunties would praise us saying how good and disciplined boys we were growing up to be.

This went on for few days, until came the Sunday. Well it did make the life very difficult, because one thing which I thoroughly enjoyed was Jungle book on Doordarshan. And going to the shop at nine meant that I would need to miss that. That was too much the sacrifice to pay for growing up. . I loved Jungle book, and I had never missed a single episode of it, except when there were catastrophes like power failure or such things, which also resulted in me being in bad mood for a long time afterwards. I talked to my cousin about it, but he said that it will not look appropriate to tell everyone that we did not want to go to the shop because we wanted to watch the Jungle book. So we had to decide, we could not also fall sick because, both of us cant be sick at the same time, and we wanted to be together in either of decisions. So we went to the shop, and hoped that in some adjacent shop there might be some TV, but it was not there. After sometime I dropped the entire thought of seeing Jungle book, and started taking keen interest in the proceedings inside the shop.

I wanted to be tough, and in my mind I had started believing that I had grown up. I decided that this was the end of Jungle book, and all such stuff, and it was time to do more grown up things and make your presence felt among people.

It became 10am and uncle still did not arrive at the shop, we had an extended time at the counter. The shop sales were managed by the salesman. Uncle did not come until, about 11in the morning.
"What happened, why so late?" I asked him
"Oh I was watching Jungle book" he said .

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Little Gesture

Few of the days I go to office by bus. BMTC recently has done a amazing job of introducing new buses and bus routes and the public transport is not bad at all in Bangalore.

In Bangalore if take a bus at about 8-9AM in morning, school and college going kids form the major part of commuters. So yesterday when I was travelling I saw this two boys standing near the door, not that the bus was full, but I know these boys always stand at the door. In late teens, who look very light hearted and enjoying the fresh breeze, and probably the freedom that they might have got by entering the college from the tight regiment of school. They were full of life and totally careless.

Somehow I have never carried a great impressions of people standing next to door, I felt they always seemed to do it to check out girls and show off. But this impressions carried only till the next bus stand. As soon as bus stand came they would got out of the bus, and stood at each side of the door. As soon as Children would come to the last step to disembark the bus they would pick them up and make them jump, helping them with their bags and lunch bags and water bags. Kids would smile and they would love it. I can imagine, because I remember when I was young, I would hate the last step in bus, which would generally be significantly at bigger height, and if the bus moved slightly there was a fear of falling.

This activity was repeated at every bus stand that came, and they seemed to do it as if it was part of their job. They were converting a morning heavy polluted traffic bus ride of Bangalore in to a light, wonderful, full of smiles bus ride.

That made my day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Where there are no locks

I have been out of blog for quite sometime, even I had stopped reading blogs for quite sometime, somehow the days have just been going away and going on but there are so many things to say and write about.

I have been travelling and reading a lot, I read yet another book from William Darlymple called, nine lives, in search of the sacred in modern India, another of his book which I really enjoyed reading, do grab a copy of it if you get a chance. I am getting to know so many things about India from his books, which I never got to know growing up.

So here is one of my travel story as well,
It is about last year when i was travelling to Adilabad. From the map of India Adilabad, falls in that part of map, where news channels normally mark as a Naxalite area. We were little sceptical, but we had heard from lot of our other friends who had been in such areas that individuals seldom have problems in Naxalite areas, generally there is always fighting between the government and Naxalite (the recent news is the new development).

The train journey to Adilabad itself was quite interesting, met few people who told us interesting stories. We were very sceptical and very careful about our luggage and were putting locks and chains, and so on when this discussion about locking and theft started. The guy sitting next to us told us the story about this village Shani Singanapore, where there are no locks. Apparently people believe that if you steal from here then you will not be able to get out of the village, something bad will happen to you, like a snake bite or something. I have heard such stories before, and this one particularly, and as it always happens I thought that it might be true at some point in the past and now things would have change drastically.

Well this episode ended, and we reached adilabad, next day morning, ofcourse not before I had had this another interesting conversation with Naga Sadhu.
Adilabad is a super small town, clean, hot, quiet, suvar rickshaws, slow and peaceful. We were supposed to stay with this one very amazing person called Guruji Ravinder Sharma, (will write about him some other day). Temporarily we were asked to put our bags in a small art room kind of place, which was beautiful but no doors, and little did I know that it was going to be where we were going to stay for few days. Every day all our samaan used to lie scattered, camcorder, phone getting charged, and everything. Further the house was next to the road and Guruji never locked the compound gate as well.

"Yahan se chori karke kaun kahan jayega" Guruji said.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The case of a smelling shoe

Something was stinking, the other day when I had just come to office. It was bad, I ignored it for sometime, but then every now and then, my senses reminded me that it was stinking. Something from down, was it the shoe? What else could stink in office. There were three people in the office, the other two were sitting together and working on some problem, am sure they were also feeling the same, but guess it was too embarrassing to point to someone that the shoe was stinking so everyone was quiet.

My shoes don't ever stink, at least that is what I always thought. But was it the other two people, I did not know.
I remember the last time I had been faced with such a smell was way back in hostel. Somehow from somewhere an insurance agent had come and his shoes were terribly terribly stinking. Today the smell was not that strong, but still it was bad, specially in the corporate office.

I wanted to ensure that my shoe was not smelling, so making it look very natural I just dropped my pen and bent down and ooopss... the right leg was stinking. It was bad. The more embarrassing thought was that I had been running around at couple of customer locations in the morning giving some marketing presentations and all that with this stinking shoes, But I had not realised that in morning, probably because I was fully absorbed. Probably someone would have tried to suggest me, but I would not have never paid any attention.

Well I don't know what you do in this kind of situations, I thought for possible solution, did not want to be caught washing the shoe in the loo. Finally decided that it was enough and I should call it a day, and should leave office, before giving a chance to anyone to tell me that my shoes were stinking. Thought would reach home early, get rid of the shoes and then send them off for washing or whatever treatment they required.

When I reached home rather early at four, and I removed my shoes to examine it, I noticed a big chunk of Cow Dung, that was smeared on the bottom of my right shoe.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

When they built the dam.....

This is the story about this young man, name I do not know. He was not the kinds that would form the characters of the books or the kinds that were portrayed in the movies. He was a simple man, and he lived in a small village near the Narmada valley, almost at the border of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Life consisted mainly of going to forest and tending to small farm, the needs were not many, everything was got locally, and apparently till some years back the only thing that used to come from the city was salt.

He owned a small piece of land, which he spent most of his time tending to. His life appeared to be set, he was just stepping in to manhood and he already had found a girl for himself. Girl happened from the adjacent village which was about 15km away, walk was the only way to go. He had fallen in love with her, at the small stream which flowed near their village, and merged in to Narmada. Love marriages were not very unknown in the community and infact they were encouraged. So he was looking forward to the beautiful life to come, not aware of the huge calamity that was to fall on his head.

So as it happened, he realized that his village was one of the three villages identified in Gujarat which was to be submerged into the Narmada dam which was going to be built. He did not know much about the Dam and he did not understand much, other than the fact that it would produce Bijli, something that always filled him with wonder and amazement, something which he had seen in cities when he had traveled and something which he yearned for. He was supposed to get some money, there was confusion, so much of money looked attractive, but he could not fully figure out why was he asked to be moved from a place where he had stayed for ages. In the confusion he had also realized that the girls father had rejected his proposal for marriage. Girls father could not marry his daughter to someone whose future was uncertain. He was too confused to fight back, too uncertain to make any claims. Things were changing rapidly, and he was not able to keep pace with the change.

One year down the line, nothing remained same for him. He found himself in completely different world. He lost his land for some money. Money some of which was left, some he had spent lavishly and some he had lost. He had got land somewhere but it did not seem the same. The girl was already married somewhere, and he had stopped thinking about it because it bought pain and memories of lost world. He was doing odd jobs, he felt that he had lost his identity. But someone had told him, what the newspapers said, Dam was going to be considered as one of India's greatest pride but papers did not mention anything about him or his village

PS: Most of the story is true, heard about it in Mozda, a small tribal village in Gujarat. I also went and saw Sardar Sarovar, which is massive, and which has bought water to places where water was a struggle. But someone has had to pay the price for it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Books books... those which created stories..

Since long time I thought that I would write about the books that I have read, some books that have inspired me, books which after reading them created some stories in my life..

Treasure Island:

This was probably one of the first books that I read, as a twelve year old I think. Before that only comics, chandamama and champak. At that time I found this book really fascinating, on the ship in search of treasures, the pirates and lot of adventure. I played numerous games based on this books with friends, searching for imaginary treasure and what not. I used to imagine and hope that someday in our school picnic we all should get lost and land up in isolated island. I had even made a map of that island, and I had written small notes as to how it would all happen, and how should I emerge as a hero in discovering the way back, and ofcourse in the isolated place we would find the treasure. I had even thought that I wouldl make the tele-serial out of it, because I felt that I had to tell this story to whole lot of people.

Treasure Island is like a fairy tale, with lot of adventure, and imagination. I think every one should read this book.

Gone with the Wind:

Just before I had entered college, I had this urge to watch English movies, because I felt without watching these I would be ill-equipped to face other students who would have watched hundreds of them. One of the movies that I happened to see was "Gone with the Wind". I could not see it fully, but it looked grand. When I went to hostel and saw the book by this name, I knew that I had to read it. I liked the character of "scarlet". I loved the never say die spirit, and that little sentence which said, "I would think about it tomorrow, after all tomorrow is a new day". This lines still continue to inspire me. Also I loved the title "Gone with the Wind" and I think in our fast changing lives that we should enjoy the things when they are, because you dont know when things will change, and old ways would dissappear.


I rate this as one of the best books that I have ever read. It is just so wonderful and amazing story. I love the transformation from the guide to the saint, and it seems to happen so effortlessly, nothing looks artificial or fake. I love RK Narayan style of writing, he writes so simply and so well. I have read most of his books by now, but nothing can beat Guide. In many ways this book inspired me to write. Also inspired me to read books from Indian authors, because there are so many things that you can connect to so easily when you read this books.

Daddy Long Legs:

Chotu book. Am not sure if many have heard about this book, but it is a collection of letters written by one small orphan girl to a friend who sponsers her education. Letters are full of innocense and the experience of a girl in a school who earlier was inside the for walls of orphanage. I like the drawings and again the simplicity. I want to write more after reading that book, write in the sense, write more letters, write with hand instead of type writer.

Read it if you can, you can finish this book in about one hour.

The age of Kali:

Another addition to my books about India. The book inspires me to travel and write more. Love the way in which William, explores the history of each place and also the small anecdotes from each place and people. I learned so many things about India after reading that book, things which I did not know. I also feel that history books should be written in this way, which connect you to people rather than just the facts.
In this books I specially loved the essays on the Sati system and also on Lucknow

If you are reading this, and if you have a blog, do also post something about your favourite books, this is the best way to know and discover new books.