Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

186. Exhibition

A call from an unknown number. I cannot have the luxury of not answering calls from unlisted numbers. In a way, this phone is for public purpose, I keep on receiving calls from 'unlisted numbers'.

"Good Morning," there is a woman, from Delhi. She tells me her name and adds, "Mr. X has asked me to contact you." I know Mr X for many years. He is associated with one organization who does a bit of social work. I don't really appreciate what his organization does but I appreciate the commitment and dedication  of Mr. X.. So if someone approaches me through the thread of Mr. X, I generally offer whatever help I can.

"Good Morning. What do you need me to do?" I ask directly.
"Mr. X has told me that you have a lot of information," the woman says vaguely.
Now I have crossed that phase when one feels happy at the praise showered by strangers. That woman may not know it.
"What information do you want?" I ask again.
"Women," is the answer.

Now 'information on or about women' is a broad theme. Until this women tells me what exactly she wants, I won't be able to help her.
"Which women? On what theme?" I try to steer the conversation.
"Oh! Obviously Indian women! Any theme that you want," the woman speaks calmly.

I am bit irritated with the vagueness of the dialogue. However, because of the reference of Mr. X, I am not in a position to end it immediately.

After spending another few minutes what I realize is this: the organization with which this woman is associated (the same organization where Mr. X is also involved) is planning an exhibition on Ancient Indian History. They need some help from me in this regard.

"Have you listed some names?" I ask.
"Well, we have your name ..." the woman seems to have a good sense of humor.
"I am talking about historical names. If I know what kind of preparation you have, I will be able to help you better." I say politely.
"Sorry, I did not have enough time. Whatever you want, can be done. No problem." the woman says, again with the same calmness.

I smile. There won't be any problem, because they have not given any thought to exhibition. Anyway, I can always provide them few names.

The exhibition is in Delhi, so the write-up needs to be in Hindi.
I ask, "If I give you information in English, do you have someone who can translate it in Hindi?" I expect affirmative answer.
"No, we don't have any person who can translate. Why don't you give us information in Hindi? You are based in Delhi, so you also should be able to write Hindi..." that is undesirable. .

I decide to leave the matter for some time. I can always discuss these details with Mr. X.
"You are going to have posters ..." I am thinking aloud.
"Probably..." the woman says.
"Who is going to do the sketches? Or you will be using photographs? What would be the size of the posters? There cannot be too much of matter on posters, so we have to choose the information thoughtfully ...." my train of thought is going fast.
"Don't you have drawings, sketches or photographs?" the woman asks me in a tone of disbelief.

"No," I reply. Even though this woman has given me reference of Mr. X, now I am reaching the limits of patience.
"Then what will we do?" she asks.
Who is planning the exhibition? I wonder.

"You decide and tell me," I say little curtly.
"There is no time for decisions and discussions," the woman is also irritated now.
Curiosity overtakes my irritation and anger. Here is a woman whose organization wants to plan an exhibition; she does not know anything about the topic; she calls me for help and trying to order me; she does not know me and still she is getting irritated with me for no reason. I note to tell Mr. X that he should not provide my mobile number to any Rama, Seeta and Laxman.

"Yes, time is always short for such tasks," I try to understand her position.
With enthusiasm (which is my habit!) I add, "Kindly discuss with your team about all these points. Then we can sit together and work out. Don't worry, everything would be fine," I try to assure her.

"Can you come to my place today evening?" she asks.
"Sorry, I am out of Delhi for a week. Maybe....". I say.
The woman does not allow me to complete the sentence. "You are of no use then.." she announces.
"What do you mean?" I control myself but still can't help asking the question.

"The exhibition is planned on this Saturday-Sunday." the woman tells me.
"Sorry, I can't help you and best wishes to you..." I say and cut off the phone.

Exhibition, of what?

Exhibition that I work for a voluntary organization? Exhibition of my interests in History and Culture? Exhibition of our attitude to take everything casually? Exhibition of 'right to expect from others'?

Exhibition of many such aspects of how human beings think, and how they work!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

185. Uncertainty

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 34; the thirty-fourth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is "Of-Course, I'm insane"
“Why you did not show me the answer even when the teacher was busy in conversation with the other teacher? I needed your help and I thought you are my friend,” the boy is fuming.
“How could I show you the answer? It is not good to copy during exams,” the calm looking boy answers.
“You are insane, man!” the aggrieved friend says.
The boy smiles. He adds confidently, “No, I am not insane.”
“Why did you not appeal?” the Captain is upset.
“Oh! But he was not out, the ball was leaving the off stump, I know,” the bowler is all smiles.  
“We all were appealing, but since you did not appeal….”the Captain does not know what to say. He adds sarcastically, “You are insane, man!!”
“No, I am not insane…” the bowler is in tears.
“Let us have a cigarette” one of the boys says.
“Just smoking? I thought we are going to celebrate in an adult manner,” other adds.
“Ok, you continue with your celebrations, I am leaving,” third boy says.
“How can you leave? We are celebrating your success,” the first boy is really surprised.
“But I can’t celebrate by smoking and drinking…” third boy.
“Come on yaar! We are not school children. You are selected by one of the best IT companies in the world and so we are celebrating,” another one says.
“Look, even the girls want to smoke and drink  ...” another one. The girls immediately join the chorus.
“No, long back I promised my grandma that I would never smoke and drink,” the boy is indeed adamant.
“You are insane, man!” exclaim his friends.
“Maybe, I am insane …” the boy is feeling little guilty for spoiling the fun of his friends.
“Oh! Where is our bike?” the girl is anxious.
“It was parked in ‘No parking zone’. So the police have taken it away,” the shopkeeper informs. “Look,” he adds, “there is the traffic police van, go and get your bike before it is taken away.”
“Come on,” the girls says.
“Give him hundred rupees,” the girl asks.
“Will you give me a receipt?” the boy asks the police.
The police gets angry. “Come to police station, pay three hundred rupees, get you receipt and pick your bike,” he answers.
“Don’t be a miser. You earn loads of money,” the girl shouts.
“The question is not about money but…” the boy tries to explain.
“Come on yaar, leave it, I will pay,” the girl hurries through her purse.
“No, I won’t take the bike by paying bribe,” the boy is adamant.
“You are insane, Man!!” the girl’s anger is beyond bounds.
He keeps quiet.
“What are your expectations?” uncle asks.
“What expectations?” he is really puzzled.
“Oh! Nothing really. Whatever you want to give to your daughter, you should give. We don’t demand anything, you know what your daughter needs and what is best for her….” One of the uncles says.
Everybody smiles, nods.
“Are you talking about dowry? Then my answer is NO…” the boy’s voice is stern.
“Come on, who is talking about dowry? You don’t understand anything. For God’s sake, keep quiet,” one of the aunties orders him loudly.
“Calm down young man! No, we are certainly not talking about dowry. …” the man sitting next to uncle explains.
“If you are talking about any 'give and take' in the marriage, I will not marry…” declares the boy.
“You are insane, Man!” his cousin remarks.
“No, I am not insane. You all are…” the boy says and storms out of the room.
“You are insane, Man” his colleague says.
“You are insane...” the officer says.
“You are insane, “the shopkeeper says.
“You are insane,” the corporator says.
“You are insane,” the headmaster of his son’s school says.
“I want a mobile, dad,” his son demands.
He looks at his ten year old son.
“You are still young,” he says.
“But everyone in my class carries a mobile. It is only you who is not allowing me to have a handset. If you don’t give me a mobile, I will not go to school,” his son threatens.
“It won’t work my boy. You don’t need mobile, that is it,” he firmly says.
“Don’t be a miser. And don’t tell me about your values. We have to live according to the norms set by the world around,” his wife is trying to argue.
He ignores the demands, the pleading, and the accusation of neglect.
“You are completely insane Dad,” his son shouts through his tears and runs away.
“Of course, I am insane...” he shouts back.
He weeps silently.
He has not been able to create a space for himself in this world.
Is he insane? Or the world around is insane?
He is not sure.
The uncertainty has always baffled him. And it continues to do so.
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Introduced By: BLOGGER NAME, Participation Count: 29

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

184. Concern

Another day.
Another journey.

A roadside village.
As usual, I am late.
My work always gets delayed - because during discussions one point follows another.
They all are important points and we keep on discussing them.
That causes the delay.

However, I am not worried about this delay in reaching.
Because there is no meeting.
We are visiting two-thee households.
Recently our team has collected a specific data.
My job is to verify the information by visiting some number of  household.
A job easy from one point of view and difficult from another point of view.

The motorbike leading our car stops. The car too stops.
Two more persons are waiting for us.
We greet each other.
They walk in one direction, I follow.
It is afternoon time. Some people are sitting leisurely in the village, they watch us.
Some children are following us.
Women are watching from doors and windows.

We reach one house. I have to bend down to enter the house through that smallish door.
"Madam, this is a widow headed household," my colleague informs.

One of the aspects I am closely monitoring (the survey) is the data related to women.
Whether all women are women covered, whether women faced any difficulties during the survey, the importance of their participation in the process of finalizing the data ... I want to talk about all these points. So I am meeting women's Self Help Groups and also women headed households.

We enter.
A red colored carpet is waiting for us. It is so clean that it must be brand new.
"Sorry, we are late. We made you wait for us...." I start the dialogue.
"No problem. Please, come. Sit down, this carpet is for you .." the woman to my left welcomes me and my team.

That woman might be around 45.
In her left lap is a young girl sitting shyly. She must be just two years.
On her right side is another child, younger than the girl.
Another woman is holding the hand of the young boy. The woman looks young.
There is another woman sitting by the side of the young woman, her hand is on the back of the young woman as if to support her. She might be around 50.

I glance at the house. One room; bricks held together with cement, the tin roof.
A small cloth partition probably makes some space for cooking.
The family seems to be very poor as there is hardly anything in the house.
I turn back to the women.

They all look very tired.
Another glance tells me that they are not just tired but as if they are  weary of pain.
Suddenly the young woman starts crying.
Both the older women, sitting by her two sides are trying to console her.
In a flash I realize that all these three women with whom I am sitting are widows.

We talk.
The young woman has lost her husband in a road accident ten days ago.
What happened?
Motorbike accident.
Who was driving the bike?
Don't know.
By the time the family received the information, the young man had died.
Did they file police complaint?
Where was he working?
They don't know the details.

The young woman is about 18-20 years.
She never went to school. She lost her father at a very young age, her mother had to work and she had to take care of her younger brother.

This young brother - about 10 or 12 years.He goes to school.
He is sitting in the corner without smile or without any expression.
The young woman has two children - a two year daughter and a younger son.

The woman sitting to the left is Mother in Law. She too is a widow.
Another young boy sitting there is 10 year old - who is the son of the sister in law (of the young widow). This boy's parents have passed away.

That means in this household there are three women - all illiterate and widow; two young boys studying in fifth or sixth standard and two very young children.

Do they own land?
How much?
Don't know. Maybe half an acre.
Irrigation facility?
No, rainfed.
Who looks after the crops?
The young man - who had died in accident.
What do you cultivate?
Oh! Less than enough.

Any other income source?
Do you have any papers?
Ration card?
Any death certificate?
Anyone knows sewing?

The mother of young widow tells me that she goes to work - some roadside work - to earn.
Does she have any papers?
Aadhar card?
BPL card?
It was there earlier, but their names were removed from the BPL list.
When? Why? How?
Don't know.
Anyone in Self Help Group?

Any relatives in the village?
Some relatives are in the nearby villages, they had come when the young man passed away.
However, they had to return to their village as they all are daily wage workers.

I am speechless.
I ask one of the accompanying government workers to find out possibilities whether at least one of these women can immediately receive Widow Pension.
He writes details in his notebook.
Will these women get any benefit of the government scheme?
I don't want to generate false hopes.

What do I do?
How do I console them when I know that words are not enough.

What will they eat?
How will they live?
The two boys go to school, but when will they grow enough to earn?
Will the existing education system allow them to earn degree or certificate?
Until then, how will the family survive?
What can I do for them?
And how many more such families are there?

We are leaving.
The young widow says, "Sister, I want to add one more name in the list (that was given in the survey."
I am startled. I keep quiet.
"I am carrying a baby, Can I write his name now?" she pleads.

Her concern is not over yet.
That will keep her burning until she is alive.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

183. Celebrations

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 33; the thirty-third edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is 'Celebrations'
They were coming one by one.
Everybody tried to hide the anxiety. However, the process of hiding revealed their emotions more than they themselves would have expected.

“Everybody here?” asked Nanda, knowing that one was still missing.
“Wait for Bachchan, see he is there, waiting for the signal,” Haveli pleaded.

They all waited for Bachchan – a five year boy.
Bachchan came running to them with great joy.

“Let us go behind the school, there would be nobody,” Khan gave a sort of order and everybody followed.
They were all smiles and walked silently behind the big building everybody called school. Many children came to that building every day. However, today the building carried a deserted look.
They huddled together, the taller pulling the shorter, the elders holding hands of youngsters. Everybody had something in one hand and they were trying to hide it from others.

“Ok, now all close eyes.” Nanda  said.
“I won’t” protested Kandya.
Khan put his right hand on Kandya’s head. “Nobody will take your treasure,” said Khan and everybody laughed loudly.

“I will say Ram, Seeta, Hanuman three times. Until then everybody keeps eyes closed. Third time when I say Hanuman, we open our hands and show our gifts to all ….” Nanda was the Didi of the group.

They all waited. Nanda gave the instructions. They opened their eyes and showed their treasure to others.

Nanda had a half torn box with three pieces of Laddu. Khan had found some crackers. Haveli had a box of Chiwda. Bachchan was luckier – he had received a ten rupee note. Kandya was amused by his gift – a packet of wafers with only two pieces in it.  Nani had received Bakarwadi. They enthusiastically watched all the gifts.

“Let us celebrate”, said Bachchan and everybody laughed. They ate whatever was available.
“What next?” asked Mintu.

“Now, we will move to that bigger signal, where more than four roads join and there are more cars on that road. Only people in car give gifts, remember,” Khan shared his experience.

“So, we will celebrate again?” Bachchan asked with all innocence.
“Boy, for one week, we will continue to celebrate, don’t worry,” Nanda assured him.

They moved towards the next signal.
The kids ignored and deserted by their parents, harassed by the police, snubbed by the car owners….
The kids half hungry, abused physically and verbally…
The kids with torn clothes and without bath for days …
The kids fighting with each other to catch attention of the commuters on the road…
They too celebrate Deepavalee ….in their own way.

The celebrations will continue for a while.

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Introduced By: BLOGGER NAME, Participation Count: XX

Sunday, October 7, 2012

182. Khan Market

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 32; the thirty-second edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is 'An Untold Story'
I have a very strange feeling about this city. I know, this statement applies to all the cities - urban life has become a very strange kind of living. That is the reason I generally don't say "this is a strange city" - but I can't help it saying about Delhi. I have lived in many cities and always lived as if I was born there and I was going to die there. But with Delhi, it is different. When I came here, I knew I had to leave this city some day. Is that truth makes me feel the strangeness of Delhi? I don't know.

A lot has been told and written about Delhi. From ages, people have been expressing their love or there awe about Delhi. However I feel that Delhi still offers an Untold Story, it has the capacity to open its secrets if one is interested.  I know, you won't believe me. Alright, take the example of Khan Market.

So far, I had visited Khan Market only once - with a colleague from Canada. During those hours I had realized that this place was not for me.When I received a message from Surekha Narain about a visit to Khan Market area, I was surprised. The weather in Delhi was not conducive for moving around leisurely even after a comparatively good rain in August. I had been to couple of places with Surekha and had found it to be good. I mean the group is never too large so we can spend time in discussions and information generation. Surekha always comes with lot of information to share and the atmosphere is friendly and informal. She provides good insights into the places we visit. So I was eager to visit Khan Market. 

I wanted to know more before confirming and so asked my colleagues, "What is there in and around Khan Market?" Most of them are born and brought up in Delhi - still they looked at me in a weird way, said "Market" and changed the topic. I went to Wikipedia. There I gathered few points like - this Market was established in 1951, it is named after legendary Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and it has 21st rank in the list of costly markets in the world!! Reading this, I was caught in two minds - to visit Khan Market or Not. However, I was sure, Surekha would present  Untold Story of the area to me. 

Hotel Ambassador, Khan Market, New Delhi 
Finally, I decide to go to Khan Market. When we met at 8.00 in the morning outside Khan Market Metro Station, I was happy to notice that the group was not too large. Being Saturday morning, the road was not crowded.At the first glance, a big white building opposite the road attracted my attention. This is supposed to be a rich people's area - so I thought it must be famous residential complex. But I was told that it was the back side of Ambassador Hotel. Later we could actually visit the hotel - will tell you about it after a couple of paragraphs!

Bagwali Masjid, Khan Market, New Delhi
Outside the Metro Station (Exit Gate 2) we turned towards left. After a peaceful walk for five minutes, we reached 'Bagawali Masjid'. The mosque is named so because during its prime time  it was surrounded  by garden. There were three four people (all men) praying. We were not sure whether women were allowed in that mosque -so we entered with precaution- ready to turn around any minute. All women in the group covered their head with scarf or dupatta. There were few people sitting in the mosque, but they did not object to our entry so we were relaxed and started enjoying the architecture of the place. From the main road, the mosque is not at all visible - though instead of garden, there is a nursery now. What changed the fortune of this place? It remains an Untold Story for me!

Next we visited Sujan Singh Park. This was the first apartment in Delhi built long back in 1945. Who is this Sujan Singh? He is father of building contractor Sobha Singh. Who is Sobha Singh? He is father of Khushwant Singh. (Please, don't ask who is Khushwant Singh!!). Sobha Singh was prominent builder of Lutyen's  Delhi. It is said that not long back half of the Delhi belonged to Sobha Singh.I was pained to note that the city of Delhi elected  him not once but four times as President of New Delhi Municipal Council. How can people forget and forgive that he was one of those who identified Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Datta for throwing bombs in Delhi Assembly in 1929. Why do we have a very weak sense of patriotism? Well, that too remains an Untold Story! 

Sujan Singh Park, Khan Market, New Delhi
The apartment is extremely beautiful. The serenity catches one's heart. For a moment, we all were speechless. In the midst of high rise building it was nice to have this not so high building. Each household has open balcony - which could be seen better in the earlier photograph of Hotel Ambassador. The security guards came to ask us the purpose of the visit. When we said that we just wanted to watch the building - two of them nodded but nevertheless followed us till the end. Many people must be coming to 'see' this building  The complex is 'U' shaped - residential buildings on the three sides with a beautiful garden in the midst, For a moment I thought we were in historical time - but the impression immediately vanished due to modern cars parked there. One of us loudly thought, "what could be the price of one flat in this apartment?" and I decided not to pay attention to such discussion. How many families must have stayed here and how many must have moved out of here! Their story is untold indeed!

Old Telephone in Hotel Ambassador, New Delhi 
We crossed the road. We were not sure whether we would be allowed to enter the Ambassador Hotel. Surprisingly the security guards welcomed us with 'Good Morning'. Maybe it is part of their duty or maybe the foreign nationals in our group made our entry easy. Surekha interacted with the hotel staff and suddenly we were invited inside the hotel. The staff took us to couple of rooms. One of the staff - a man - who has been working there for last 35 years talked about old type of fans, old type of lifts etc. We saw 'ancient looking' telephone in the lobby - which was not working. I felt like I was on the set of some 'old' movie. The hotel walls are white and again in the midst of the triangular shaped building there is  a large space. We were told that there was a restaurant in that place. The rooms were good but not worth of charges. I don't who comes and stays in these costly rooms and why. Maybe there are many more Untold Stories!!

Our next point was a Synagogue. Here we met the Rabbi and the Secretary Mr. Malekar. According to him there are about 5000 Jew population in India and about 50 people in Delhi who are the followers are of Judaism. However, many people from the various embassies come here to pray.It was nice to here a religious teacher saying: "I am Indian first and Jew later" or "Israel is in my heart, but India is in my blood." We Indians in that group felt good about it.

Mr. Malekar briefly explained fundamental teachings of Judaism, the prayer ceremony in the Synagogue. For example the cloth the Rabbi wears during the discourse and the Shofar has historical significance. Nobody is allowed to enter the wooden platform from where the Rabbi gives talk etc. However things are changing now. For example the status of women according to the religion is changing. The tradition says that Torah should not be read unless 10 men are there to listen. But now at least the Delhi Synagogue reads it if there are 10 persons - which includes women. Saturady is a Sabbath day and work is forbidden on that day. However here was Mr. Malkear, working on Saturday and sharing the knowledge with non-followers of Jew faith. What factors contributed to these changes - is another Untold Story!

Parasi Cemetery, Khan Market, New Delhi 
The area has many cemeteries - Jew, Christian and Parasi. We visited the Jew and the Parasi cemeteries Some of the tombs were smaller in size. The realization that those tombs are of young children made everyone little sad. The Parasi Cemetery looked better maintained - though the number of Parasi people in Delhi also is not very high.  Interestingly we found that Parasi people have a longer life - whether this is truth or not needs to be checked with other authentic data. We had a brief  discussion on how different religions dispose the dead. What kind of life these people had lived - we do not know. We also do not know what they saw and what they felt. Only their memory remains - if someone is there to remember them. Otherwise there are so many lives who carry with them the story of their life - Untold!

If you ask anyone in Delhi about Khan Market; ten out of ten people would say that it a place for shopping. Here we were, a group of people, spending two and half hours in the area - without visiting a shop, without visiting a restaurant and still feeling full.

To some extent, I understood the Untold Story of Khan Market area that morning. But many aspects of the story need to be explored. Let me see when I get the opportunity to visit the area again! Let me see what this strange city of Delhi reveals to me. 
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Introduced By: BLOGGER NAME, Participation Count: XX

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

181. Categories

When I am getting out of Delhi Metro Station(s), I am interested in observing people's choice(s).

There are three choices - to take a lift, an escalator or staircase. Obviously, this is before or after Metro travel!

It is understood that those people who are either ill, very old or having luggage should use the lift. 
Rest of the commuters have two options - staircase and escalator. Most of the Metro Stations do not have the facility of escalators for climbing down - they are only for climbing up. So, I am mainly discussing the tendencies exhibited during Upward Mobility! 

Every time I see some people rushing to lift. Even for climbing down they want to use the lift. They are not always old or ill or do not carry luggage. However, they are obsessed with 'saving time' and always want to take the fastest route. I put these people in category one. Sometimes I wonder whether these people know only one way of living, I doubt whether they are flexible and I wonder how they would respond to life without electricity. 

There are some people who would always take staircase. " Use Stairs to Stay Fit" declares Delhi Metro. Some people do take this opportunity to exercise a bit and stay fit. They are least affected physically as well as psychologically, when the escalator is not working. They are determined and they carry on with their mission without bothering about the external situation. I am not sure how many staircases they climb up every day. These are category two people for me. They are health conscious and certainly they can adjust to the situation in a much better way than the category one people. But in a way, they are like category one people! They also have a fixed way of thinking - only staircase!! 

The third category of people always try to use escalators. They are kind of people who use technology (or luxury) when available. But if the escalator is not working, they would calmly climb up the staircase. They would say : alright, once in a while it is good.  These people have choices and initially they try to make easy choices. However, if easy choice is not available, they do not mind the hard way. They could be easily mixed into category one and category two - it is hard to identify at a glance.

Fourth category is more spontaneous. Depending on their mood or situation, they decide what to choose. Sometimes they would just run on the staircase and some other time they would lazily wait for the lift. They don't have any fixed route - they enjoy the variety and for them the variety comes from within.  I am a regular Metro traveler for two years and know some of the faces who sometimes take escalator and sometimes staircase. I like their unpredictable ways of choosing options. Wherever they go, I am sure these people would always create fun for themselves - by being flexible.

And I know there are many more categories.

One category who observes, thinks, shares.
Another category who never bothers.
Another one who does not like being categorized like this.

We belong to either of these categories - maybe we are in different categories for different things in life. But certainly our behaviors create pattern giving glimpses into inner mind.
Of course, sometimes we could be fooled , we could be completely wrong.
However, the process of categorization keeps on happening.
With knowledge or without knowledge.

How much of it is conditioning and how much of it is choice?
I do not know. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

180. Game

"How was the marriage ceremony?" the moment I stepped in, Sudhir's grandmother asked.
I was little surprised at that question. Because not only Sudhir's grandma did not know the bride and the groom (and their families), she also did not know me well enough to ask this question. 

Sudhir is my friend's - Nirmala's - husband. I was in the town to attend one marriage - which I could not afford to avoid due to my close relations with both the families involved in the marriage. I had taken this opportunity to stay with Nirmala and to chat with her. 

"Oh, it was good," I answered grandma with a smile and immediately switched the topic. Grandma naturally had more questions to ask but my reluctance was visible to her too. Fortunately at that moment Sudhir came. 
"How was the marriage ceremony?" Sudhir asked. Though Nirmala was my close friend, I had hardly met Sudhir. We knew each other mostly through Nirmala. So I glanced curiously at Sudhir. I get tired of entertaining people in a meaningless way. So, I completely ignored Sudhir's question and said, "Sudhir, did you see the news of this new scam?" (That was equally meaningless question!).

Sudhir smiled clearly showing his understanding of my thought processes. He pushed the easy-chair in front of me and said, "Now just relax. I will bring you a cup of coffee. Nima would be joining us any moment."

And Nirmala came. Surprisingly, she too asked the same question: "How was the marriage ceremony?" 

That was it. "Nima, the marriage ceremony was like any other normal marriage ceremony. The bride and the groom put garlands, the Pandits and some of the old ladies sang mantras, people queued for lunch, the video cameraman's presence was overwhelming .... Is it not that each marriage ceremony is the same except for the changes in few details? One glance at the invitation cards tells you what to expect!!" 

Nirmala must have sensed boredom in my voice. After a moment's pause, she said, "Well, there are certain things which are beyond all this obvious. I know you don't like to attend these ceremonies but you attend because you don't want to hurt people's beliefs. You also look at this opportunity to meet many people. So when I asked, 'how was the marriage ceremony?' what I wanted to ask was - 'Did you meet any other friends? Did you enjoy the gathering?' Now that you answered with such irritation only shows that your time was not well spent."

In spite of my irritation I smiled. That is the specialty of Nima. She always speaks in such terms that I can understand. 

I turned to Sudhir. "Sorry, Sudhir, and what did you really want to know?"

Sudhir said, "Like Nima, I was also interested in knowing whether you enjoyed. Also I think we have similar views on  the give and take part, the show of wealth in these ceremonies and the meaningless rituals etc. I wanted to know your remarks on these aspects of the ceremony."

"And what was Grandma's intention?" I asked feeling little guilty.  

"Oh, being a lady from old generation, Grandma was naturally interested in knowing about ornaments, menu, rituals etc" Sudhir answered with smile. 

"Oh! Then why don't we ask directly what we want to ask? Why the mask of words? Is it not confusing that each one of you wanted different set of knowledge but used the same words?" I was talking to myself but spoke out aloud. 

Sudhir smiled again. He said, "How can we change language? Sometimes the direct questions sound very rude and undesirable. Instead of that why don't you take a challenge of interpreting the question in the right way? It all depends on the persons with whom you are conversing and your relationship with that person. We keep on using the same words, but each one has a different expectations from the same words, for each of us the hidden meaning of the words is different. It is a game of interpretation. One has to play it with interest and not get irritated. In reality everyone plays this game ...."

Same words, with different meaning, with different intentions, with different expectations. 
This seems to be an interesting and challenging game. 


Sunday, September 2, 2012

179. Strangers in the Night

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 31; the thirty-first edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is 'Strangers in the Night'
I was being followed.
Constantly; continuously; without break; always.
I could sense IT.

Now that was bit funny.
I could not see who was following me, could not hear, could not touch, could not smell… still I could sense IT. The nameless, formless entity – It was difficult to elaborate IT to anybody. So, I chose never to talk to anybody about IT.

Who was IT? 
A Ghost? A God? One of my Ancestors?  My Conscience? My Instinct? And was it natural fear- born out of that instinct?
I did not know.
A stranger, I guess.

I named our pair, our co-existence as ‘Strangers in the Night’ only because I could never see who IT was. IT always remained a stranger to me. But the description of our relationship was not right. IT knew everything about me and I did not know anything about IT. Would IT name me as Stranger? No, I think not.
When did this start? I mean when did IT start following me? As far as I could remember, IT had always been there. I could never feel the absence of IT! IT had become inseparable part of me.

However, I was not frightened, – I mean not after certain time; in fact never except for the initial days. I got used to ITs’ presence. I accepted IT as part of my existence. Whatever I was doing – good, bad or ugly – IT never commented, never advised, never got angry, never irritated, never had a word with me.  When I did something good, I felt IT to be nearer and when I did behave badly, IT moved away from me a little further. This went on for years. I did not know what was achieved in the process - whether the stranger came nearer to me or moved away from me – I could not tell. IT was always at a handful distance and still away from my shadow. I could hardly affect it, leave controlling IT.I could never catch IT, could never understand IT.! I just kept on feeling IT. And sometimes I told myself that IT was just a hallucination – that was all.

When I was on the deathbed, I remembered the lines from MuNDaka Upanishad.
द्वा सुपर्णा सयुजा सखाया समानं वृक्षं परिषस्वजाते
तयोरन्य: पिप्पलं स्वाद्वत्त्यनश्वनन्यो अभिचाकशीति 
(तृतीय मुंडके प्रथम खंड – १)
(Two birds, united always and known by the same name, closely cling to the same tree. One of them eats the sweet fruit; the other looks on without eating.)

Then everything became clear to me.
We were strangers only because I was ignorant. We were inseparable because we were never two, we were always ONE.
When the realization dawns upon, there is no ignorance, there is no night and there are no strangers.
Everything is ONE.
Strange indeed, that I spent my whole life without understanding this simple truth.

Wish that for you there are no more Nights.
And no more Strangers in the Nights.

(Note: After reading the first four comments, I thought it better to add these two links. Those who want to know more are requested to go through those;
1. Upanishads
2. MunDaka Upanishad)
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Introduced By: BLOGGER NAME, Participation Count: XX

Sunday, August 26, 2012

178. Innocent

" Wai Wai? or Momo? What would you prefer, Madam? " my colleague asked me.

Momo, I know. I like Momo. After coming to Delhi I have been consuming them regularly. However at that moment  I did not want Momo only because yesterday afternoon and yesterday evening I had already tested Momo in this part of the county. So, I asked what is Wai Wai? And realized that they are kind of noodles.

I was in the village Sikkp in Namchi area of (South Sikkim district) in Sikkim. My local colleagues were with me. In the morning I had climbed up and down the hills in village Wok and had used lot more calories, so I was hungry. But here there were only two options - Wai Wai and Momo.

I decided to have Wai Wai and it was filling. But my colleagues were still hungry and were planning to order Momo and Soup. Instead of waiting for them to finish their food, I decided to use this time to walk around and take some pictures. Because of my presence my colleagues were not able to freely converse in Nepali so they gladly accepted my plan.

I came outside and noticed the beautiful river flowing to my left. While going to Wok village I had asked about the river and was told that the name of the river is Rangeet (which literally means colorful or colored). This is a tributary of Teesta river - the lifeline of Sikkim. About Teesta river, there is a lot to tell - but not today. I was planning to climb down to the river and enter into the water - just stand in the water for few minutes. But then I realized that the water was too deep and was moving very fast. I also realized that there was no path to climb down and that during the last three days I have not seen anybody near the waters. The river is flowing with flurry - so better to keep away from her!

To my left there was a bridge. In Sikkim one comes across these bridges very often. I can imagine that when these bridges were not built, how the villages would remain cut off from the rest of the world for days. These bridges appear to be old and one wonders whether they are strong enough! But these bridges are very strong. They play a major role in connecting villages and in turn connecting people with each other. They carry the burden of the vehicles and make living of people a little less hazardous during monsoon and winter. 
I was adjusting my  camera when I saw both of them chatting together. They were standing in the middle of the bridge in a relaxed manner. Initially they were little worried about the camera in my hands. However, I believe that was the reason they wanted to interact with me. They started staring at me. I leisurely walked towards them. That increased their curiosity. I could understand that both of them were in two minds - whether to smile at me or not. I took the initiative and smiled.

"Can I take your photograph?" I asked in Hindi. One of them smiled signaling me his permission and was immediately ready to pose. The other was bit hesitant though. "Can't you speak Nepali?" he asked me expressing his distrust. I said, "No, I can't." He started thinking on my response. But the first one did not want to lose the opportunity to get photographed. He just made his friend quiet.

I took a photograph and showed it to them. Both of them were delighted.
"Are you alone?" one of them asked.
"No, I am not alone. My colleagues taking lunch, I finished with it and so came outside to take some pictures," I explained. 

"Why are you taking food in the hotel? Is your home here?" the first one asked again.
"No, my home is not here," I answered.
"Then where is it?" another question.
"It is in Delhi," I inform.
"Oh! That is the reason you cannot speak Nepali", the first boy who was still doubting me seemed to be little convinced. 

"Where have you come? To whom did you meet?" he asked.
I indicated the office where I had been.
"Ok, I know that office. You met the officer there?," another question.
"Yes," I answered without explaining more.
"Where will you go now?" one more question.
"Namachi", I answered again.
"Which car is yours? The Jeep or the White one behind?" he asked. I was impressed with his observation power. I answered that too.

Then I decided to ask few questions to them. Though the children looked very young, they were studying in fifth class. We had an interesting conversation about their school, Nepali language, mid day meal in the school, their teachers, hostel and the students in the hostel ...

"What are you doing here?" I asked.
"Watching the water level" both of them answered together. 

Then there was another round of conversation- this time about the river. The name of the river is Rangeet, there is a dam on the other side, the water level increases during day and reduces in the night because it rains more in the night. They can swim but nobody swims in the river during rainy season.

I asked about fish. One of them explained, "There are no fish now. Like flowers they too are seasonal. This is not the season for fish..." he was patiently trying to explain. 

Suddenly they shouted at me, "Run fast. Your car is leaving. It will go without you..." They were able to see the car though I was not. I knew that the car won't leave me but I was touched by the concern the kids expressed about me.

"The car will pick me up. It will pass this bridge, won't it?" I tried to assure the boys.
"Namachi is not in this direction. It is on the other road...." the kids almost pushed me towards the car.

In the cities we are taught to act with purpose, taught 'not to befriend strangers'; taught to guard our privacy; in short we are taught to distrust people around us. Of course I agree that the changing situation has provided  a solid context to such behavior and attitude. 

However these kids talked to me for half an hour, they showed trust in me, they had a concern for me, they understood my limitations - I am touched by their action, 

Whenever I will remember the roaring waters of Rangeet, the green Himalayan range I will also remember this innocent conversation with these two young boys. 


Sunday, August 5, 2012

177. Shadow

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 30; the thirtieth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.
“Let us go to the seashore,” Anil suggested.

Sunanda was excited with the suggestion, even when she was worried. She had seen sea only in the movies and in the books – but she never had been on its shore. This was an opportunity.

However, Sunanda was caught in two minds. Something strange was happening in her life and she was not able to understand it properly. She was feeling uneasy about it but was unable to pinpoint the cause of her uneasiness.

Sunil had not taken her to ‘their’ home this morning. He talked about ‘some urgent meeting’ in the office which he had to attend to. He introduced his friend Anil to her and asked to follow instructions from Anil.

“When will we meet?” she had asked Sunil and he had just said, “Don’t know”.

Wasn’t it strange?

Anil seemed to be a good person. He took her to a restaurant, fed her well. He convinced Sunanda how life in Mumbai was different than village life and how Sunil was compelled to leave her and all that. She was not convinced. But she had nothing to complain about Anil. He seemed to be a decent fellow.

Sunanda had arrived in Mumbai at about 3.00 in the afternoon. Sunil, her husband came to receive her at Dadar station. They were meeting for the first time after their marriage which took place a couple of months ago, and she had dreamt of a very romantic meeting.  

Sunanda after the accidental death of her parents was brought up by her maternal uncle. Well, life was not good there. Sunanda clearly knew that she was unwanted there but had no options but to stay with uncle. She managed to score good marks in her secondary school examinations but the doors of college education were closed to her. If there was a college in her village, she could have still managed it. But going to block headquarter for higher secondary studies and graduation was out of her bounds.

For the last two years, she was just at home, doing nothing and not knowing the purpose of her life. She had nobody to talk to, nobody to communicate. So, when the marriage proposal came, she accepted it gladly, thinking that she would be able to make something of the new opportunity.

Sunanda’s uncle did not find it necessary to ask her consent. He had fixed it in a local Samudayik Vivah Sohala (Community marriage ceremony) organized by a political leader. Sunanda only knew that his name was Sunil and he was working in Mumbai. She also came to know that like her, Sunil too was an orphan. She thought that they will be able to understand each other well because they had gone through the same peril.

And here was her husband; not taking care of her but delegating to his friend!! Sunanda felt very insecure.

Anil had entertained Sunanda well. He seemed to have a knack of making strangers talk. He listened to Sunanda with sensitivity which surprised her. Once in a while, she asked him to call Sunil. However every time Anil politely answered that in the meetings cell-phones were not allowed.

Sunanda did not know what to do. She realized that in this strange city, she did not know anyone except Sunil. She also realized that she did not know anything about Sunil as well. She had his number but no cell-phone to make a call. She had some money with her – but she was sure, she could not go back to her uncle’s house. There was no place for her.

She had only one person to depend on – that was Anil.

So, she accepted his idea of going to sea-shore.

The Sun was about to set and the horizon was reddish –orange. The waves sounded beautiful. There were many people playing with the waves. Sunanda forgot all her worries and was excited like a child. She wanted to run into the waves, but was frightened to do so. What if she gets drowned?

“Do you want to go inside? Don’t worry, I am with you. Just hold my hand,” Anil promised her.

For a moment, Sunanda was aghast at his suggestion. How can she, a married woman, hold hand of her husband’s friend?  She politely refused and went on.

But just before entering into the water, she stopped.

She saw a monster ahead of her. She turned back and she realized that there was another monster there.
She realized that she was caught in a trap.

She turned back to Anil.
“Can I ask you a question?” she asked.
“Sure”, Anil was as polite as ever.
“Is my husband ever going to come to me again?” she asked with some hope that she would be proved wrong.
“You are very intelligent.” Certified Anil.

Sunanda stepped back. She looked around. There were many people on the sea-shore. Some were walking, some were running, some were playing with their kids, some were building sand castles.

If she shouted, would any of them come to help her? Would anybody believe her? Would she be able to speak their language? If she calls people, what would Anil say? Would people believe her or Anil? He had been good to her so far, but what would he do if she called people or police? Sunanda wanted to cry loudly but only silent tears rolled on her face.

“Come on. Don’t worry. I will take you to my home.” Anil assured her.
“Your home? Who else is there?” Sunanda asked again. She must doubt this man, his intentions. He knew Sunil won’t come again, still he never indicated anything to her until she asked. And why was he ready to take burden of an unknown woman? Sunanda was getting confused.

“Oh! My mother is there. My sisters are there. You will enjoy their company. They will teach you how to earn money in this strange city. You will get enough food and good room to stay. You will have to work for few hours only. You will become a rich person. I promise you, you will never remember Sunil. Anyway, Sunil does not deserve you. He could not bring this luxury to you that I promise. Come with me. Let us go.” Anil’s voice was very assuring and peaceful.

Sunanda looked at those shadows on the sea-shore once again.

She knew she had left one dark corner to have more darkness in life. The past was dark and so would be the future.

Sunanda had to give up to the darkness where there will never be any other shadow.

The reddish –orange horizon and the setting Sun are not as joyous to her as they are to others.

In her life, she is never going to see the rising Sun, never to enter the sea waters, never to have blue sky, never to have the fresh breeze and orange shadows.

She would be drowned in life itself. Now onwards, she would be the shadow of herself.

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. I’m thankful to BLOGGER NAME, who introduced Blog-a-Ton to me, and I debuted in XX edition.
Credits Image - Shades of Orange by Harsha Chittar Courtesy - Curious Dino Photography via www.blogaton.in

Saturday, July 14, 2012

176. Right Question

When I read the notice about a Panel Discussion, initially I just ignored it. 
Then I saw that RB was going to chair it, I noted down the date and the time. 
I respect RB though I do not know him personally. I had listened to him a couple of times and had liked his talks. So, I decided to go for it. 

And I could make it as was planned. 

Before the panel speakers started the presentation, RB announced that all questions would be taken up for discussion in the end. He appealed that all those who had questions to ask to panelists should write those on a piece of paper. the small pieces of paper were circulated. 

I was amazed to see a number of people from the audience writing enthusiastically and handing over the piece of paper to the volunteers. I was wondering how people can have so many questions to ask. It was bit ridiculous of me to think so as I too keep on asking many questions. The only difference is I ask questions to myself and they were asking it to others. Maybe, I am too egoistic to admit my ignorance. RB was going through all those questions that kept on coming to him. 

The panelists shared their ideas one by one. RB summarized the discussion. He was brilliant as usual and did a lot of value addition that the 'Chair' is supposed to do and by thanking everyone he declared 'end of the session'. 

The audience was stunned. One of the volunteers rushed to him and spoke something to him. I was sure and everybody else was sure that the volunteer must have reminded him of the questions people had asked. 

RB smiled. He nodded. He closed his eyes for a moment and seemed to lost in some kind of thoughts. Then the usual peace returned to him and he spoke calmly. He said, " Thanks .... (abc) for reminding me about those questions. I have read all those questions. None of those was a question. I invited questions and not comments, not your ideas. However, all those were comments. I kindly request you to learn to ask Right Questions. That is very important when we are seeking answers sincerely."

There was complete silence. Those who had written questions must have been hurt with the gross insult. But everybody kept quiet. 

Asking the Right Questions!!
Well, that is what I need to learn.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

175. Two Minutes

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 29; the 29th Edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The topic for this month is 'TWO MINUTES'.
Veer Bhadra Sing is sitting in the courtyard. He is just sitting. He has been doing nothing else but sitting and waiting. The Sunlight is warm and he is enjoying it. It reduces the cold that is entering into his bones. He is waiting for what?

Since when is he sitting alone like this? For how long - he does not remember. It seems that for ages, he is just sitting there; waiting something to happen. If someone asks him ‘what he wants to happen’- he will not be able to say anything. He has not spoken to anyone for a long time. Rather he wants to talk to but there is no one around.

The other day some people came to his home and asked many questions. He could follow only half of them and could answer very few of them.  They were asking about his age. How could he tell that? He is old – that much anybody can see. He has lost his wife long ago and his two sons died due to some illness. His daughters (two? or three?) were married to boys in nearby villages but he has not seen any one of them lately. Have they all died? – He does not know. Now only two of his grandsons are there; who come to village occasionally. They never send him any money. Maybe, they too are poor like him- he thinks.

Those unknown people were also asking about his home, his land, whether he has TV and what not. He wondered whether they could not see themselves that he is poor and he is hungry. He has nothing in home to cook for. Earlier his neighbors used to give him a rotee and subjee – they in their own way used to take care of him. But now they too have grown old. Veer Bhadra Sing has not seen any of them for many days now. He is not sure whether they are dead or alive.

Hunger is spreading in his veins. He wants to eat something – anything. He closes his eyes. He smells Chawal and Daal. He smells hot rotee and his favorite baingan subjee. Aroma of hot tea hits his nostrils. His lips make an involuntary movement to sip that tea only to realize that he is sitting alone and hungry.

Everything around seems deserted at first glance. Then Veer Bhadra Sing realizes that he has lost his vision and hence cannot see what is happening around. He has not been able to hear anything. Maybe the world around is as colorful and as live as was in his young days – only his capacity to experience that world has diminished. Only if somebody spends two minutes with him now and then, things would change! But alas! Nobody seems to have two minutes to spare for him.

Suddenly Veer Bhadra Sing realizes that he is waiting for death. But the Lord of Death is a brute. He visits those who do not want him. And those who want him to come and pick them up, he invariably makes them  wait.

Veer Bhadra Sing feels helpless. He wants to die, he desperately wants to die.

“Sir, a case of hunger death”, Nitin calls his news editor.

“Well, what is it?” news editor has no time for more details.

“Sir, I am in village Ashoh, district Banda i.e. Chitrakut district in Uttar Pradesh. A man has apparently died of hunger.” Nitin continues.

“Man, cut it short. Tell me one thing. Is it significant?” News editor.

New editor has not time. He is working in a ‘cut throat competition’ environment. He is weary of this young generation recruits who think that media coverage can bring in social change.

“Sir, he was an old man. Apparently he was alone; nobody to take care of him.” Nitin is not stopping at all.
“Old man! What caste he belongs to?” news editor asks.
“Caste? Sir….. Well, I do not know.” Nitin is suddenly apologetic. “But Sir, this shows our apathy to old people. Does it mean once people cross their productive age; we should just let them die? What is government doing – with crores of rupees being spent on ‘old age pension’ scheme? What are NGOs doing? What is society doing?” Nitin continues.
“Listen Nitin. You have a 30 second byte”, News Editor is clear of his priorities.

“Sir.. but listen … “ Nitin wants to say something.
“If you get caste of the man, if you get political equations covered in right manner, you will get two minutes, two full minutes.” News Editor emphasizes.
“Come back to me in five minutes”, barks News Editor.

Nitin is aghast.
Two minutes!
Nitin thinks bitterly of his profession, of the insensitivity of his clan, of his compulsions to be part of the rat race, of his ruthlessness ….

He overcomes his weakness. This is an opportunity for him, he can’t waste it.
Nitin knows that two minutes’ byte would give him a break. He has to catch those worthy two minutes which might turn out to be the greatest moment in his short career. This will help him to grab better job.

He turns around to the crowd and throws questions at them.
The aim is clear: 
Make a story worthy of Two Minutes. 
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

174. My Choice

I was visiting this particular city after a long time.
“How many years ago, did I last come here?” I asked myself.
Well, maybe five years ago, maybe seven; I did not even remember it.
So, I gave up that idea. If I don’t remember, then it is not important for me at that moment.

I suddenly remembered my friend. In all my earlier visits, this particular friend’s home was my contact and staying place in the city.
“For how long we have not communicated with each other?” I asked myself again and had no answer and so gave up that too.

I found the phone number of that friend in the contact list.
I was not comfortable in directly making a call. I was not connected and I know I cannot take for granted anything from anybody at anytime.
I texted a message on that number even when I did not know whether the number still existed or not.
“I am in your city today. We can meet if you wish.” I knew this was rather a cryptic message.
Five minutes passed away. Another ten minutes ran away. I was waiting for the reply and was anxious about what it would be.
After half an hour, I received a text message. It said, “I have lost contacts from my old handset. Whose number is this?”

I wrote my name, which on second thoughts I should not have.
If somebody who was your close friend once upon a time has lost not only you but even your contact information - the message is loud and clear.
You are lost – forever.
Why try to keep things which are not yours?

I smiled and then forgot everything about that friend.
But then afterwards I asked one more question to myself – “What is the difference between two of us?” Nothing; actually.
So I have no business to feel bad about how others treat me.

"They" have their choice and I have my choice.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

173. Blank Pages

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 28; the 28th Edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The topic for this month is 'BLANK PAGES'.
The great news today in the newsroom is sudden announcement of a press conference by PD. Poornendu Dey, lovingly called PD by the press is one of the most popular novelists and thinker of the era. He is not only popular amongst intelligentsia but also among the common ranks. He is not only popular in the East but also in the West.  He is known to be fearless and stands for the tribal and the exploited. He basically writes in Bangla but almost all his works have been translated in the major Indian languages and even the other major languages in the world. He travels a lot and his lectures on various topics ranging from literature to atomic energy and from dam displacement to ecology are well attended and appreciated.

“Now what would be the announcement?” everybody in the room is guessing. They are all budding journalists and are willing to do anything to achieve name and fame. Each one of them would like to cover the press conference today and each one is trying to find who would be that lucky fellow! Within five-seven minutes they come to know that one of the Senior Editors would cover the prestigious Press Conference. So all of them- the juniors - have nothing else to do but have enough time for some gossip. Such opportunities are rare indeed. The world as if has come to standstill – every telephone call, every news channel is talking about only one thing – PD and his Press Conference.

“Has PD finally accepted the proposed honor of Bharat Ratna?” asks Nandita loudly.  But in that case some high profile Government official would announce it and not PD.

“Has he rejected it?” asks Sameer. But then PD is decent enough not to make miles out of other’s failure. So, it won’t be about any award or any kind of fight with Government.

“Is PD going to return Padmashree Award in protest of tribal exploitations in Niyamgiree in Odisha? Or anything related to the proposed Refinery in Chhattisgarh?” Sahu has another question. But PD had accepted Padmashree long back that returning it now won’t be relevant. PD is shrewd enough to be relevant all the time.

“What would PD by saying?” everybody is still guessing.

“How many novels has he written? And how many awards?” one asks.

“Aranyer Satya, is the best” one says.  “Oh! I like his sense of humor. Do you remember the political satire he wrote about communist power in West Bengal?” another asks. “No, I like the one he wrote about a tribal boy turning out to be Nakshalite the best”, third opinion is expressed. The discussion goes on and on. It brings out three facts clearly: PD is a multi-faceted personality, everybody loves PD and everybody loves PD for different reason.

Time is clicking. TV channels are showing the venue of press conference. All big names in the media are present, cameras are flashing. Mani Shankar, PD’s close friend cum secretary is smiling as usual. He is busy with checking microphone and talking to all the journalists. Everybody is waiting for arrival of PD.

It is indeed strange that PD is making people to wait for him today. Generally, he is a person who abides by his high standards; he is never known to have reached late to any venue or event. Today something seems to be very special.

One TV channel is smart enough to show coverage of area just outside the residence of PD. They would gain extra TRP for covering PD leaving his house and entering his car. The time is running. The press conference is at 4.00 PM and it is already 3.50 and PD has not left his residence yet. Everything seems to be peaceful and quiet there. PD has such a kind of aura that nobody dares to enter his house or call him saying that he is getting late. They all wait for him like the subjects wait for the King.

It is 4.30 PM. No PD yet on the scene. Channel anchor persons are tired of saying the same things about PD which almost everybody knows for years. The speculations of why PD might be late are on – not on the channel but off the camera. People are convinced that there must be something very important and that is why PD is getting late. Is he discussing his announcement with someone placed in a powerful position? There are guesses and guesses.

Mr. Mani Shankar is trying to hide his stress. He has been working with PD for more than 25 years and as far as he remembers, it is for the first time PD is getting late. To his embarrassment, he does not know what PD is going to say to the press. It was decided so suddenly that Mani Shankar had no time to speak to PD about the event.

A senior police official is walking with a constable holding a young child. They all walk towards the stage. The child seems to be frightened. The official calls Mani Shankar in a corner and hands over an envelope to Mani Shankar. “What is it?” Mani Shankar asks.

“This bloody rascal brought it to the security guard saying that it has to be given to you. I just want to ensure that there is nothing threateningly serious.” The officer speaks gravely. The child shivers.

Mani Shankar opens the envelope. Two pages come out of the envelope.  Mani Shankar hides them in his shirt pocket and looks helplessly at the police official. Then he takes a closer look at the envelope.

“What is this letter? Is PD Sir being kidnapped? Is he not well?” the officer demands.

“Well, my name is written on the envelope. And no doubt it is the handwriting of PD Sir. Let me call him first.” Mani Shankar is sweating now. He is under tremendous stress.

 “The mobile you are trying to connect is switched off” – the announcement keeps on repeating; as expected by the police officer.

Now some journalists have realized that some other drama is going on in the corner. A police officer; a constable; with a child and stressed Mani Shankar and no PD. What could be the story?

Police officer pulls both the child and Mani Shankar in another room. Constable follows the direction automatically.

“Who gave you this envelope?” asks the police officer to the child.
“A sahib came on a motorbike and gave me ten rupees. He said he was in a hurry and asked me to give this envelope to the guard at the entrance.” The child is frightened.

“Do you remember the bike number? Do you remember how the man looked like?” the questions are thrown at the child again. He shakes his head tearfully.  “He was wearing helmet, goggle; had beard and his bike was Bajaj …” the child is trying to be helpful. But the officer knows that if he starts searching a man with this description, he will get thousands in the town.

“First things first”, says Mani Shankar. “Let me announce that PD is not able to address the journalists today. That will make us free from the wolves …”

Mani Shankar regretfully announces postponement of Press Conference. The journalists are trying to get reasons from Mani Shankar but he refuses to answer. The journalists are shouting, pushing the microphone, the flash is passing through the wires with speculations.

After about 10 minutes there are very few people in the hall. The child; Mr. Mani Shankar and police personnel.

“Ok, we already have police in the residence of PD and he is not there. So, his ill health is out of question,” the officer says calmly.

“Now what does the letter say? Is any ransom demanded? Who has written it? Can you know the handwriting?” the office continues to throw the question.

Mani Shankar is completely clueless and helpless. He hands over the two pages to the officer.

Nothing is written on it.
They are Blank Pages.
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