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!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

172. Mind Games

On that day, I was traveling from Mumbai to Pune once again. During summer vacations it is difficult to travel on this route. Though there are innumerable options, they are all crowded. It is hard to book tickets in advance and even if you have 'reserved' seat, it is of no use is my experience. So, there is an inevitable discussion among the co-passengers on "vacation - crowd - railway reservation - corruption - railway management - government - increased population ..." and so on. Some respond to the situation coolly and some show their experience by saying something like "Oh! This crowd is nothing. Last year I was traveling to ...." 

We Indians like to discuss. The discussion does not end even if everybody agrees. The disagreement is generally on un-important points. These points vary according to the season and situation. On that particualr day everybody agreed that 'the summer is getting intolerable' -and on this the discussion continued. 

In my childhood the topic of summer had a short life. The summer was either mild or strong or severe. Now even kids talk in terms of temperatures like "Yesterday Pune was 39  (degree Celsius), our Mumbai is much cooler you know, it was only 34." The credit goes to 24X7 news channels as well internet. I never find news on TV channels interesting, but people refer to those news bites seriously in various discussions. 

Everybody was sweating during the journey. The price of cold-drinks was making poor parents sweat more. Then the discussion as expected turned towards 'water' and especially 'drinking water." People remembered how the delayed monsoon caused trouble last year and hoped that "this year the monsoon is on time."

The discussion continued. The train passed Kalyan station and then Karjat station. The train was on time. People were planning what they would do when they reach Pune. Outside, the Sun was blazing, the hills were barren and dry. Everybody was waiting for the end of the journey. 

When we reached around Monkey Hill, there was a sudden change in atmosphere. There was wild breeze and the sky was covered with black clouds. The blazing Sun had disappeared behind those clouds. There was the typical smell of earth when it rains .. and within moments we met stormy Rain.

I love rain. Even by its hope, I become happy and fresh. My mind becomes rain when it actually rains outside. 

I was happy. I looked at my co-passengers and was surprised!  Nobody was in a mood to welcome Rain. All windows were hurriedly shut down. The train lost its speed. It stopped for ten minutes in Khandala station and took twenty minutes to reach Lonvala from Khandala. Passengers were not comfortable and everybody was looking at his/her watch after every minute.

Slowly, people started complaining about the delay, about the railway management, about the rain. Someone said, "Why this rain had to come only now! It  could have come later!!" Others agreed. They continued the discussion on 'how untimely the rain always arrives". Some other even suggested that "why it does not rain only on agricultural and forest lands? Why do we people in cities need rain for?" The argument no doubt was unwise, foolish and disastrous. It clearly showed selfishness and lack of understanding and respect for Nature. However, nobody argued and it seemed to be that everybody was thinking on the similar lines. 

I found the change in response of the people around me rather funny. Why are we always dissatisfied with what we have? In summer, have we ever tried to exchange a smile with the Sun? In summer we complain about the heat, in winter we complain about the cold and in rainy seasons we complain about rain. Why do we do that? Why do we behave and respond like this? Why do we think that only a farmer could be happy with the arrival of rain? 

"I should get what I want" is not a very healthy attitude. 
And do we really know what we want? 
Are we aware that our wants, our desires, our demands keep on changing. 
Whatever we have, we are not happy with; and whatever we don't have, we always want. 
What kind of Mind Game(s) are we playing? 
Will it ever end? 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

171. Dedication

Two evenings.
Two separate incidents.
Two different persons.
But we were the same - going through both the experiences.
But our understanding was different on two different occasions.

One famous dam.
We visited the site.
The Chief Executive Engineer was present.

"Would you like to listen to a power point presentation before we visit the site?" he asks.
I am no expert on Dams. I don't understand technical things.
But the person asked me so humbly, that I said 'Yes'.
A good presentation for half an hour, with tea, and on the spot focused answers to the various questions.
I realized that this person is calm, disciplined, knowledgeable and humble.
I like such people.

Half an hour was assumed for the visit of Dam.
It took us two and half hours.
Because this Engineer was giving us information in details.
I could see that his heart was in his work, he remembered history and dreams of every stage in the project. Moreover, he wanted to tell me the story completely.
I was touched by his involvement, his dedication towards his work.
It was as if I was visiting his home - with so much of affection he was showing me everything.
I enjoyed it.

Next evening, we visited a Museum.
This was a small kingdom, there was a king, his palace is now a Museum.
Two persons were there. Initially they were reluctant to allow us inside - but somehow we managed to take a round. I asked few questions and they answered in a matter of fact tone.
I had planned one hour for the Museum visit - but within ten minutes I was walking out of the Museum - dissatisfied.

A woman in her 50s was standing outside.
"Come this way", she ordered me.
I followed her.
She opened the door and asked me to come inside.
There was a an image of a Goddess.
"Who is this Goddess?" I asked.
The woman said, "I cannot speak Hindi."

During next ten minutes, in fluent Hindi, she told me the story of how the Goddess who was originally in the city of Ujjain was happy  with the king; how she promised the king to reside in the palace temple; how the king was asked not to look behind for her; how when  she approached the king's palace she realized that her common devotees would not be able to meet her; how she removed anklet; and how king feared that she is not coming with him and turned around and the Goddess stopped then and there. The king had to build a temple where the Goddess stopped and he built an underground path from palace to temple to visit the Goddess everyday.

"Have you understood what I told you? Otherwise I will have to tell you again," the woman said and I smiled.
Then she showed me many photographs of film stars. It seems that movie shooting happens in this palace  and happens frequently.
Queen Victoria had awarded the king in 1877 - the woman showed me that award.
She also showed me 'dance room' in the palace and also a temporary jail created for shooting of a film.
I was touched by the dedication of the woman.

It was as if I was visiting her home - with so much of affection she was showing me everything.
I enjoyed it.

The woman came to the palace at the age of 18 as a maid servant of the Queen.
She is now 54 - she is staying here for the last 36 years.
Her husband passed away.
Now she works here.

I realized that this person is calm, disciplined, knowledgeable and humble.
I like such people.

I casually asked my team (all men, two in there 40s, two about 25, all working in technical field) - "Do you find any similarity between the experiences of these two evenings?"
They all thought about it and said, "No".

I changed my question. I asked, "Do you think there is any similarity between the Chief Executive Engineer of the Dam and the Maidservant we met at the Palace Museum?"
"Oh! Not at all!!" they said unanimously. "The man was highly educated, holding an important and responsible post, he must be earning a good salary. How can he be compared with this illiterate and low paid woman?" they shot back.

Why do we look at 'dedication' with a filtered perspective?
Why do we think that those who are better educated, those who are more aged, with who hold power position, those who earn more money, those who can speak more languages .. are more dedicated?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

170. Once Again

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 27; the 27th 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 'Once Again'.
Jaaswandee was happy that the bus had not yet turned up. If she had missed the bus, it would have been very difficult for her to survive the day. Today she desperately wanted to go to school; not because she loved her school but she hated her home.

Yesterday evening when Baabaa came home, it was obvious that he was completely drunk.  His drinking was not a rare scenario in the last couple of years or so. Jaaswandee fearfully waited for things to happen; the way they usually happened on such evenings. Baabaa would start abusing Mother – that was the first stage. Mother generally kept her cool, cooked, fed everybody. And then Mother would force Jaaswandee and Amol to go to bed early. Amol always enjoyed this luxury and slept calmly. However Jaaswandee was always kept awake by the painful sobs of her Mother. Throughout the night she sensed something was wrong around her, but never was able to pinpoint what it was. Next morning she would glance at her mother and her mother’s face would tell her the horror story – the same story once again.

On some other days things would become worst. Mother would lose her patience and start counter arguing with Baabaa. Both Baabaa and Mother would shout at each other, accuse each other, abuse each other, threaten each other and ultimately it was always Baabaa who would overpower Mother. After violent attacks from Baabaa, Mother would be left limp and she would just lie down and weep silently – nonstop; for hours.

Yesterday was one of those days. The neighbors were always useless in these situations. Nobody would turn up and offer help. Jaaswandee could call nobody. She had to cook, feed Baabaa and Amol, and entertain Amol so that his attention was diverted. After all that she also had to feed Mother – who generally refused to eat and drink. Jaaswandee had to clean, and she could never sleep on such nights. She had no problems with occasional extra work, but she hated the environment in which the work was put on her shoulders.

Yes, fortunately these nights ended, always ended. With the rising Sun, Baabaa would become sober once again. He would be silent; he would talk to Amol and Jaaswandee with love and care. His voice would be soft; his eyes wet, his face thinking something deeply. He would glance at Mother and whisper something which made Mother smile irrespective of the pain and sorrow. That made Jaaswandee mad at her Mother. How could Mother forget her pain and the beating so easily? How could Mother forgive Baabaa again? Why can’t Mother just walk out with her and Amol? Why can’t three of them together punish Baabaa for drinking and spoiling their life?

Jaaswandee wanted to tell her Mother something that had happened to her last week. She wanted to weep on the shoulders of her Baabaa. But somehow, the whole last week was strenuous at home too. Things had gone wrong too many times and the frequency of the fights between her parents alarmed her. Even Amol, who was so innocent and noisy had become calm and quiet and that was not a good sign – Jaaswandee knew it well from within her heart, she had gone through the same realization process. She had no time for her sorrow, no time to weep, no will to share, no motivation to live.

Reaching school was not fun today. Examinations were approaching and teachers were stressed more than the students. First lecture went on okay. The bell rang, another teacher entered and Jaaswandee’s heart sank.

Mr. G was nicknamed as Mr. Good by his colleagues and students had picked up the name fondly. He was old, very loving teacher. Generally all students liked him, though there were few exceptions. He had his unique way of handling even notorious students. He never had to use any brutal power to control his class. He was good in his subject and taught in an attractive manner. He was famous for inviting select students at his home for special coaching – and that was free coaching. Sometimes he worked with them in the staff room after the school was over. He did not invite only rich students but poor students as well. He did not invite only girls but boys as well. His special effort was considered as a kind of free service in the field of education and in his school circle.

“Submit your homework.” Mr. Good said in a manner which did not sound as an order but in a way it was an order.

Jaaswandee realized that she had not completed her homework yesterday.  

The students moved in a queue – everybody happily submitted the notebooks. Jaaswandee’s legs became wooden. Drops of sweat started flowing from her neck to back. Her eyes became misty. Her hear started beating faster and faster. Her palms were cold. Her mouth went dry. The world collapsed around her.

“Yes, Jaaswandee, where is your homework, my child?” Mr. G was standing close to her. Jaaswandee shivered at his closeness. She wanted to run away from him, but could not.

“Ok, I understand. You need some special coaching. Meet me in the staff room after the last period is over.” G told her sweetly and smiled at the whole class.
“Once Again?” Jaaswandee asked with horror.
“Yes, my dear. Once Again. You seem to need some special attention from me.” He added and chuckled mischievously.

Jaaswandee panicked. She remembered the last week’s coaching. She knew ‘not completing homework’ was just another cause for her own trouble. She had become an instrument in his hand which would destroy her and leave Mr. G unscratched. She did not want again to be alone with Mr. G. She knew she had to avoid him at all costs. She knew she had no one to turn up and share. She knew that she would be punished – for no fault of hers. She had to find out a way – on her own, without any help or support. She knew submitting to Mr. G’s wish today knowingly would be worse than death. Last time she did not know, so she had no option; today she knew- she had to find a way out.

Even before the last lecture began, Jaaswandee walked out of the school. She did not take her usual direction and did not go towards her bus stop. Jaaswandee could see only one option. For a moment, she thought of Amol – who would take care of him if she was not there? But this would teach a lesson to Baabaa and Mother. Mr. G would still go unpunished – but she knew she could not do much about it.

At 6.36 that evening a girl continued to walk in the rail track in spite of shouting by other people and blowing of the train horn. It was a very tragic accident. She died on the spot. She was 13 years – too young to die.

The police could trace her identity from her school uniform and notebooks. Her parents were informed.

Next morning, a young lady teacher in the school whispered, “A girl from our school committed suicide.”
“Once Again,” added someone with suppressed anger.

And the silence comfortably stretched its jaws to gulp everything around.
Once Again.

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.