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!

Monday, January 19, 2015

219. Inauguration

“Namaste”, the person greeted me in a typical Indian way; though he was surrounded by crowd.By reflex action, I too greeted him, but I did not know him. So I asked a stranger sitting next to me, “who is he?”

“You don’t know him?” he was surprised. Naturally, because it appeared that the person was the chief guest of the program. “He is our MP (Member of Parliament)” he explained. 

I could immediately understand why the MP greeted me. In the pavilion, we were only two women. The other woman was the Chief Executive Officer of the district, she was on the stage with the MP and he obviously knew her. I was sitting in the crowd; talking to people; taking photographs and writing important points in my notebook. Because of camera and notepad, people always assume that I am a journalist. Today, even the MP assumed so. That must be the reason of his greeting. 

The MP was curiously looking at me simply because he was unable to locate me in his memory. He called someone and asked him something. This person asked another person. I had no work, so I was watching the chain of communication. As expected, a person sitting to my right asked whether I was a journalist. Knowing that the answer would finally reach the MP, I briefly explained my identity – not in a spiritual way but mundane! I watched the message travel back and noted that the MP considered me a citizen with no nuisance value. 

I was in a small village in Rajasthan, in an inauguration of road construction under the Prime Minister Rural Road Scheme. No, I had no direct or even indirect connection with this scheme. However, while traveling into remote areas, have always seen lack of ‘Road, Electricity and Water’ as the key barrier to Development. Especially in the absence of a good (or even functional) road connectivity girls and boys have to drop out of school; sick people do not get timely and adequate treatment; vegetables are thrown or used as fodder for animals because they cannot be taken to the market – one can only imagine what the villagers must be thinking in such situations. I have favorable opinion about this scheme and I had never attended its inauguration – so I was excited with this opportunity. 
When we left the highway, and turned to left, this suddenly was visible – allover. The crop of Mustard looks so beautiful.  
Since it was a Government program, we were moving in a large convoy of cars. On the way, everybody in the villages stopped doing whatever they were doing and looked in bewilderment to the passing cars.

We again turned to left and I saw an empty pavilion. First I thought it must be for a marriage ceremony. Later I realized that it was the venue of the inauguration program. 

We crossed the pavilion and continued to travel by a road, which was a typical village road. I saw lot of men smoking in a relaxed way.  It had rained recently, so there was no work in the farm. Because of rain, winter had become more severe. Our car stopped at a palatial house. A well dressed, English speaking person, about 55 years old, received us. He was one of the senior officers in Delhi and this was his native village. A small villager person being in a distinct and prestigious position in the Capital of the Country was a journey worth appreciation. 

Within couple of minutes I realized that the PMGSY road that was to be inaugurated passed the house of the official. In fact the road was being constructed to make his home coming comfortable. Many senior government officers were present and listening to their discussion was very educative. Quality of cement, inter-locking tiles, load taking capacity of the road, the arrangement and space for taking into consideration the need of local farmers to put irrigation pipes across the roads … the senior engineers and experts were discussing a lot. I am not sure whether all roads are constructed by taking into consideration all these quality aspects.

After the round of tea, the servant of the house arrived with another tray full of something. It attracted my attention because none from our group picked up anything (and secondly the servant did not offer me). The servant went amongst the large crowd waiting in the front yard. I took this photograph when he returned.  

A lot is being spoken about the “dangers of smoking” – all that is futile – I realized then and there. 

We went back to the pavilion. With the arrival of the MP, the place was overcrowded within no time.  Then one by one, many people spoke. Fortunately, all the speeches were brief, but they were informative. The progress of PMGSY in the state was presented and the numbers were overwhelming. For example, I remember one official telling the crowd that in last eleven years 8860 new roads were constructed. These roads together sum up to 34795 kilometers and was able to connect 10703 villages. Impressive, isn’t it? 

I could see the unknown faces in those unfamiliar villages and could imagine how their life could have changed because of these roads. There is a point in arguing about destruction of ecological system and all that – but why apply this parameter only to rural roads? They are lifelines for many. 
After the program was over, I saw many women standing behind. Whey they were not invited to join the main function?  Whey they are always invisible? I spoke to them for a while.

We consumed typical Rajasthani food – Daal Baatee and Churama Laddu.

By the time we started for Delhi, the pendal was in the process of removal. Only the tablet of inauguration remained there. 

Will this PMGSY road be ever constructed, or it will always remain inaugurated – I wondered. 

May be this one will come into reality – because it is a native place of a senior government official. And since his brother lives in this village, the officer regularly visits this village. 

However, I am aware that all those roads whose plan is “inaugurated” are not lucky enough to come into Reality!  They die premature death!
* *

Sunday, January 4, 2015

218. Soul-Mates

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 50; the fiftieth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. In association with ​Soulmates: Love without ownership by Vinit K Bansal. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

“Shrirang”, someone was calling very loudly indeed. This was going on for a long time.
Whosoever was this guy, he must have slept like Kumbhkarna- he thought to himself and smiled.  He tried to neglect those shouts. He was irritated that he did not know any person with that name; still that person was in his house; and above all, that person was not responding to the call. It was impossible to sleep now.
He had a shock when he opened his eyes; simply because this was not his house. A glance told him that he was lying on a bed, not in his house but in a hospital. He was surrounded by anxious faces. Except for the doctor and the medical attendant, he knew others well. They were his dear ones; his wife, his daughter and his close friend. What happened to him? Why was he in the hospital?
“Shrirang...” he was startled when Rewa, his wife addressed him as Shrirang! Why was she calling him Shrirang?
 “Rangya! My goodness! How much you frightened us! ” This was his friend Nitin controlling tears. Though Nitin was always an emotional fellow, the tears indicated a serious situation.  But what the hell! Who was this Shrirang cum Rangya?
“Baba… ‘’ his daughter hugged him crying. At other times, whenever she cried, he had to support her. But he realized that today she was trying to assure him. Her innocent gesture made his eyes moist.
 Exactly what the situation was, he was not aware of yet. It was clear that he was not dreaming. He decided to keep quiet until some light was thrown. He feebly smiled at all of them and holding Vedika’s – his daughter’s hand, he closed eyes. 
 “Now, everybody out of this room. He is fine; give him some time to overcome the weakness. Due to medicine, he will continue to sleep, so nothing to worry about. Do not force him to speak. He recognized you all, so relax and let him relax…. ” the fading words of the doctor did not clear his confusion.
“What is the response of WXK00309100114042012?” he asked.  “Asked” – is not the right word though, because he did not utter a single word. His thoughts were conveyed to others without words. It can be called a ‘wave communication’- if you know what I mean.
“There is no response,” said the second – again without uttering a word but successfully communicating the thought.
WXK00309100114042012 was floating in the room, about four feet above the ground level. From the conversation it was difficult to guess whether the center of the conversation was a woman or a man. But a glance at the floating figure clearly showed that it was a woman they were referring to.  She was looking little different than the other five people in the room. She was more tanned. She was wearing colorful clothes. Her face expressed some emotion that the others were not familiar with.  They were all feeling a little lost by the unexpected development.
“Has our experiment boom-ranged?” asked third, unaware that ‘boom-ranged’ was not the word he wanted to use.
“No, this experiment cannot fail; we had prepared every step so carefully. The object of experiment was tested well. And I guess there was never second opinion regarding capacities of WXK00309100114042012. This was not her first mission, she was specifically chosen because of her hundred percent success record. ”
When others were discussing about WXK00309100114042012, she woke up. Sensing that she was at some different place, she did not immediately open eyes. She instantly recognized the change. She missed the smells, the sounds that were inseparable aspects of her life in the past months. She missed the pleasant morning breeze. Happily though, there was no honking on the road. No aroma of the typical food of the land. No chirping of birds.
She tried to interpret the change. Has she finally reached her Soul-Mate?
Out of curiosity she opened eyes and finding herself floating, she screamed in fear. The five people surrounding her jumped at that deadly scream. Not only in this room, but even in their entire universe they had never heard such screaming. One of them looked at her sharply and she came to her senses. She had completely forgotten that floating was but natural here and there was no fear of her falling down.
She kept quiet. There was some noise around her and the five faces were expectantly looking at her, but the noise was unintelligible to her. She thought: Is the Mission over? Did she meet Babumoshai? Could she finally meet her Soul-Mate? Or was she picked up before that? She knew these people around her, she was sure of that, but she was not sure whether it was wise to trust them. She decided to keep quiet and wait for their move. To be on the safer side, she closed eyes again.
“Do you realize that she is not able to comprehend our communication? That is why she is confused,” said one of them.
“And her face looks so different,” another one added.
“Yes, I referred to Knowledge-Bank. The people of WXK003091 call it Bliss or Satisfaction. But I do not know what it means. Let me explore if there is any live demo of such a face,” added the colleague.
“It is indeed interesting that these people from WXK003091 give a name to everything when their knowledge of numbers is even much better than ours,” another colleague said in a surprised tone. Waves of agreement did spread in the room.
“But how could she forget our language in such a short span? She was not only trained but she is the expert of our language. And she was away for such a short time. I find it strange.  ” murmured the third colleague.
“Do not forget that time is relative; not absolute. Also, we picked her from WXK003091 very suddenly, much before her departure was planned. Our plan was going wrong, she was taking initiative beyond the scope of the Mission, and we were forced to hurry. The Space-lag must have affected her.  ” Someone said. Everybody kept quiet, so that must be their Chief.
“Ok. Let us talk to her in the language of WXK003091. I am sure that will work,” he ordered.
“WXK00309100114042012, do you hear me? You are safe here, you are home. Will have detailed Mission Report later, but give me the summary,” the Chief was speaking in soft tone.
WXK00309100114042012 opened eyes. She very well understood the words Safe, Home, Mission and Summary. But what was this WXK00309100114042012?
“My name is Aatmajaa and this is not my Home,” she said clearly.
For the second time within last five minutes, they were shocked.
“What a mess! We had given her some WXK003091 type of name, but certainly it was not this. Check the records immediately. And what were you all doing? She has changed the name, and if the password too has been changed then we have badly failed. Good that we picked her up before time. Hope the Mission is still a secret! ” Chief was indeed worried. 
Shrirang returned home from the hospital. Doctor had advised him to take rest for two weeks. After couple of days, he forced Rewa to resume office. Anyway, Rewa left home at 9.00 in the morning and Vedika returned from school at 1.00 in the afternoon. In the meantime he was not alone but Surekhabai the old maid cum caretaker was at home. He was physically ok but still confused about his identity. Since everyone was calling him Shrirang, he had accepted that it was his name. But he was sure that if somebody asked him his name, he would say ‘Babumoshai’- because that indeed was his name. He did not know Bangla, so from where this name came he did not know. And though it was his name, no one else around him seemed to know it! Why? Who gave him this strange name? How did he get the identity? Who did this? For what purpose? He was tired of thinking. He was frightened – of the unknown and known both.
Slowly, in pieces of talks he learnt about what happened to him. As a Social Science expert he was working with a Research Team in Satpuda range. Dhadgaon had been his second home for last couple of years. Many times he used to go alone to different villages for interactions with communities. On that day, someone saw him lying on the Akkalkuva-Molagi road and by checking on the last call in his mobile, informed his colleague. He was hospitalized immediately. But what caused his fall, he could not tell.
He pulled his laptop. Yes, Gmail account immediately opened, he must have saved the password. Hmm… well, his name, as the doctor had called him was Shrirang Jadhav; no more confusion about that. He checked number of ‘Get Well Soon’ messages and he knew all those people.
He kept on going back. And then he stopped. There was an email from Aatmajaa, his new online friend. After reading one of her articles on ‘Tribal Women in Satpuda’ on a Marathi website, he had written to her. They had exchanged number of messages. She was a good writer. More than that Satpuda was a common object of love for them. She called Satpuda her ‘Soul-Mate’ and coincidently he felt the same about that ancient mountain range. There was nothing to hide about his friendship with Aatmaja. Even Rewa liked her writing.
At that moment Shrirang remembered that it was Aatmajaa, who called him ‘Babumoshai’. Initially he had protested. He hated to have a pet name given by someone whom he had never met and that too by an unknown woman!  He was a stalwart in the virtual world and knew how to protect himself from all those tempting virtual relationships. He had never been wrong so far. But his protest became week. First he just accepted to be called as ‘Babumoshai’ and later he actually liked the name.
After reading her mail, he remembered that Aatmajaa was in Molagi and on that particular day and he was going to Molagi to meet her. But as he had some mysterious accident, they could not meet. But what happened to her? Why there was no message from her? He checked Inbox again. Since that day there was no message from her. Oh! She might be angry – he thought. He called her and was surprised to hear “this number does not exist”. He checked the website where Aatmaja used to write regularly, but no clue of her appearance after that day! Shrirang realized that he did not know any other person who had any information regarding Aatmajaa.
Was this a mystery? No, it must have been a joke played by some duplicate id in the virtual world! Shrirang was angry with himself for his foolishness. He deleted all the messages from Aatmajaa. The sooner he forgot her, the better.
“Ok. Let WXK00309100114042012 take her time. In the meantime brief me, Observation Team,” ordered the Chief.
“These are preliminary inferences and we need to confirm with WXK00309100114042012 before arriving at conclusions,” cautioned the team head. Others nodded in agreement.
1.    People on the planet WXK003 and especially those in the location of 091 have special affinity for names – which apparently is something more than an identity number. We need to focus more on whether the perspective changes based on the sex of the person. In this case both – our colleague and the fellow from 091 seem to be equally influenced by the new name.
2.    But it remains to be seen whose influence is long lasting and we have to take caution that it does not destroy the person. We have to follow the ‘Right to Life’ treaty.
3.    There is an indication that people on the planet WXK003 and especially those from area 091 are in search of a more meaningful identity. What has triggered this quest is not yet clear. Is it part of their living experience (it is called ‘tradition’ in their language) or it is impact of coming into the contact with new world is a matter of further research.
4.    It is interesting to see how technology can create identity crisis. And in this case we just used a very primitive technology called internet. Imagine what will be the impact with our progressive technology.
5.    Many using internet on WXK003 seem to have two words – virtual and real. They seem to play advantage for some but not for others. We need in depth research for understanding conflict of identities in those who are part of virtual world. Also, what are the identity crisis situations in Real world? So, we also need to study primitive people who do not use any modern technology. The important question is how to reach this second group?
“One minute,” interrupted the Chief. “What was that place where she was going to meet him without our knowledge? That was not the plan. So, what is the mystery of that place? Tell me the coordinates, yes, the way they record it,” he added.
“It is 21°59′N 74°52′E and it is called Satpuda range.  ” explained one.
“Hmm... interesting! Another place, another name, seems to be a mystery place.” Added the Chief and he continued browsing for about ten minutes, others remained silent.
“Amazing. Most intelligent. That is why I appreciate WXK00309100114042012. She is so creative and courageous. Ok. Scrap the earlier Mission. We were completely wrong about our hypothesis. However, since it provided us this new direction, it has not failed. Now we need to move on. ” None could follow the thought process of the Chief.
“What next?” somebody asked.
“New Beginning! While designing this new Mission, do not repeat the earlier mistakes. These fellows from WXK003 are a different entity altogether. They have tremendous capacity to feel and to think. Their mind is the key and we cannot succeed by destroying the key. ”
“And yes, WXK00309100114042012 will be the Mission Leader. Do not change her id. ”
Then the Chief turned to WXK00309100114042012, she was still floating with closed eyes. “What name you would like to give to this Mission, Aatmajaa?” he asked.
“Soul-Mates,” she answered.
And she smiled.
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. Participation Count: 43