Friday, February 20, 2009

Yet another realization

When recession hit our organization, four of our colleagues were pink-slipped. Rest of us who were just lucky or lucky for now, felt bad. The rumours of a "second list soon and salary cuts" echoed in our minds, which stole a good amount of sleep away from us.

We explored all possibilities in case if we lose our job. One of my senior colleagues said he will join a taxi association as driver. I too shared views of beginning a catering unit or a Kerala mess, to be more safe as I don't know anything other than aviyal, theeyal, thoran, sambar or any other vegetarian mallu dish. Space is again a matter. I cannot afford a house for rent in Bangalore if I don't have salary. I pleaded with some of my colleagues who have own house here to allot a room for my cooking too, all in a lighter vein.

At times they warn me not to say bad things repeatedly like this... I told them this is the least effort from my side to make myself prepared for any eventualities. I informed my parents too "expect me home any time". I shared this too with my colleagues that it would be good if they inform me about the job loss at least a month in advance so that I can manage to get a ticket to Kerala without much difficulty! Forget about postponing the trip as it will be practically impossible to stay in Bangalore without salary.

All these happened in the previous few weeks. Suddenly I noticed. Though all are worried about the further adversities of recession, nobody is bothered about what happened to our already laid off colleagues...! Here, business is as usual. It is just a day when a person’s absence is taken as his or her weekly off or is on leave for a couple of days. We, in our organization, constitute a backward minority population in the country which has just one weekly off that can fall on any day of the week. People hardly notice their absence or pretend to be unaware of it.

A thought that send a mild tremor through my world... nobody is indispensable. My absence in my office can be just ignored as my presence...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Losing innocence or missing innocence?

Today morning while reading newspaper, my eyes were stuck on a story, first in disbelief which soon gave way to disturbing thoughts.

The story that appeared on the global page was about a British boy all of 13, became ‘proud’ father of a baby girl! The boy, Alfie Patten and his girlfriend Chantelle Steadman, 15, had a night of unprotected sex when he was 12 and is now keen to be a devoted and responsible father!

My neighbour kid back home — 8-year-old Ammu — recently expressed some doubts which made the whole area laugh. My amma had planted a hybrid pigmy plantain. Though the plantain tree was looking small, it was bearing fruits, a bunch as big as the tree itself.

Ammu was puzzled to see some saplings near the tree. She asked my amma whom she also calls amma: “Amma, this plantain has got kuttis (children)?”

Amma said “yes” which left Ammu totally disappointed.

A pall of gloom spread over her face and she said with all her innocence that began with a sigh: “Then somebody must have cheated it (plantain tree). Otherwise how can it have a kutti at this age”!!!

The same Ammu when she was just 5, left everyone dumbstruck when she revealed something to her mother.

Ammu: “Amma, you know why Sachin (who is another 6-year-old near our place) comes here everyday in his cycle?”

Her mom said: “No mole, you tell me...why?”

Ammu: “He is in love with me”!!!

Her shocked and surprised mom asked: “Is it, how do you know that?”

Ammu: “I have seen him glancing at me. He smiles also. But please don’t tell achan (father) about this. Anyway, I don’t like him.”

Ammu’s mom laughed when she shared it with us then. But I’m sure after reading today’s news she may not be able to take everything so light.

I wonder what impact do such stories make in the mind of children and their parents. Children will no longer confine themselves to the pupa of innocence and parents will no longer see their kids’ acts with the same secure feeling that ‘they are just kids’.

The present century had so far only stories about losing innocence early...but now there is no room for innocence in children. Whom to be blamed, what has to be done... elders are totally at a loss.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Life in a traffic jam

Yesterday morning I was on my way home from my friend’s place. The BMTC bus in which I was travelling, was struggling to make its way through the heavy peak-hour traffic.

When the bus reached somewhere near MG Road, the bus was caught in the same signal for the second time. I was sitting with glass panes of the window shut to escape from the dust and smoke.

Bored with the long wait, my eyes peeped through the glass. There was a car stuck near our bus. Inside the car there was something to make my wait worth it — a rarely noticed side of life in a metro.

A man, in executive dress who was at the wheels, hurriedly having his breakfast, packed in a steel carrier. As he stuffed his mouth with the delicacy packed for him, by may be his wife, the sight fed an equal amount of thought into my mind. There was no one else in the car.

He might have started his breakfast at the previous signal. This signal helped him finish it. He looked up and saw the light was still red. Then he took out his shoe polish from a case and started doing his shoes, which he would have completed at the next signal!

It made me think how the fast pace of life is eating into people’s lives. May be he will have to spend pretty long hours driving and waiting at signals than the time he can spend at home!

Researches have shown that the quality time a person spend with the family at dining table accounts to bonding among the members. May be such researches will never happen in future as the parameter will vanish and specimens too...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Learn responsibility from this home minister!

“You should take care of your children. What can we do if some goonda elements do it? We will investigate who made the girl and boy disembark from the bus and what their intention was. The father should be grateful that his daughter came back home safe.’’

This is not a statement from any ordinary person, but the honourable home minister of Karnataka V S Acharya, in response to an incident in which a Kerala MLA’s daughter was thrashed and abducted reportedly by Bajrang Dal men for talking to a ‘Muslim boy’ who is her friend’s brother!

The girl and the boy were taken to an unknown place by the goondas where she was asked not to move around or talk with a Muslim as she was a Hindu.

No home minister can be more irresponsible. Be it an ordinary girl, not an MLA’s daughter, what kind of security feeling is this minister instilling in the minds of people? The youngsters here are already under threat from the moral police who claim to protect the country’s culture. And ordinary citizen would wonder where the state is heading to.

Would the minister say the same if his daughter was abducted or thrashed in public? How can anybody feel safe when such a minister is holding the home portfolio? After a series of attacks on churches in the state that enraged the whole country, the same minister had said: “Why the fuss? Have there been any deaths? Not a single person is dead.’’

I think rather than asking the girl’s father to be grateful that his daughter came home safe, it would be better if the minister goes home safe before the public lose their patience.

Joy of small blessings

Today morning I was waiting at a bus stop, fighting the sun and the pollution caused by Namma Metro work, on way to my doctor. A granny who may be in her late 70s, in shabby clothes and carrying a polythene bag full of things, came to me and requested me to tell her when bus number 7D comes. I said OK.

After a wait of 10-15 minutes, the bus came, which I also had to board. When I told her the bus has come, her eyes, dull with tiredness and age, lit up. While struggling to reach the bus, she told me, smiling: “Thank you...God bless you, ma...”

I felt so happy, at the same time guilty too as I didn’t deserve such a blessing for a negligible thing. I too was to board the same bus. I didn’t take any effort to help her, but just uttered two words! So grateful for the blessing that spirited me up in the morning, I boarded the bus. I was satisfied that the granny had found a seat for herself.

I was standing holding on to a seat. Another old woman was standing in front of me, holding on to the same seat which I was holding to. I saw the contrast in our hands. Mine was healthy and strong enough to balance me in the moving bus while her wrinkled hands were struggling to keep her in balance. Every the bus stopped, she was looking around for a seat with her pale eyes.

Finally the woman who was sitting by my side got up. I could have sat there but wholeheartedly, I gave way for the granny to be seated... so greedy to grab a silent blessing from her too! My optimistic mind told me I got it...

I was on way for my regular check-up to my ayurvedic physician. As expected, the Saturday crowd there disappointed me. Grabbing a token with a number that told me the approximate hours I had to wait there, I got seated running my eyes through a couple of newspapers there and at times glancing at the digital display showing the token number.

After sometime, a woman (may be in her 40s) came to me and asked my token number. When I told her the number she asked me whether I can exchange my token with hers which was well after my number. She told me with worried eyes that her daughter had severe wheezing and could not wait for long and that she was in the car outside. I obliged and took the token from the thankful mother.

I felt so bad for her and imagined her daughter being helped by her dad to the consulting room when their turn came. I wondered whether the little girl will be able to walk and was really pained thinking about the anxious parents.

Finally their turn came. The mother looked out and gestured to her daughter and husband to come inside. I saw a cheerful 10-year-old girl running inside pleading with her mom not to go inside till she comes! She was hurrying up her dad who was walking behind her!

I was stunned, but the small blessings I received and the little girl who embarrassed my mind which was greedy for another blessing, put a smile in a corner of my lips...

Friday, February 6, 2009

N-test of a different kind

It is just crossing all limits. Pramod Mutalik, the chief of so-called Rashtriya Hindu Sena, and his men are dictating terms to people of Karnataka or rather testing their nerves.

After attacking women in a pub in the name of Indian culture, he now wants to put an end to Valentine's Day celebrations. He says Valentine's Day is an offshoot of Christian culture.. and not Indian! I wonder when Mutalik will demand the government ban Christmas celebrations too.

Mutalik, I hope you will at least try to understand that the crowd in Mangalore pub the day when your men unleashed a brutal attack on them, might have had girls who were Christians or Muslims or Jains too. The Indian culture that you are dying for is purely Hindu culture, right? How can you expect a girl from a different faith to follow Hindu culture?

At a meeting chaired by Mutalik in Bangalore on Wednesday (Feb 4), Sri Ram Sene decided to arrange marriage between dating couples. Sene's five teams will roam around Bangalore with a video camera and turmeric stub. Dating couples will be forced to wed on the spot and will be taken to a sub-registrar's office to solemnize the wedding, according to T S Vasanth Kumar Bhavani, Sene's Bangalore city president. He had the cheek to announce it amid roaring protests from all over against whatever they have done so far. I hope Mutalik will have an explanation where in Indian culture weddings were conducted by partymen rather than by the family of the couple.

Local goons in Mangalore have also issued threats to all young women to desist from wearing noodle straps and tight jeans or face action! Minister for woman and child development Renuka Chowdhury was right. Mutalik and his men are trying to Talibanize India. If he expects that girls would heed to his demands, he is mistaken. He should listen to protests echoing from every nook and corner of the country. Many girls who have never been to pubs have made up their mind to go there at least once. Many girls who were comfortable in long sleeved-dresses are now willing to wear noodle straps and tight jeans! So 'inspiring' were the speech of Mutalik and his men!

I think their brains should be made specimen for some research. It may give links to some creatures that existed before the Stone Age. Mutalik, do you use grinding stone instead of mixer or grinder in your home? Can you ensure that all your family members, including the youngest, have at least seen grinding stones? You cannot link all ancient traditions to culture. It depends on lifestyle.

It is not that all Hindus dress alike or all Christians dress alike. May be if you go to villages, you may find people wearing similar dress, irrespective of their religious or cultural background. Likewise in cities.

If you take the case of Muslims and Christians, they are organized religiously... children are given lessons right from a very young age at madrasas or Sunday schools. I bet there are many youngsters belonging to Hindu religion who don't know who is Rama or Karna. The number will only increase in the coming days.

I wish Mutalik had taken all these efforts and had this determination in curbing female foeticide or rape or dowry deaths or the other umpteen evils with which the society has got fed up. In a country where even two-year-old kids are being raped, I hope you will stand up and say with the same cheek you had while pronouncing punishment for noodle straps, that you will put an end to any one of these evils.