Living Right Above a Happening Lane

Living “near” a lane or a street is perhaps merely noisy and dusty !!

But after a year, I realize that living right “above” a lane, with some view of an open space and a city skyline, is great fun despite it being noisy and dusty during day time.

One gets to see so much of life…

Dawn : a sky full of purpose, freedom and hope unfolds with an air of freshness, birds fly around and the lake reflects on the soul amid enchanting bells of nearby temples… a little later – one sees enthusiastic morning-walkers, the carefree appearances of the colourful garland-makers, the business of water-tanks, milk supply and newspapers, the hectic pace of the bai (domestic help in India) who otherwise never misses the malli-phool gajra (a jasmine flower garland) :), the time-bound biking cooks, the grunt and the smile of school-goers, the anxiety of job-seekers, the contentment and stress of office-goers, the gazing cabs and autos seeking to be hired… the gathers of daily-wage earners queuing in their yellow helmets and some holding tools… the luring calls of the vegetable and fruit vendors… the errands of the peon, the hopping and laborious tasks of the courier and packer-mover agents………

Noon : and then one can see some cattle grazing on the few green patches near the lake… grannies idling on the lawn, playing cards or chatting and waiting to collect their grand-children from the school-bus..some mummies too can be seen chatting on the phone as they wait near their society gates… vendors of aluminium utensils and other domestic goods start calling aloud as they know mummies, naanis (mothers’ mothers) and daadis (fathers’ mothers) are bored by now :)… the gardener attending to every detail in brown and green… as some men and women are seen rushing home for a quick lunch………

Dusk : the sky and the skyline glow in a golden radiance along with pearly clouds… school-goers flood the streets..now as playful as kittens and the society playgrounds resound with their chirpy echoes… the college-goers who are a bundle of joviality, dreams and achievements now merrily catch up in various groups at paani-poori (an Indian street food) or ice-cream stalls… uncles and aunties are out for a stroll or to shop at a mandi (an open vegetable market)… early office-goers speed back home amid all the traffic hurls and snarls… and then the daily-wage earners return with their aprons ridden with dust, grime and sweat – now the yellow helmet is balanced in the angle at the elbow of one hand, and white poly-bags of onion, garlic, masala (spices), oil and a black poly-bag suggestive of a meaty feast hang from the tired, infirm fingers of the other :)………

Evening and Night : the moon gracing the dark sky… the late office-goer walking down the lane in a relaxed mood with ear-phones plugged in or loud phone calls made to their far native land, boasting how the boss called him up and asked to apply for a visa :)… then the pretty lass (a new office-goer) is heard urging on her mobile ‘kya kundli-kundli karte rehte ho aap log ??..maiine bola na Papa, mujhe wahan shaadi nahiiiii karni..frequency toh bilkul bhi match nahi ho rahi..aap Bhaiyya se bhi pooch lo !!‘ (a disagreement with parents over a marriage proposal which they have approved solely on horoscope match) :)… the hurrying traders and shop-keepers… the closing of gates and the change of guard… the heart-to-heart conversations of distressed and homeless souls………

the other Occasional Scenes of sorrow, delight, interest and concern : a holy janaja (funeral procession), a sincerely chanting humble group of Siridi Sai Baba bhakts (devotees), that..in sharp contrast to a gaudily crazy procession of some so-called god-man, neatly cladded men – mostly in white – returning from the nearby mosque as the Jumu’ah prayer concludes on Fridays, a fleet of Ganapati bappa morya processions, a dazzling view – far, high – and below – during Diwali, a band-bajaa baraat to whose pulsating tune I can happily do a balle-balle in the inconspicuous dark balcony :)… a beautiful rain and the beaming joy of youngsters getting drenched… a talented show of various street musicians and other artists… a lamp-post repair that makes me the first person in the apartment to know ‘ki aaj se apan yahan pe light jalne wali hai‘ (that this part of my lane is thus going to be lit up), likewise the first person to know where a transformer has blown off or which areas in and around have or lack power supply, who’s moved in and who’s moved out of the society… a political rally, a public announcement, a ‘press gaddi‘ (OB vehicle), a street fight, an instance of moral policing, an accident, a speeding ambulance, a chase by the Police…………

So far, so good…

Kuch Khattee, Kuch Mithee

Huh… done with today’s purposeful outing at a mall !

A little over a decade ago, malls were so exciting; particularly, when our generation became salaried 🙂 . It was then when the ‘mall culture’ began across Indian cities and big towns. Almost every weekend or at least the alternate ones used to typically start at some fashionable mall, pace through a royal lunch, then had us fly high in car or bike rides or hooked up at a hi-fi cinema hall, and finally rolled into discotheques or pubs or late-night chit-chats on the open terraces. For some ‘poor guys’, the daytime meant office-over-the-weekend and at nightfall, they would join rest of their folks- again at some mall or pub. Only a few among us earnestly managed their weekend time and energy to learn an art or render services at charitable institutions.

 

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Well, the plus points with well-designed and well-located malls still are “relative” degrees of safety, dust-free environment, clean washrooms, one-stop junction for varieties of food, etc., saving of horizontal space (including parking facilities), streamlining distribution and management of infrastructural resources, increasing levels of employment, ground of opportunities for the ‘modern people’ to practice and teach mannerisms to their kids 🙂 and… good malls may sometimes, plainly map all its sparkle onto empty souls !! The last point acquires great significance when the youth venturing into career options, whether studying or working, in far-flung cities stay away from their families and confront various types of struggle or face loneliness during such trying phases of life; then they are usually prompted to visit a dazzling mall (alone or with friends) and ‘just chill’. That’s definitely a wiser thing to do than idling away in gloominess !

Moreover, malls are also excellent ‘match-fixing’ (matrimonial match-making) spots 🙂 … In many cases, not only the prospective couple but both the prospective families also meet without any hassle or raising their envious neighbour’s eyebrows. The same convenience is explored even for ordinary get-togethers among friends and their families because then the host just has to co-ordinate and make the payments only; he /she does not have to bother about the nitty-gritty in this minutes-starved world. This has therefore become quite an acceptable lifestyle in India.

 

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Hence even if one doesn’t wish to really shop, malls are somewhat good spots to catch friends up all on the quick gossip or catch rays of hope…

But over the last few years, I find malls and cinema halls terribly suffocating. This, even when I need to make serious business. In fact, nowadays I don’t visit malls alone because often I sweat profusely and feel dizzy at times… I don’t know if its the ever-increasing crowd or the insatiable cravings of many people over sales /discounts /offers on various items (branded or not) or their superfluous definitions of modernity or the crazy video-games counters or the jam-packed food-courts or the concrete roof or the artificial lights or the over-lapping loud noise or the pungent perfumes or vague constraints of space and time or an almost total absence of interpersonal warmth, or… a mix up of everything !!! And of course, it deeply concerns us to see many children and youth left unguided for taking appreciable interest in story books, classical music or other forms of art, physical activities or integrated development programmes; rather they too, knowingly or unknowingly, seem to be caught in perturbing rat-races and gibberish talks !!

Neither I enjoy the various online shopping options, particularly clothes because we cannot feel the texture, let alone checking proper fittings. And one usually finds all those famous wholesale or factory outlets stretched along ‘old city’ areas; reaching those spots means manoeuvring huge tasks through the motionless or erratic traffic, dust, noise and stench from nalas (drains) or chemical and leather processing units !

Wish we could still retain the old-fashioned simple layout of shops in lanes and by-lanes of approved market areas in a few places; primarily, to facilitate bad shoppers like me 🙂 and secondly, may be to cherish memories of by-gone days… In any case, at least employment and business would be guaranteed.

I so much miss my hometown shops: the open vertical space around the by-lanes which let us breathe well even in a crowd, see the starry or blue sky and experience the drizzles.. the bindaas thele-waleys (carefree vendors of portable stalls) making hot, mouth-watering snacks and serving tea in little earthen pots.. the fruit-sellers and the florists from the beautiful countryside selling fresh produces.. the fragrance of the incense sticks and neatly stacked items in shops were always so attractive.. the greetings of the shop-owner and his staff (mostly well-acquainted faces) were so warm.. and the music- whether a bhajan (devotional song) sung by a beggar or the flute played by him or a pop number reverberating from a tape-recorder, always stirred up the dullest of spirits. In general, life’s vivid hues graced the senses wherever they turned to. And often, they taught us something wonderful.

I am sure every Indian city or big town has its own charmful notes in this context. Shopping, for any occasion… for any number of friends or relatives or for oneself, was so enjoyable then………..

One Episode, Two Realizations: an Emotional, a Funny

Every year on Rakhsha Bandhan, I remember the early morning gift (a Raakhi and a Coconut) from the priests of Jagannath temple at my hometown. (In this festival, this is also a ritual between temple priests and yajmaans (hosts); the yajamaans in turn gift them due dakshinas.) Being the only child, I used to much look forward to it because to celebrate the occasion, I neither had a brother nor I was/am a brother to someone. Actually, I more desired that someone tied a Raakhi to me ! Moreover, my near cousins were either too young or too old or resided in remote terrains or atheists.

Hence to fill all sorts of emotional gaps on this day, my sister-in-law has now made it a point to include a Raakhi for me too in her annual Raakhi parcels to Bangalore. I was indeed elated with her idea…

Last year, she sent a beautiful gem-studded Raakhi. But while it was in transit, thieves stole it 😦 !

So this year, she sent a ‘Jaga-aakhi’ Raakhi (based on Lord Jagannath’s eyes). As usual, thieves have torn the envelope but it seemed the ‘Jaga-aakhi’ deterred them !! My sister-in-law’s trick worked this time 🙂 .

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The other realization : chor adat se toh majboor hain hii… saath mein, police-ke-dandey aur divya-netron ke ” sirf ahesaas” se bhi majboor hain 🙂 ! (no doubt, thieves have a habitual compulsion… at the same time, they also have another compulsion owing to “mere realization” of police-batons and divine-eyes !)

Reflections: Part-VI

In the epic of Mahabharata…

[I]  King Dhritarashtra’s charioteer, Sanjaya, was granted divine eyes (divya-drishti) by Rishi Vyasa to witness the greatest Dharma- Yudh (War for Righteousness). Seated in the royal palace, Sanjaya watched it all and relayed the same to King Dhritarashtra.

Even the entire Bhagavad Gita is Sanjaya’s recital to King Dhritarashtra of the conversation between Arjuna and Krishna.

Isn’t that just like our modern day concept of live-telecasts via television (duur darshan) and satellite systems ? 🙂

Quite the same with the Brahmastras and Nuclear-war or Star-war; and also with Maya and Stealth technologies ! 🙂

Hmmn… sometimes, man’s conscientious dream or vision leads its actualization and physical perception by thousands of years !!!

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[II]  One sub-section of the epic contains a great Dharma-Yudh Gyaan (Wisdom from the War on Righteousness) depicted by Lord Krishna.


Whether it is on the battleground or in the struggle of life, Success is infallible only where there are these three aspects: Dharma (Righteousness), Sahash (Courage) and Dharjya (Patience);

Rest all traits are merely Sadhan (Wherewithals);

But in the pursuit of Success, along those three aspects, when there is also a look out for Avsar (Opportunity) to weaken the enemy, then such an Avsar itself becomes Chhal or Kapat (Deception or Treachery);

The outcome is thus- that Dharma is devoid of truthfulness which requires an Avsar, that Sahash is incomplete which cannot be awakened without an Avsar and that Dharjya is unworthy whose essence is lost before Success even begins to actualize !

Well… let’s note that the above Gyaan is relevant when we consider only Dharma-Yudh ; the moment we consider Avsar, it becomes today’s Strategic or Opportunistic wars and confrontations within !!! Isn’t it ?
 

Svalpa Adjust Maddee !!!

We are a highly populated country with intensely varied demographies and inadequate infrastructure. Perhaps due to such factors and somewhat due to our inherent liberalism, since childhood we come across these two terms on a routine confrontation “thodda adjust kar lo” (svalpa adjust maddee /please adjust a bit) and “chalta hai” (its okay).

And sometimes that “thodda” / “svalpa” / “a bit” is tremendous 🙂 !

It becomes our habit, then reflects in our behaviour and finally forms our attitude towards almost everything in life !

So much so that at one point, we either forget (do not realize) how to justly rebel or become simply lethargic in voicing our deepest concerns even against things we stood object right away !!! We quietly accept everything, whether subtly or openly- whatsoever unfair it is against us, our families, our societies or our nation.

From the vital healthcare industry to an ordinary kiraana shop (general stores), we keep hearing these two terms.

On my birthday last year, despite proper instructions, the confectioner in the by-lane in front of our apartment wrote my hubby’s name on the cake and that too was mis-spelt. Let alone offering a replacement, the confectioner advised us thus, “anyway, you are a couple na… svalpa adjust maddee” 🙂 !

Well, coming to a serious context… Down the line, when we join a profession involving thorough interactions with disciplined clients (may be desi or videsi), or we are posted abroad in a culture where there is no such ‘adjusting’ business, we find ourselves stuck somewhere. If not for all cases, still quite often, we are then unable to realize what the problem is and end up grumbling that the other person is “such a strict customer” or simply “such a rigid felaa” (friend /acquaintance /colleague /boss) 🙂 . This also happens when we over-commit on deliverables and on our failure to duly meet those targets, then fervently seek all sorts of adjustments and re-adjustments from the other person !!

Worst of all : since many things can be adjusted as “chalta hai” (even when they are not at all okay!), in the process, sometimes we don’t even learn some of our basic rights !! Politeness and generosity are fine but not at such a cost !

Hence, as sensible elders, I believe it is very important on our part to teach children a right BALANCE between tolerance /acceptance and rebel /objection, particularly in any Indian society.

Irrespective of our global status or rank, let’s together address this attitudinal issue and write a new chapter for us… Primarily, it shall serve us good within.

Reflections: Part-V

Here, I actually have one reflection and one confession…

Reflection :

The morning cuppa tea tastes the same. But three things that have certainly changed along with it are –

1. the basking temperature
2. content of the newspapers
3. ‘chaaye pe charchaa’ (chit-chat during tea-time), including the medium of ‘charchaa’

That reflects so much of life !!

Now we realize what that cuppa tea meant for our parents, teachers, elderly relatives and college seniors in stirring up their days…

Confession :

Whether ‘Act of God’ or ‘Hand of God’… 🙂

In any World Cup Football, whether Argentina wins or loses…

It remains my favourite team because of that old teenage crush on the heroic image of Diego Maradona !!!

Now, reacting to the result of this World Cup Football, let me thus confess…

My weakness for Argentina, as always : Maradona !

My weakness for Germany : whether right or wrong ideology – Netaji’s ally in our freedom struggle, and my first posting abroad !

Dil bola : gam hii sahi… wohi manale… tab tu phir bhi Maradona ke saath hogi (even though I had opportunity to rejoice, my heart swayed towards defeat because that way, it would still mean to be with Maradona) 🙂 !!

A Very Interesting Film

The following content is not a movie review.

I would merely like to suggest this movie which is hardly heard of now but immensely interesting and brilliantly performed by the cast. Some readers might have already seen and appreciated it; others, I am sure shall love watching it.

And I request you to watch the movie WITHOUT knowing details of the plot. Only then you can enjoy the play thoroughly !

The movie is: Ek Ruka Hua Faisla (1986)the Hindi remake of the American motion picture 12 Angry Men (1957) .

Originally written as a teleplay by Reginald Rose, the Hindi version is directed by the famous Indian film director and screen-writer, Basu Chatterjee. Barring merely a few scenes, this drama film uses just a single set !

Here’s a brief account of it…

A teenage boy from a slum is on trial for allegedly stabbing his father to death. After final closing arguments are presented, the Judge instructs the twelve-member Jury to unanimously decide whether or not the boy is guilty of murder. The Judge also informs them that a guilty verdict will imply a mandatory death sentence.

The Jury meets in a separate room to discuss and conclude the verdict. Initially, it appears to almost all of them that the boy is guilty and therefore, they talk about quickly releasing their verdict and winding up their day. But soon it is learnt that Juror Number 8 opines a “not guilty” vote in a preliminary tally !!

From here onwards, the movie is centred on various opinions and reasons of the twelve Jurors, either in holding the boy “guilty” or “not guilty”. Some of the Jurors display personal prejudices but Juror Number 8 focusses on the circumstantial evidences of the case and throughout, seeks a fair deliberation for the boy. The film also depicts certain techniques of consensus-building among a group of twelve men bearing intensely conflicting personalities.

After periodic discussions, votes are cast through the system of secret ballot and finally, the unanimous verdict is inferred.

No names are used in the film; the Jury members are identified by numbers until two of them exchange names at the very end; the defendant is referred to as “the boy”, and the witnesses as “the old man” and “the lady across the street”.

Noteworthily, 12 Angry Men was selected in 2007, for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Well, I have not watched the original American cinema but that too must be simply great. However, I must say that the Hindi title Ek Ruka Hua Faisla (a pending decision) sounds more catchy and apt 🙂 !

And thanks a ton to my hubby for making a wonderful evening by arranging this amazing movie.

Aamjunta, enjoy either of the versions and post your thoughts here…

 

 

 

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