Are you exhausted? 

The other day, I was speaking with my friend Sudhakar about a blog I had written. Many friends discuss my blogs with me, and I like it when others write their opinion. These interactions activate my brain cells to think further. Different views make me understand how others feel about the subject. My blog is unimportant to me, but the discussions are critical. These discussions help me to think more broadly.

Sudhakar asked me if I get exhausted after I complete a blog! Honestly, I do not know. My favourite subject is human relationships and human interactions. I write on different topics, but these are the topics which I enjoy, the most. But recently some of the blogs I have written have been tough to handle for me too! The subjects have been difficult like the pandemic, resetting of life, Corona experience of my family member living in London. I came to know yesterday, that another family member living in Singapore was in-home quarantine as his colleague in the office was found positive. Usually, our thinking is that accidents, cancer and heart attack happen to someone else and in some other families. We feel that we are always safe. But the moment events hit our family, we realise that nobody is safe in this world against such occurrences. There is solace that this is part of nature. These events bring to our mind the fact that a hundred years in human life is not even a blip on the big canvas. Yes, I do get exhausted when the subject handled is tough. Sometimes, I get incredibly irritated too!

Human mind and body are the ultimate designs created by Him. Sometimes we feel that we are superior or bigger than Him! But do not forget that it is He who has shaped our mind; we can think that “We are the Best”! It is like a democracy where each person can express his views, but that person must fall in line with the bigger picture. Let us go back to my blogs.

Sachin Tendulkar played his first innings in one day international as an opener against new Zeland. It was a life-changing event for him.

Sonu Nigam similarly has a life-changing song displayed below from the movie Pardes. He feels that it is his iconic song!

On similar lines, I can claim (ahem) that “Dance of Civilisation” is my iconic blog. Okay, am I bragging by comparing me with two greats? Friends many times tell me that I am a show-off, anyway!

On a serious note, I used to totter in those days when I wrote my blogs. But when I wrote the title “Dance of Civilisation”, I knew how I was going to complete the blog. The idea had come to my mind to slow down the time to match my granddaughter Rhea’s speed- she was two years old. The journey involved from home to the Mandir and back was a five-minute journey. We used to extend it to forty-five minutes! I started absorbing the happenings around. I had started enjoying that journey with her by slowing down my speed by meandering instead of making a quick visit to the Mandir. I began to understand the meaning of slowing down; over a period, I have learnt this art of slow journey.

It also reflects in some other blogs like “Do nothing Holiday”,  and “Montreal Musings” (five blogs). Is it worth rushing into everything? Is it necessary? Do I want to eat my Alphonso Mango in a jiffy or I should enjoy it at leisure? Rush. Rush and rush has been the name of the game for the last 30 years at least. But why? Why are we always in a hurry? Writing the “Dance of Civilisation” blog did not tire me; it showed me a path of slowing things down.

There have been some obituaries. These are about some public entities and some persons who were personally dear to me! While writing obituaries, there was a bit of sadness- most had lived a reasonably long life except Sridevi. While writing these blogs, I reminisced in the old times about the joys these people had given me, the guidance they had given me. By this time, I was old enough to know that everyone must go at some stage! Luckily in the case of Mr Sen, I could meet him at his grandson’s marriage reception, a few days before he died. In the case of Maheshbhai, Jaya and I met him and Nauka in Bombay home for almost an hour, a couple of months before his death. It reminded me of my chat sessions with him in Aurangabad and our visits to Tara Paan house in Aurangabad. When people close to you pass, it is best to remember good times with them and enjoy them.

I have taken many journeys to my school days, Dhobi Talao days and COEP days. These travels back in time, always refresh and rejuvenate me. I remember many old friends, events, stupidities and fun. I am sure all of us have this phase in life, and enjoy the times shared with these friends from old times. It saddens you when you come to know that your long lost friend is at a stage where you will never want even your enemy to be! Recently I came to know about a friend who is psychologically shattered. Such events show you that in the best times of our lives, childhood, we never imagined which path our friends will find during their lives. A friend became alcoholic- he tended to be risky in childhood too. But the friend mentioned above could be called an average person, was dealt a lousy hand by destiny. Even at the age of 70, I find it difficult to accept this situation.

I was surprised when Sudhakar asked me if I get tired after completing a blog. After thinking in leisure, I admittedly feel some emotions, including feeling exhausted. That is the initial reaction but, in the end, what I get is a feeling of satisfaction and achievement. I get this feeling when I can write some blogs in one go! When I write about certain subjects, I know from within me how the blog will come out. But sometimes, I am not so sure, but at some stage during writing, things click in mind. Then I know that I am through! I get intuition when I am writing some blogs, but in some cases, I plod!

I knew why Sudhakar asked me this question. He is a prolific painter- he is also a civil engineer! For him, the painting is a new creation, every time. In my case, I can delete and rewrite a few sentences or even paragraphs. But while painting, I don’t think that is possible. The limitation must be exhausting Sudhakar, every time he completes his painting.

A painting by Sudhakar on Ramnavami!

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-12 at 16.29.30

Election musings!

Dance of democracy is on, and words after words are written, spoken, shouted on TV. People are feeling happy about the largest democracy going through its rights, luckily now every five years! All this is bliss, what more do you want in life.  People are seen debating on TV to enlighten people of what, I am not sure; in the slanging matches you can’t understand what is being said. In public meetings the leaders, the candidates are offering schemes and money. It appears that even funds available with the World Bank may not be able to provide cash to fulfil promises given to people. A billion here and a billion there does it make any difference to the speakers? But one thing is for sure, despite the politicians the nation’s do progress, things change and improve, albeit slowly. Indian growth in the last twenty years has been phenomenal.

What are the feelings in the minds of the people? For those directly involved in politics are excited and are looking forward to winning the election. Why is the win so important? It is the ticket to wealth. Barring a minuscule % of candidates, most are millionaires and billionaires. During the five years after the previous election, the wealth of many of these candidates has galloped. They never seem to work the way all of us work on a day to day basis. The assets jump beyond imagination, but it appears that all are hand in glove; no politician is ever troubled by Income Tax people.

Percentage of people voting does not change much except in a few constituencies. Why does this happen? There are so-called middle class and higher middle-class people who are too busy to vote, and there are people too poor to have time think about elections.

People, in general, look at democracy and the process of justice as if it is a wild animal; they look at it as a mirror where they want to see the reflection of their own eyes, nose and teeth. The picture is not very pretty. Probably it brings a thought in their mind that there is no alternative to the situation and they accept that they get the candidate they deserve. The feeling of desolation comes to their mind after realising that things may never change. Optimism is good, but after seven decades of Indian democracy, it is observed that things are going from bad to worse. The ugly words are used to describe opponents, calling the head of state a thief, calling a senior leader and his family as a family of marauders. My knowledge tells me that Loksabha and Rajya Sabha are the highest bodies in India. The speeches made there and allegations thrown at each other cannot be taken to the court of law. But the statements made in public are equally terrible, but the action taken by election commission is to debar these people from making speeches for a few days during the election rallies!

People go to the voting centre with a frame of mind as they go to any government office; with half the expectation that their name may not be there in the official list. They are in the least bothered if voting is done electronically or using ballot paper. On the voting day, the voter gets up tying his shoelace and hopes that his vote will improve pollution in the city. Though the initial thought that comes to his mind is, from where will he get his next meal? The ideas in the minds of the candidates are when will they be able to get a BMW or a Mercedes after this election. The candidate does not have to worry about improving the condition of the poor; their party has already declared that they will give a dole of a few thousand Rupees in the bank account of the poor. It is a collective responsibility which is conveniently considered as nobody’s responsibility.

Why is this apathy shown? Why the numbers of people voting not to go up? The first significant reason could be errors in creating voter lists. Over a period, the errors have come down, but still, that apprehension of missing names does not go away. Jaya and I have been lucky that we have taken part in each election. In the last election, my name could not be located for a long time when I went to vote. Since we have the same home address and have always been listed together, how could my name got transferred to some other list is still a mystery to me? This time also our names have been found in the list when I did online checking. What can happen at the booth is another story.  Please read my blog on the similar subject written sometime back.

The second reason is that now a lot of people migrate within India. A person moving from Ahmednagar to Bhatinda does not know anything about local politics and candidates. Such people sometimes do not register themselves in the new place and don’t vote. In the days of the internet, a system can be created where people can have the option to vote at their original location. There will have to be checks and balances. But it is doable. A person’s vote should be able to travel along with the person.

This apathy of not taking part in the democratic process can lead to Brexit like situation. When the referendum was held in Britain, the young people stayed away from voting as they did not realise the meaning of the vote. When Britain voted to come out of the European Union, the young people and not so young people realised the folly of moving out of the EU. Being in the EU means to travel without a visa. There is easy access to around 25 countries in Europe for work and leisure. During our holiday travel to Europe a couple of years back, we have observed the ease with which travel is done. By stopping and checking at borders a tremendous amount of time is wasted. For those who are travelling for work, it is the waste of productive time. But now both Britain and the EU are in great turmoil as the majority in Britain want to remain within the EU. But it is not easy as there are laws and rules in an international relationship where it can not be based on whims.

There are liberals, prestitutes, bhakts. Liberals generally discuss the democracy with a glass of Chivas Regal. I am not sure if they are worried about the conditions of the downtrodden. But they support Naxalites movements and are generally anti-government. When the party in government lose an election, then they become partners with liberals. Prestitutes are “Intellectuals” and sometimes appear as if they are paid by someone to air their views. Somehow, they are anti-common view and anti-majority. There are bhakts present in every party who religiously follow whatever their  “God” will say. All these make for small but loud numbers; substantial numbers go by issues on hand, economy, development, international relations et al. But finally, it comes to a vast number of people who are swayed by money paid against each vote, as their primary need is to come out from jhuggi to at least a brick house. They don’t want the struggle of day to day living problems like power, food, water and sanitation. These are things which you and I take for granted. But will these people go and vote in large numbers if their problems are resolved? Maybe not, they will then treat the election day as a holiday like many people do and start enjoying a free holiday.

Three cheers for democracy!

Abode- Musings about first phase of my life!

Dictionary meaning of Abode is a place of residence; a house or home. The meaning is given in a few words, but a much-hidden meaning is there in this word. This word fully covers the life that we live. There are many hidden gems linked to everyone’s life. The Abode can be a tiny tenement to a big palace. One may be a pauper or a king in his life, but in one’s Abode, you are always the king. There are joys and sorrows, love and hate, births, deaths, birthdays, weddings, preparations studying for exams and what have you. I could probably write about my every Abode, one big episode, but I thought writing about distinct memories and events from each phase would be more appropriate.

The first Abode that I remember was in Andheri, a western suburb in Mumbai in the early ’50s. It was a set of buildings, and I don’t know what these clusters of buildings was called in those days. It was my first Abode. That is where I made my first friend, Pradeep Gavankar. Pradeep and I are in touch with each other even today though infrequently. Pradeep has settled down at Houston in the USA. Thirty years later, I visited Sharad in Andheri; I went to see these buildings which naturally had become dilapidated structure. I could see myself playing cricket (by playing I mean hanging out as I was too small to play) or playing hide and seek. I also remember going to school walking in the direction of the railway station.

As I am writing about my different abodes, many thoughts simply rumble through my mind, so many memories, new experiences and new people. We, humans, are hoarders of experiences, friends and memories. They are all hidden in our grey cells somewhere; you only need a little input or a tinkle in some format to get it to display in your kaleidoscope.

My father was a Police Officer with a transferable job. From Andheri, we went to a small town called Ahmednagar, about 250 km from Mumbai. We had a small bungalow quarter. A couple of things I remember distinctly are that I had won some kind of running race in my age group and people were clapping when I received the medal; I was probably the youngest in the group! Then the surprise of surprises! Some dacoits decided to make a housebreak and steal things from our home; Diwali had just ended so dacoits must have thought there would be some stuff worth stealing at our house. When dacoits came in at night, I was in bed with my mother and I still distinctly remember hearing a hissing sound as if something was being pulled out. I told my mother that I heard something, but luckily she thought I was dreaming and put me back to sleep. The dacoits, when they were caught, were shocked to know that they had broken open a Police Officers home; they said that they had planned to kill any person who woke up during the event. Luckily my grandfather also did not wake up though he was a very light sleeper.

Then we moved to Pune for a couple of years. Pune is halfway between Ahmednagar and Mumbai both distance-wise and culture-wise. We stayed in a rented home this time; I was in 3rd/4th grade and made some good friends whom I remembered later in life when I shifted back to Pune again ten years later. I used to go to school walking through small lanes with friends. You will be surprised to know that all the lanes have hardly changed except some homes which have been rebuilt. Once we heard that some army tanks were going on the main road (those were different days). ¾ of us were running along with tanks on the footpath. After sometimes, we were so engrossed, we did not know that we had crossed our school. We had never done that before! In those days it was almost end of town. For the benefit of those from Pune/Mumbai we were running on Jangli Maharaj road and had crossed Modern High School. Today this road is one of the busiest road and right in the centre of the city and not end of the city! Then there was one big fire about ten Km from where we stayed. We could see plumes of smoke from the fire in the timber market. Those days buildings were so small we could easily see the smoke at that distance!

Later I came to know my father as a Police Officer had to get involved in handling many things with that fire. Two more incidents I distinctly remember from this Abode. We had a remote room to ourselves on the first floor. While playing there with a friend, I had inserted a screwdriver in an electrical socket and boom….. I don’t know what I did, but our fuse had blown off, luckily no injuries for both my friend and me. In another incident, near our home, there was a motorcycle accident. Motorcycles were not so common in those days. There was a small crowd to see this, and luckily the injured person was moved to the hospital, but I can still visualize the mangled vehicle, my first!

We changed a few homes during my lifetime and but I always moved on when the change happened. I know of people who keep on having a high affinity to their native place and the home there, even after 30/40 years. I think people are made differently. When I lived in a particular house, I, of course, had a high affinity for the place but I could handle the change effortlessly and always moved on.

From Pune again we moved to Mumbai and for about ten years lived in Dhobi Talao area just behind Metro Cinema. What days we had in that Abode! In this Abode, I completed my school education and joined college too! Those were my formative year in my life and what fantastic facilities and set up we were lucky to have. It started with my re-meeting, my friend Pradeep as we went to the same school (we did not know that) and met on the bus as he had moved from Andheri to Colaba. I went through my adolescence pangs in this Abode. The typical awkwardness in dealing with female species, rebellion for and against everything parents would say, craze to do everything possible and playing sports all the time, exams were just a nuisance. Near our home, there were three sports grounds, Cross, Azad and Oval, but for some reason, our favourite was Cross Maidan. We had Brabourne stadium, where I watched a few cricket test matches, close to our home and Marine Drive promenade was also close by. We had the facility to play Badminton and Table Tennis in Police Sports club. This facility allowed me to be a part of my school team, which won the tournament when we were in 11th grade! During the holidays we were in the Police club all day. All these Maidans were used by us to play cricket, and during monsoons, we used to play football. Monsoon was also a golden opportunity to hang around the Marine Drive with massive waves breaking on the retaining walls. ( We used to walk on retaining walls!) On the Maidans, there used to be a Ramlila program during Dassara festival; we were allowed to go and see those religious dramas. But our main aim used to discretely watch the couples, who used the Maidan to meet for a bit of privacy! Our building was bang opposite Metro cinema on the backside. We used to get excited if we were allowed a movie there. What style it had! The ushers used to wear Gray Jacket, Light brown trousers and bow tie as uniform! We used to be suitably impressed. The theatre was air-conditioned and used carpets all through! Later on, we became friendly with an usher Sawant. He was multitasking at Metro. Ushers had to work for a short duration during the show. In remaining time he was an artist, he used to paint the posters that were displayed at the theatre. Our friendship helped us once in a while, as Sawant would allow us to watch movies on the sly via back door if there were empty seats! Eating out was considered a sin in those days, especially with roadside vendors. Near our building, there used to be a Ragda Pattice walla, but we were never allowed to eat with him. Even today I love to eat Ragda Pattice!

I know I can keep going on and on! There are so many things I can share with you, but I may end up writing a book! I realized that our life is a combination of experiences that we gain. Our Abode is the base that nurtures all our thoughts, helps to inculcate different values, nurtures bonding which sometimes lasts all through our lives. You meet so many different people when you change abodes; this helps you to take the best from different people. I have become Cosmopolitan as I lived in Mumbai during the formative years. It has helped me mainly in my future life. I think that will have to wait till next one!  Cheers till I talk of Elphinstone College, COEP and so on…