Why, why, why why?

Take last mile efforts to make cities clean and tidy!

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I know that every why, has no reply, but this question still comes to mind! Some years back, my grandson Suyash had come to Pune, he lives in Seattle. We were chatting in our balcony. He asked me, “Aba, why many of the buildings around us are not painted? Are these very old buildings?” Well, the buildings around us were not very old, these were definitely not dilapidated buildings! They were not more than 15 years old! For fixed assets like condos, or bungalows care has to be taken to maintain them properly. Each property has its own design, the exteriors get spoiled due to rains and heat combination. If you visit these condos from inside, the homes are generally well kept and some are really fancy. People are just not bothered how the outer walls look.  

These are mostly middle class and upper middle-class properties. The income levels are decent, these folks work in offices which are reasonably well maintained. They have their vehicles which are maintained in a reasonably good condition. Then why the apathy towards the exterior? To me this is the last mile concept. We as a society are least bothered about the last mile of everything.  

You look at the roads, the bridges, the infrastructure in general. These are always poorly maintained, at least in some areas. Every year we read the stories of corporations missing their deadlines for cleaning gutters before monsoons! Rains in India are seasonal and generally fall during a specific period. Gutters get filled with muck, leaves and what not, all through the year. In Maharashtra, end of the first week of June is the time for the rains to start. So, our friends should be ready with cleaning by end of May. It is not rocket science. But are we ready? Never. Same story is published every year. First rains in any city causes havoc! There is water logging, flooding, power outages, trees falling! The things which are in our control should be done but they are completed only 95%! Last mile concept? Or who cares concept? Why do we not challenge the authorities as a society? Simple, because we never do these things in our own lives, we are poor in implementing last mile solution.  

We strongly talk about our heritage, our history; we sing songs like मेरे देश की धरती! My great country where streets were paved with Gold, where we saw diamonds and pearls spread on road sides! I have shown above pictures of “Gold, Diamonds and Pearls” spread on our roads. In olden days when everybody lived in villages, there was no concrete, we had plain soil everywhere. Cleaning homes was very simple. You clean your home and push all the dust into adjoining soil. In those days there were no plastics, there was no biodegradable stuff! Dust to dust to Soil! But we are so proud of our heritage that we continue to follow the same practice even today.  

We clean our homes and throw things out of balconies! We water our pots in the balcony and water falls on the cleaned cars every day, as some idiots park them below the balcony. Area below the balcony is the official trash can to throw stuff, pour water indiscriminately. In fact, I come to know every day what my friends staying above us, feed their dog on that day! It can be bread or rice and of course meat once in a while. The pieces fall on my car every day. The title of the blog shows my frustration! Mind you, the condos where I live are high rise modern apartments and are very expensive.  

But money has nothing to do with this last mile concept. Forty years back we lived in an apartment where we had a watchman who lived with his family. They were financially poor. We used to give them, besides the salary, all seconds from our home. Curtains, bed sheets and sometimes food which we could not consume fully. In fact, Jaya used make additional food many times, just to give to them. I still remember their small dwelling. It was a replica of our home as all the things were handed over to them by us. (It is not the story about what we did for them in those days.) Their home used to be spic and span, well-kept and properly maintained. When once asked, the lady said when we have an example in front of us, how can we not follow it?

Just a side story! This family was of two brothers. One child of each of them has become an engineer and currently working in IT industry! It is the will to do well, excel in whatever you do, to keep your surroundings clean, it is will to be part of solution and not a part of the problem, that endures you through the tough times of the last mile. In the game of cricket, it is the ability of crossing the invisible line to score a century, that differentiates the best from the good. It is the strong will to do well, that takes you forward.  

In Mumbai, when many flyovers were built, the situation was bad. Diversion road quality was poor. Let me assure you all these things are doable. When flyovers and Metro were under construction in Delhi, the diversions created were as smooth as the original roads.  In Mumbai there are low lying areas; when it rains, the water logging is bad due to topography. But corporation has installed high capacity pumps, permanently.      

How can one like to live in shabby buildings? There a couple of reasons for this. When there is a group of people living together, there will always be someone who will bother only about money or it is possible that some of them will have financial difficulties. But both these obstacles need to be overcome and can be overcome. It is the will to do it! It is your home after all!  When we water the plants in balcony, we don’t bother if water is carrying the mud with it, on the outside walls of the balcony. Expense for painting a building from outside every 7/ 8 years is not prohibitive.

Similarly, about city infrastructure, it is your own city. We elect representatives to handle the administration. Do they treat it as their own city? Or they are interested only in plundering the resources? Are they proud of their home? I have seen these representatives providing benches for people to rest. These are stainless steel benches, very nicely made. There are bus stops which are nicely designed but do we have buses to match quality of the bus stops? Do we have the discipline in keeping the fleet running? Last mile for the bus system is maintenance of buses and cleanliness of buses. The quality is terrible. 

Friends, in the Hindi Film “Munnabhai MBBS”, the hero sees a sweeper in a hospital sweeping the floor. Hero tells him, “Sir, you are doing an excellent job and you are making all of us proud, please keep doing it”. There are tears of joy in the eyes of the sweeper! Nobody had ever told him this. But when it is our own home, our own city, is there a need to be told by someone? Every day, we bathe and comb to make ourselves presentable, every day we have someone to clean our homes from inside. But how can we forget outside? How can roads, bridges remain in poor state in our own city? Let’s all join hands make it happen! Cheers!  

 

 

Paranormal behavior or “Angat Yene” or “Devi Ana”..

This is my take on Paranormal behavior or “Angat Yene” which is combination of suppression of mind and psychological aberration

I attended one religious function recently at someone’s home. It was a Pooja, a prayer to invoke a Goddess with request to ensure that the family remains blessed. It was the last ritual in a series of functions in that family. This was a 50 minute ceremony. Suddenly 2/3rd of the way, a 45 year old lady attending the Pooja, from middle class background and  educated family, started behaving what can be called in Marathi as “Angat Yene”. She suddenly went into a trance and it appeared that she was possessed by the religious chanting that was being sung in rhythm, accompanied by instruments. I had never seen such paranormal behavior in close quarters and definitely not in a known person. She started swaying to the musical rhythm and later she started sweating. Other ladies present stood surrounding her so that others could not observe her fully. Later, when the music and singing stopped the lady slowly came back to normal. By normal, I mean that she came out of swaying and out of trance. She was sweating profusely and looked very tired.

I was quite uneasy in mind and started surfing the net to look for articles explaining such events; naturally there was not much scientific material and probably not much scientific research has been done on the subject. Research may be there but it is more about traditions or “Pratha” and not the science behind it. In one or two places I read something which indicated that people do not want to challenge the old traditions for the fear of backlash. One thing I realized that, this may have been “business” till last century and even today in the rural areas. It is assumed that during “Angat Yene” or “Devi Ana” the Devi or Goddess’s spirit enters the body of that human being. It starts with assumption that the Goddess physically exists! I came across one thorough article by Dr. Prakash Pangu written about four years back. It is in Marathi so all may not be able to read it.

http://www.kattaonline.com/2013/07/how-spirit-possession-happens.html?m=1

After reading this article I started getting some insight. I have used some references from this article but most of the take on this subject is mine. First let us look at the facts. This phenomena occurs in ladies and never in Men. The ladies who are affected by this can be generalized in the age group of those who have active menstruating cycle. This never occurs in young girls or old ladies. It was claimed that these ladies sometimes chant hymns and talk in language other than their mother tongue, during this spell.  Some are supposed to climb coconut trees effortlessly. Dr Pangu says that he has never heard of ladies from Maharashtra speak Italian in this spell. Those who did not know swimming are not known to suddenly start swimming under the spell of the Goddess! Probably they speak a language which may be known to them but is not spoken by them regularly! Maybe some of the ladies were already conversant with the skill of climbing coconut trees.  I want to share one experience with you. My cousin had a nose surgery years back. While he was coming out of Anaesthesia, he started talking a bit irrelevantly. To our surprise he spoke in English all the time! He knows English quite well but prefers to talk with family and friends in Marathi. It appears that effect of Anaesthesia made him speak in English. Anaesthesia and “Angat yene” appear to have same effect on humans! 

All of us get very happy and excited when we see certain events like a concert, a cricket match, or a football match. Sometimes we get overly excited and exuberant. I am sure that there is a switch in our brains which operates when our exuberance level goes beyond a certain limit. It trips or works like a fuse, at the right moment and brings us back to reality. Similarly we react in certain ways in the event of sad things or when we are in grief! I am sure the switch is common for both happy and sad events and it all depends on how the brain gives signal to this switch. In a Hindi movie Munnabhai, the hero says that there is chemical “locha” taking place in his brain. Meaning of “locha” is turmoil! This turmoil causes the human beings to react in abnormal or Paranormal ways.

With this back ground I am trying understand what decides the intensity of the different behavior? Why the intensity goes above normal tripping point? One of the reasons could be that the ladies mentioned probably are suppressed in their day to day life. Though they are educated, they are forced to suppress their natural thought process and they live under some kind of pressure which does not allow them to express their thoughts openly. Combination of this suppression and the brain switch not tripping correctly, probably causes this problem of Para normal behavior.

Lack of knowledge and blind faith is a deadly combination. In olden days when the “Para Normal” behavior started, people must have been surprised initially with this event. But later on some smart people decided to take advantage of this scenario and got control over people! They started telling people that the Devi herself had entered the body of the lady! They glorified the event and started taking advantage of the situation. It was Win-Win situation where the ladies could come out of their suppression, cunning people around got control over surrounding people and created fear psychosis. Maybe the people started giving offerings or alms to the “Goddess” within the lady!

This phenomena was never analyzed scientifically but slowly this may change. Probably some German or American scholar, who has no Hindutva baggage to carry, will be able analyze the event correctly. Another explanation of this type of event is that like psychosomatic illnesses, where people actually get the symptoms, the paranormal behavior does make bodily changes like change in blood pressure or profuse sweating and so on. So what we see is actually happening but the reasons for this event are psychological. Post this event, the person is physically as well as emotionally drained. Hence the tendency of the general population is to believe what is happening is normal and true. It is true but not normal, it is para normal. There is weakness of mind within these ladies which affects them to such an extent that the “Angat Yene” process is kicked off!

Friends, I have tried to understand the so called religious tradition. My take is that the even today nobody is seriously trying to understand or analyze. Such so called traditions are not good for the society and need to be abolished. This is a very serious matter and suppressed women folk should be helped to overcome their inhibitions and their problems. Is it not some sort of exploitation that society doing? Your take please.