Society Living!

First things first! My sincere apologies to my friends who read this blog yesterday! I was trying the WordPress site on my cell phone; after finishing a couple of paragraphs, I inadvertently pressed the “Publish” button.  The incomplete blog got published. I am now completing my blog; I am sure that those who read it were surprised, but can reread it if they want to!

The modern life has created a new way of living together, cooperative societies, condos or colonies. The concept started taking off in ’70 s of the last century. The idea is kicking and alive. In Mumbai before this was “Chawls” where people lived and in Pune there were “Wadas”. The main thing common in those structures was common toilets. Some homes had bathing places within the homes, and others used a small washing area in kitchens as a place to take a bath. I am now old enough to talk of “Olden Days” or “When I was young”. But I have realised over a period that each era had its fun and difficulties, joys and sorrows. I will meander through these times and share some incidents, anecdotes or narratives.

Now with several people migrating all over India, all the new societies have become mini India’s. These homes have become “homes away from homes”. The neighbours replace relatives, and people celebrate festivals from all religions and areas of India. We see cosmopolitanism at its best!  Later another wave of migration starts and parents of the young ones move in with their children. You have kity parties, Daru parties, senior citizen parties, kids having fun together.  The evenings are full of gala times, and many children are seen playing physical games and remain away from screens of all types. All in all, these are modern mini villages!

The first home I remember was in Mumbai, at Dhobi Talao behind Metro. It was a six-story building. All were two-bedroom flats, and each had its bath and washroom areas like in flats. My father worked for the police force, and the flats were rented by the Government from the owner. The name of the building was Gopal Mansion! We kids had a real time in those days. A fascinating thing happened in the life of Gopal Mansion.

A few years back, S.M.D Charitable trust purchased this building and converted it into a very neat and clean low-cost living facility for people who travel from outside Mumbai for the medical treatment of their near and dear ones. There are many hospitals around this area, and the people get to stay in Gopal Mansion for supporting people under medication and treatment.

Later when I bought my properties, those were in the Societies or Condos. The experience of living and interacting with people is fascinating. I have lived my life after education, in Pune. Shortage of water is common in most areas. In one of the societies, we had severe water shortage. The committee decided to call a plumber and get every water connection in all houses checked. The society consisted of 120-row houses/ townhouses with interconnected terraces for a group of home. One of the persons simply refused to allow checking of his taps on the terraces. One enterprising person suggested that we could go to his terrace from the next house. The tap in his water tank was leaking and water flowing all the time. Leakage must have happened for quite some time, as a lot of Moss had grown up in that area! So much for responsible, educated citizens! He was fined heavily!

In the city of Aurangabad, one fancy condo complex came up, and the homes were quite expensive. It was expected that people would have two cars and a couple of scooters. The facility was provided for these numbers. One guy had 16 cars, either BMW’s or Mercedes! He would park all of them on the premises. There used to be minor disputes on the subject, but recently a dispute blew into something huge. People got embroiled and had fist fights followed by police complaints. Next part is interesting. People had doubts about 16 cars and all and were not sure what business he used to run. Complaints were made to the Election Officer that person is handling cash for distribution in the ongoing elections. There were counter complaints. At the end, when the police came, they found out that the person was already in jail for some other reason! Let me tell you from my experience that the committee is going to find it very difficult to handle this person.

In another society where I have a condo, there lives a known bad element. I don’t live there. I am told that the person uses the house for nefarious activities; he probably runs a high end escorting service. On top of this, initially, whenever he entered the society, he would come brandishing a gun! (In India, Gun laws are extremely stringent!) The committee team went and met him, and they requested him not to display his gun, at least! Luckily he agreed to it! He does not pay his monthly subscription on time! Recently, a committee member saw his car in the society. (the person does not live there) By the time a few people came together (for obvious reasons they meet him in a group!) he was gone! Who will bell the cat?

In another society where I used to live, the nasty person used to live. He was hands in glove with the builder! In the initial phase when the builder used to handle day to day work, this person used to take his cut on money collected from members. During cooperative society formation, he used to help the builder by sharing details of internal meetings with the builder. When he sold his home, he made sure that the society would be required to go into litigation for the money that was due during the transfer! He used to steal diesel purchased to run the generators!

In another society, there was a funny incident. The usual water shortage was tackled by some people coming together to go to each home for checking the leaking taps! While they were doing the checking, they found out that one of the taps in a home was leaking heavily. The lady of the house was suitably embarrassed and immediately got it repaired. The funny part was that the lady was part of the group who were volunteering to do the checking. How can one miss such leakages is a mystery to me!

I know of a person, living in an independent bungalow. He was the maintenance in charge of a large engineering plant! Whenever we went to his house, we would always find taps having serious leakage. He used an ancient 50-year pump (maybe installed by his father) to pump water into the main tank!

My observation is that people have been learning to live in modern homes but have to share responsibilities. One important aspect is that you cannot choose your neighbour! Secondly in modern careers, people travel outside India for work and look for better and better facilities. But they forget that costs are involved and many times pay reluctantly, though they have high double incomes, sometimes. Most are becoming mature but now main issue that comes to the fore is their egos! There are unnecessary disputes and fights just to satisfy egos! But all in all, it is fun to live in these modern villages or towns tucked away in major cities! Merging of languages and citizens for various places in India happens very smoothly.

Salute to common, modern “Society Living!”


Voodoo Death!

Last week an event took place in Pune in a major hospital. A 25-year-old was being treated in the ICU. She was shifted from a small private hospital where she had undergone a surgery, and things started getting out of control! The doctor who did the surgery but realized the limitations of his own and the hospital. Unfortunately, things had veered so much out of control that the lady could not survive and died. This news item came in a leading newspaper and then it became viral. Initial information was, “So and so hospital tries to cure by performing rituals by a God man!” The lady had died of multiple organ failure!

There are many issues. First is that this ritual was performed in an ICU of the major hospital. Secondly the ritual was performed by a “God man” in the presence of the doctor who had treated the patient before shifting her to the big hospital. A video was allowed to be taken inside ICU where hospital nursing staff was partially seen in the video! Initial newspaper report gave importance to the name of the hospital and it appeared as if the large hospital allowed the ritual to be performed in ICU.

So many things have gone wrong in this event that it becomes difficult whom to blame. First and foremost is the ritual! How can a trained doctor allow this, that too in someone else’s hospital? He just took a decision to do it. Second is the psychology! Probably the patient’s health had reached the point of no return. So, the act was performed in desperation! Unfortunate part is that the patients 20-year-old brother was the only relative present and doctor apparently asked him if it was ok to perform the ritual. The immature person allowed this but he himself took the video of the event! How can you allow videography in a hospital room where the patient is on the death bed? The godman performed the ritual with impunity as if it is a daily event for him. It is desperation which leads to such rituals being performed as a last resort. It is a tricky thing to pass judgment on these things.

One event and see how many wrong things have been done! Is it the problem with our society? Is it in our DNA? When I point out something which is not good in our society, some of my friends get disturbed. But I feel that once in a while we should look into mirror and be reflective. The sequence starts with God man’s ritual. It is well proven that these rituals have no effect on events in our life. Still we keep on doing the same. It is illegal to perform such rituals but we don’t care.

Who should be going in an ICU? Why a patient is kept in ICU? Intensive Care Unit is an area in any hospital where critical patients are looked after. It is equipped to handle all type of emergencies that may crop up during the treatment. To me it is an area where “nobody” should be allowed to go in except may be a person who is doing the work of an attendant. But what happens in real life? We crowd the area, we go and meet the patient even though we may be carrying some infection like cough and cold. If an unexpected person goes to see a patient in ICU, excitement may get generated. In a patient who is critically ill, excitement is not good and it can affect the patient’s health. On top of this a video was taken inside ICU! Are you trying to capture last moments of a dying patient?

Allowing this event to happen was definitely hospitals failure. There are systems and processes about who is to be allowed inside ICU area? How could there be three outsiders in that room? Of course, part of the blame is with us too! We must meet the patient, irrespective of the health condition. We will do anything and everything to get the entry. What about the Doctor who was present? This doctor’s hospital had handled the main surgery, so he was very much aware of what had gone wrong! For what he did, does he not deserve disciplinary action from the authorities? Why his license should not be revoked? Will he go scot free and keep on doing what he has done?  Newspapers also have equal responsibility in this blunder. Their first reporting indicated as if the large hospital performed this ritual. It was someone else who came and managed to perform it without the knowledge of the authority. From next day reporting changed but it is a public relations nightmare created by press due to incorrect reporting! This is totally unacceptable.

When will our society come out of this backward-looking thought processes? People may justify and say that it was the last desperate attempt to bring the patient out of difficult health condition; for some it is like going to a psychiatrist! But to me, in all this affair the doctor is the main culprit, as far as I am concerned. I will tell you an event that happened in Mumbai.

In a government hospital in Mumbai, a lady was being advised by a doctor during her pregnancy. This doctor also had her own private hospital. She convinced the patient to have delivery in her private hospital. The lady died during the delivery, as complications came up and her hospital was not equipped to handle complications. The hospital was situated in a hilly terrain and approach roads were in poor condition. So, shifting the lady during complications was next to impossible. The family of the patient took the doctor to court. The doctor argued that the lady was a tricky patient; she weighed 120 kgs. So, chances of complications were very high; death of that lady was not surprising to the doctor. The judge asked the doctor one simple question. When you knew that the case was complicated, why did you ask the patient to come to your private hospital, which was not equipped to handle emergencies. Doctor had no answer. She was jailed!

Friends, let us not do things that are not correct. Let us not look at everything for personal benefit. Let us make a better society, come out of retrograde thought process. Let us keep the traditions but apply scientific thought when we follow them. Meeting sick person is ok but meeting very sick person who is in ICU is not Ok! Let all professionals take modern scientific view of the situations rather than looking through old thinking and continue with old unproven non-scientific ways. All these actions will make a better society. It’s not only about the death of the lady but Voodoo death of the whole system!

False Pride 2!

In my blog False Pride 1, I had mainly written about attitude and behavior of the people. One of the most important aspects in Indian ethos, is that many old practices and traditions have continued. We have songs, poems and writings about clean and beautiful rivers with lovely birds; we have sayings like “cleanliness is godliness”. But this is one area where we have failed miserably.

                                          जहॉं डाल डाल पर सोने की चिडिया करती हैं बसेरा, वह भारत देश हैं मेरा।

Roughly translated, the song praises India, “The place where Golden Sparrows live happily on trees, this is my great Country, Bharat!” The song also says we are peace loving and truthful, disciplined people. Sometime back a satellite was sent in space and was given the work of checking on our great Bharat! They got many high-resolution pictures. And lo what did they find? All the scientists were flabbergasted while studying the photos. The photos were taken by special laser and X ray vision.

All over India they saw bits of paper lying all over and flying in the wind, of course Kachra! All over India they also found a lot of chits of paper neatly bound and stored. They thought that Indians love cookies and as they analysed the data further, they were surprised that cookies were metallic as well as paper cookies! When this data was given to Indian Government, they found that it is hoarded money and gold!

We as a society are proud of our culture but en masse we break rules, we cheat. It all starts with our daily routine. It is about morning ablutions. Even in the year 2018, our government is still required to run advertisement informing the importance having toilets inside homes. In olden times, as there were no pucca homes, using places a bit away from home was natural, though a bit risky. This practice continues even today; in certain parts of India it is macho to say that we have toilets in home but we still go in the field. It is so manly!  But what about women folk?

Our holiest of the river is the river Ganga. It is said that if we take a bath in the river we will be purified of all our sins. Maybe it is possible, I have never had a  bath in the Ganga but I am told that it is very dirty. Many towns, cities dump their drainage directly into Ganga, the tanneries dump their waste in it. Even today the dead bodies are dumped in the river with a belief that the person will go directly to heaven, due to this final holy dip! Successive governments are allocating large funds to clean Ganga but the problem is unresolved due to unclean minds of the people.

Pune, the city where I live, has a pair of rivers called Mula/Mutha. We have the same problem of drainage going in the river without treatment, by design; corporation has not built many sewage treatment plants.  The river Mutha is so small that the water that generally flows, is drainage water. While doing survey of the river bed, while designing the path for Metro, the team leader during the visit asked, “Where is the river”? The municipal corporation shows total apathy, people also add to this apathy. The building and road construction people, dump their rubble in the river bed. There is no check on them, they are never caught even though this is done openly. While driving on any bridge on the river, we see people throw the old flowers and pooja material  in the river. It is supposed to be the correct thing to do so, as per traditions.

Then of course, we have mass looting of sand from rivers, ores from mines mafia. We have sandalwood loot from jungles. There are people who steal electricity en mass. People in certain areas just don’t pay electricity charges; when authorities come to cut their power, they are beaten and forced to go away. I read in today’s newspaper that for high school 12th grade exam in UP, 1 million examinees just did not turn up. The reason? Government has taken strict measures to ensure that the education mafia is checked. Proxy candidates appearing for exams was the norm, hence the absenteeism, now. In Marathwada region of Maharashtra, some years back it was suddenly seen that students became brilliant, their pass % almost reached 90% plus. This was simply due to lax supervision. Once government ensured that district collector was personally responsible they had to make sure that there were no malpractices;  result % of pass students went below 40%.

You go to any major city in India. Vehicles are parked in no parking areas or on footpaths in droves. Signals are similarly jumped en masse. Once the traffic policemen go home in the evening, the traffic boards of “One Way, No Parking, Even/odd date parking” exist just for the name sake. Two wheelers are meant to carry two people, we ride 3/4 at a time! Helmets are mandatory for two wheelers, majority simply don’t follow the law. We see auto rikshas ferrying 12/15 children for school, when the official capacity is 3!

Where is this leading? How to prevent this? Who are the people breaking law? It’s you and me! It is rich and the poor! It is people from city and villages! It is educated and un educated people!  All break various laws en masse! Many of us are proud of breaking laws. We sing paeans of our heritage, our culture, our traditions! These traditions came into being when people lived in smaller places, villages; there was no population pressure. Why old disciplined culture from villages not transferred to large cities? In fact, this same lack of culture from cities is now going back to smaller places. Probably, in olden times, people respected, each other, helped each other because most knew each other. In the anonymous culture of large cities, people just don’t seem to care or bother about others. But again, some of our brethren who live in foreign countries, merge seamlessly with local culture where they normally live; once they are back in India, they are back to their normal Indian behavior. Does this mean that they behave differently in foreign countries not by choice but because they are forced to so?

We have a great culture, which goes back to thousands of years. We have great traditions. I am not able to understand why these changes have happened in our mass behavior in cities as well as in villages; the foreigners politely say, ” Oh, India is a different country!” What is the way out of this? How to coax masses to behave in orderly disciplined way? How to make people understand that cheating in every thing is not the correct way? People say that this should start from school level. But we read of big scams where teachers never go to schools, to get the grants, higher number of students are shown on the roll! Teachers take the profession because many of them are not good enough to do anything else. There are institutions who do not pay the salaries to teachers for months together.

I will tell you story of my cousin. He is a PhD from IIT, Kanpur. After retirement from industry,  he taught his subject in one of the engineering colleges. Then he wanted to move to another city. His college offered him to stay on their payroll. Well they needed a good PhD. They offered him Rs. 1,00,000/ salary per month! So where is the catch? The management told him that they will withdraw Rs. 80,000/ every month using ATM card. He did not join back!

I am not a pessimist! But these are some problems for which I do not see any solution in near future. Do you?  What is it that we are proud of? My beautiful, lovely India is only in songs!