Life will never be the Same again

When I was preparing myself silently for one of the toughest battles of my life, I asked people to pray for me, not because I don’t know how to pray, not because I wanted to win it, but I knew I have to fight for my 120-crore countrymen. May be a thousands of us will face the most powerful entity of the country, the government and whole of political class on behalf of the whole nation: on behalf of the aged freedom fighter who has been deprived of his pension because he denied paying bribe, on behalf of the poor Ahmadnagar farmer who has to commit suicide, on behalf of the 14 RTI activists who were killed last year because they dared to lodge their protest against this corrupt system and many more. I wanted to be a thousand times of me when I step my foot on this uneven battleground.
16th August was the D-day. And before I leave my home, the first news that came was the arrest of almost all the members of the core group of Anna team. We were ready for that, Ms. Bedi already told this last evening “May be we would be arrested for an indefinite time. The movement needs people who believe in the cause to stand up and continue it.” I called my dad. I was not sure whether I would be arrested, too. And I wanted to talk to him before I start my journey. He told “Talk to your colleagues. Don’t court arrest all together. It’s necessary for some people to stay outside to continue the battle.” And I knew the real battle has started. We have to chalk out the strategy.
So, when we reached near Pune Municipal Corp (PMC) building, we were like “Is the police going to pick us up from here itself? 144 is already imposed here!” A police van was strolling around. Some of our members went to them, talked to them and asked them whether they were going to arrest us from there itself. They told “You people are going to join the main venue at Balgandharva from here, right? No, we wouldn’t do anything to you people.” The first surprise of the day! And such a nice one! We started our journey with around 50 people from there, we knew group of people were rushing in from different places of Pune to gather at Balgandharva.
And when we reached there, what a sight it was! Hundreds have already reached. And each and every team joining them was getting warm welcome with patriotic slogans! Polices were quite a few in number, vans were also not aplenty! And as the day went on, thousands kept pouring in: college students, young and aged couples with their children, workers, teachers, ex-army men, and housewives. It was tough to find out whether any strata of society were left out! Our team members were becoming impatient “When will they arrest us? Anna has told us to court arrest, right? Then why are we waiting?” The youngest one, Divyang (who is just 16-year old) took the placard written “Please Arrest Me” and walked around the police vans for a couple of times, but nobody cared. He came back and wrote “I am Anna” on it and told “This time, they’d surely arrest me. Just wait and watch.”
Around 4:30, police brought three vans to arrest people. This is the first time in my life as if I visualized history. People were almost mad at who would go first. We were trying to tell them that there would be more vehicles and they might go later. But they were adamant “No, I would go in the first van.” People started rushing in the vans with tricolor and “Vande Mataram, Bharat mata ki jay” on their lips. Each and every van, when they started moving got clapping and accolades from people outside. As if some kind of celebration was going on! I saw 3 vans and 20 more buses going, more than 4000 people courted arrest. I have read about the freedom struggle in books, didn’t get a chance to see that. But it cannot be more than this. As if we were seeing history being repeated in front of our eyes!
It is history now. It was a total of 13 days and how the days were! Sometimes, we volunteered around 40,000 people to walk in a rally without any traffic disruption, sometimes there were human chains couple of kilometers long, sometimes there were foreigners who came to stand beside us, telling “We are following up the story and we support the cause.”, sometimes after a hectic day, an ex-school teacher had offered us tea in a roadside shop, telling “You have a long fight ahead. “, sometimes police had let some of the youngsters go on the way from police van, told them “You people are doing a great job. Keep it up.” Our hand, legs and throat would pain badly after the day, but I couldn’t sleep for long. It was always like “When would the day start!”
As if we were living the soul of India within us. Harshal told a strange thing while managing crowd in the maharally “I am feeling all these people are my own, we are fighting for them only. All are my own people.” It was so very true! We lived as Indians literally for those 13 days. In the hub of regionalism, we shouted slogans in hindi, took oath in hindi, and nobody bothered. A sikh, holding poster bashing our sikh PM, a hindu boy taking a muslim boy on his shoulder and dancing in the tune of “Mohe rang de basanti” , and everything so organized, nobody uttered a bad word for other, while travelling, we used to meet people holding rallies on different streets, we would shout “Bharat mata ki”, they would shout back “Jay”, as if some celebration was going on!
Finally on the 12th day, when parliament bowed down to their real masters, the people to discuss a bill drafted by people, lakhs of people watched them doing it with utmost care and scrutiny so that their representatives can’t fool them again. This is what we aimed at, all our efforts to define the real meaning of democracy and confrontations that we were not part of any fundamentalist or communist group bore fruit. This is what we wanted. We wanted to invoke people, make them aware of their rights and duty, and we achieved it.
We have a long battle ahead, for sure. But looking back to these thirteen days, I am sure life will not be the same again for us. We lived a life which taught us to stand up for these 120 crore Indians. Fight tooth and nail with the most powerful one for the oppressed and commoner, we can’t sit back again and see things happen as it is. Come what may, we will remain standing tall, attentive against all odds. I swear by my countrymen.

Where do I stand?

This was originally a PMP session, but I happened to discover myself in some bizarre way during the session. It was all about type of Program Managers. But I went through a self discovery process. Now I don’t know how much bizarre it would sound to others, because apparently there’s no relation between the two fields I am putting under analogy machine!!

Type A Program Manager: AVERSE Program Managers, who have the knowledge of risks involved and so they’d be averse to taking any risk in the project.
Type B Program Manager: They don’t have domain knowledge and so they are averse to take risk.
Type C Program Manager: They also have good domain knowledge and guts to take risk. They are opportunity SEEKERS.
Type D Program Manager: They are ignorant about domain knowledge, still they’d take risk. They are termed as “DEATH SEEKERS” as they can lead a project to disaster.
Type E Program Manager: Don’t care Managers, they have damn good knowledge, but their attitude is sort “I don’t care. Let something happen and then I’d see.”
Type E Program Manager: They are also “don’t care” managers, they only difference being from E that they don’t have knowledge of the domain.

Now, my interpretation of this on a scale of spirituality:

Type A People: Followers of Charvaka. Even with the knowledge of Spirituality and divinity, they are atheists. They have huge knowledge base of the Vedas and after that, they start opposing the Vedas showing every shloka has some kind of issues.
Type B people: the plain and simple believers, who bows down to the so-called God (in any form) certain times a day. As they don’t have any knowledge about spirituality and the divine, they feel only praying will keep away evils and help Him to hear their woes! God, if at all there, must be smiling at their innocent gesture!
Type C People: The SEEKERS. They are the real people. They know what the divinity is and also they know that in seeking lies the real path. There’s no end to the path. The more you seek, the nearer you reach to Him.
Type D People: Lols! They are our politicians and our dhongi babas! They do all kind of wrong things in life and pray regularly! A dip in the holy Ganges clears all the sin! God must be cursing himself for creating these people.
Type E People: My dad! He doesn’t bother much about whether God exists or not. His view is like, “If at all he is there, let me meet him after I die. Then we’ll see.”
Type F People: No idea about Spirituality or God. There are so many around.

Now, if I try to map myself, I’d fall somewhere in A or C. I thought I was in C sometimes back very resolutely, may be a good ten years back. But now, I have got shifted to C domain primarily. I don’t want to stop. Because in searching, lays the beauty of divinity. But sometimes I get myself shifted to A region deliberately. That is when people come and start telling crap about certain religion or “Your and My God”. I enjoy it a lot. They are mostly from B or D domain. B people are still less harmless. D guys are real trouble. With them, you feel like bad-mouthing their God (I don’t know who their God is actually, as I don’t have any idea about how come a God can teach such hatred to people?) and crush them, along with their God under your feet.
My mom belongs to B domain and she tried a lot to bring me there since I was a kid. My dad was always, very firmly, remained in “E” zone but never tried to influence me. I somehow got stuck up in between their philosophy of life!
Good Heavens! How parents impress their kid and shape up their life, without even knowing what they are doing!
(Disclaimer: If the whole analogy has sounded crap to you, please do comment. No problem, I already know its crap! Some temporary chemical locha in my brain was the only inspiration for this piece.)

God may not be a perfect person

(It’s my first attempt at Haiku, and I know it’s pathetic. But let me do some experiments before I can at least be tolerable)

Evening 7:30; the cab has a total of four.
The music system plays some strange song.
And the driver speeds up
Oblivious of what we four are doing!

One is hooked to his own music;
The other is fast asleep;
I can’t see the third one.
And I am left out to think.

The journo has been killed somewhere;
Brutally. For expressing his view.
And the older people somewhere are ready
To lay down their lives for saving the new!

World is of course not the best place to live;
But not a bad place either.
God may not be a perfect person;
But for sure a demon neither!

Tibet’s new dawn

As the news of PAC, CWG, 2G, Adarsh, Kanimozhi and Kalmadi roar in the front page, a small piece of news was likely to be lost. Lobsang Sangay, a Harvard law fellow (who happens to be Darjeeling-born) has been elected the new Prime minister of Tibetan government-in-exile. Without going to political details, this is indeed the start of a new era for Tibetan politics for which Tibet will always be thankful to the Dalai Lama.

Dalai Lama, who gave up his political career and continued to serve as the religious leader of Tibet, did indeed marked a silent revolution by this decision. While the world is torn apart by the impact of mixing the role of church and state, he broke the age-old tradition of Tibetan political system of being completely intermingled with the religious one. It is surely not an easy task to break the religious tradition in the first place, but then nobody other than the person leading it can do that. Secondly, Dalai Lama is revered as the “incarnation of God” by the Tibetans; it’s very easy to understand what kind of power he used to hold while occupying the political throne as well. It’s not an easy task to disown the privileged power of both the state and the church for the sake of your people’s betterment. But he did it, and apart from setting an example to the world, his countrymen will always be grateful to him for that. Tibet is bound to get some real good politicians who have prepared themselves across the world (in exile) due to this decision of Dalai Lama. And more importantly, they can push Tibet’s case better in the world forums than a religious leader who will have to understand world politics and languages first to place the case to the world.

The impact, if the media is to be believed, has already started. There are reports that Beijing has already marked this young Tibetan leader who shares the Harvard department with Barak Obama and has a massive network of contacts worldwide as “terrorist”. When the oppressor shows some hastiness to go to such extent, it becomes quite evident that the oppressed is going to the right direction.

I always believed that the world is moving towards a better future. In spite of all the wars world is seeing today, there is an undercurrent of humanity flowing beneath. And this transition in Tibetan politics gave me another reason to believe that the fate of humanity is to be refined and prosperous, both materialistically and spiritually day by day.

A Personal Journey

(This is a very personal documentation of feelings. Because I am posting it in a public forum, I request everybody to read it at their own will. If somebody finds it not worth reading after going through this preface, please don’t read it. I WILL not accept any personal attack on this write-up, though a discussion is always welcome. Thanks in advance for reading and feeling oneness with my feelings.)

I was a fool till a couple of days back. I was an arrogant “thinker” who knows nothing but to bark in public forums till Anna Hazare started his crusade against corruption. Till a few days back, I used to tell myself every morning that this is my duty not to be corrupt, this is my duty to be responsible, this is my duty to make myself stronger every time the corrupted around mock at me for being a “only talkative thinker”. It takes a lot of patience to remain strong and keep yourself convinced that the real time will come when you will be proved right and those barking around will swallow their words.

I worked with colleagues, who get driving license without giving a driving test, who provide false rent and medical bills every year. It’s a bit tough to tell yourself day after day, year after year that you are not a fool by not doing all these things. It’s your duty not to do this. I lived with relatives and friends who’ll use banned plastic bags and throw garbage on roads from the car without hesitating. And I protested every time along with their mockery. I became stronger every time, telling myself that the day will come when they’ll have to understand what they are doing is wrong. I studied with friends who copied in exams and got better marks, who produced false income certificate of parents to get scholarships. And I made myself convinced every time that I am not doing anything great by not doing it. It’s my duty not to do this.

And the toughest thing was to keep myself motivated every time I see such people getting more marks, more money, and easy access to things. Every time I told myself that I am making myself prepared for the battle which will happen anytime, sooner or later, and the battle should find myself ready for it to stand in the front row. When Anna Hazare started his fast unto death against corruption, it was as if my prayer was answered; the prayer of the whole of my lifetime.

I am ready. I made myself burn in the humiliation of being a fool lifelong; I made myself sacrifice my marks, money and easy access to all kind of the facilities by keeping myself away from all kind of corruption. I am ready to stand for you, Anna. It was my greatest worry lifelong that the time will come to stand for my belief and I’ll not be ready. But I did it. I was able to keep myself pure for thirty years and now when the time has come to prove that I was right, I am ready to bet my life for it.

Thank you Anna Hazare to bring that time in my lifetime.
Thank you that I didn’t have to wait for another life to prove myself right.

A Story

(This is neither a story, nor a real life one. But it can easily be a story and also a real one of any sensitive person who is tranquilized by society, be it the family, profession or the situation.)

Rita is married to Sameer for six months now. Theirs was an arranged marriage so they didn’t get much time to know each other before marriage. So, once they were married, there were ample things to discover in each other. Rita discovered Sameer is an average middle-class Indian, who prefers remaining away from all kind of problems. And Sameer discovered Rita is a person who can’t tolerate any kind of wrongs happening around; be it with her or anybody else.

They lived in a chawl. One evening, Sameer came back from office to find out Rita had quite a big quarrel with one of his neighbors, who had a step-daughter ill-treated by her. He tried to reason with her “That’s their problem, leave it.” Rita had a prompt answer “I can’t see all these happening in front of my eyes.”
Very soon, the queue at the water pump started becoming much disciplined, thanks to Rita. But then, everything has positive and negative sides. People started calling her “Jhansi ki Rani”. Even Sameer overheard this so many times. He didn’t like all these. He was a simple guy who knew he had to go to work, come back home, eat and sleep. He feels uncomfortable if people talks about him or his family; be it for good or bad reasons.

As she continued with her routine job of protesting each and every wrong things happening around, Sameer became more and more afraid. He would sometimes think this to be sort of mental problem. How come somebody can go and protest on other’s issues! Why on earth his wife can’t become like others? Eat, sleep and enjoy. After all, that is what life is for. He had a friend who was a doctor. Sometimes, he thought of telling him about this problem. Then, if friends start discussing that his wife is mad? No, no, let it go….

Then one day it crossed all limits…

It was late at night. They were coming back home after a night show movie. The lane, small and zigzag was having only one street light. So, one couldn’t see what’s happening in the corner. But they could see some people standing there. And they didn’t seem to be nice people. Sameer stopped Rita. “Wait. Let’s go from the other side.” “Why? We didn’t do anything wrong? Why should we be afraid?” Oh God! Now you have to put him in trouble in front of Rita only? Alone he can manage but…

But before he could think any more, Rita went ahead. And saw the guys with dagger, chains and god knows what. There was, apparently, a man who has been caught by this opponent gang. Rita shouted at the top of her voice “Hey, what’s happening? Who’s there?” and started running towards them. Sameer closed his eyes. He knew what would happen next.

But to his surprise, they flew away leaving that single victim. He was amazed at, he never expected this. He looked bewildered and then ran as fast as he could. And Rita was quite normal. “What’s happening to this place? We’ll have to search for a new place.” “How dare you, Rita? They could have killed you!” “So? I would see somebody being killed in front of me?” She replied while opening the lock.

Now that was the limit. Sameer, the very next day, went and told his doctor friend about it. He; being a doctor; could easily diagnose her to be hyper-sensitive. He asked Sameer to bring his wife along one day. And he prescribed some medicines. Some tranquilizers.

Now Rita doesn’t shout at every problem around. She even stopped telling other ladies to make a queue while collecting water. She just sleeps…she sleeps whole day.

Women’s Day!!!!!

Women’s Day morning in India dawned with two great news as part of a global survey “Indian men stand first in sexual violence and last in gender equality”.

My office celebrated Women’s Day with hair braiding, nail paint and salad dressing competition!!!

We have two completely alienated India which very rarely get the chance to see each other. One is the educated India, where women get the chance to choose the career option given by the family and permission to work. They are the better lot, who earns money and have permission to do certain things according to their will. Though, as part of the “great cultural heritage” of our country, they are also taught from childhood that household chores are her duty, keeping mom-in-law happy is her duty, and giving her hard-earned money unconditionally to the family is also her duty. So, she doesn’t question. She works and works, in home, in office, in kitchen. She gets a twofold food, better dresses to wear and a safe and hygienic place to deliver babies. Enough, would be told by our “most violent and least gender-equal” patriarchal society.

The other part consists of the larger India. Unorganized workers, ragpickers, house-maids or plain and simple housewives from lower-middle class India. There we have the highest maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the world, 230 per 1,00,000. Forget social or financial security, they don’t even get any medical care while delivering babies. Survey says 37% of Indian mothers-to-be still don’t have access to any medical aid, only 12% of the menstruating Indian ladies have access to sanitary napkins. And a large chunk of them, almost 1,34,00 are detected with cervical cancer every year, out of which around 73,000 die. It is the most frequented cancer among Indians. Forget about male-female ratio imbalance, school-drop-outs or underage marriage!

I wonder when the corporate India celebrates Women’s Day with pink balloons, chocolates and fancy competitions, does nobody, literally nobody from that so-called educated Indian women think of these underprivileged Indian counterparts of theirs? The answer is a big “NO”. The educated India is least bothered about the human development Index where India stands 119th, highly unacceptable for a country which stands among top 10 in GDP growth rate! Are we really turning so self-centered that we can’t look beyond our own surroundings! The answer is a painful “Yes”. I remember in my childhood days, on any good occasion, my dadi would tell to gift something to the maid. She was not aware of donation to Prime minister’s fund or to Aanganwari projects. But the idea was to make little effort to bring smile on the face of the most underprivileged person we come across daily. The educated Indian women have forgotten that gesture, too.

So while we celebrate Women’s Day with much fanfare and those pink balloons and hair braiding competition, the larger Indian women die out of hunger, pain and ailments! Hail Women’s Day! Hail Indian corporate mindset! Hail patriarchal society…

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