Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Seeking Kindness - On a Diwali Morning!

A Diwali morning...

As soon as I woke up I was busy doing things that I do every Diwali, decorating the house, putting things nicely. After a couple of hours of doing all this when I was about to take a shower, my brother woke up. In few minutes he & I realized that something went wrong whiles I was filling our water tank in the morning and that we don't have enough water to use during the day.

Since it was the first thing he had to face in the morning he got a little irritated and said as to why was I not being careful as we have had similar instances in the past. Suddenly, the peace & harmony within me was disturbed :( A moment or two of extreme anxiety & worry rushed in...but amid this a voice within me said - Lets try!

So I picked up the phone and dialed the number of our building security. I was extremely positive & hopeful and a part of me was seeking kindness, it wanted the voice on the other side to say 'that's not a problem, we will get the building water tank tap open for you right away' but instead...our old watchman uncle said ' There is no water. From where will I give you water' . To avoid further conversation, he passed on the number of Society's new Secretary. As he is a recently elected secretary, I had never interacted with him before!

So I here I was, dialing a number of a complete stranger, on the morning of Diwali, with a hope for a small miracle!

What followed next was this beautiful, most genuine conversation where I felt warm sharing my worry and anxiety with a complete stranger! I felt I was being listened to...that my concern mattered to him. He was honest enough in saying that if there is water in the building tank, I will get it for you AND he did :) :)

And the very next moment the peace & harmony within me was restored, this time with a broad smile on my face for receiving such a beautiful Diwali gift - for receiving Kindness :) :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mysterious day and a magical evening!!!

It’s been a day of emotions. Few pleasant and comforting emotions and many discomforting, disturbing emotions. Throughout the day, I felt dead, unable to feel my heart beats; unable to feel myself…was just feeling very disconnected and lost!

And then…suddenly I looked outside the window…I saw beautiful, big milky clouds…some part of clear blue sky and golden leaves and it brought a big smile on my face. Suddenly I could feel my heart, I knew what was making me happy…I could feel the blood running through my veins…I felt ALIVE :-)

I just had the most magical evening :-) through out the evening; I sat by my window and saw the live show of the light and shadow as the clouds and the Sun dance their way through the evening. It was mesmerizing to see the clouds changing its colors from white to yellow to pink to purple to orange!! Since I could not see the Sun or its rays, it was all the more mysterious for me. It felt as if with the blink of my eye, the clouds were changing the colors.

Alas, the Sun set and it became dark!

I did not want this evening to end…I did not want the magic show to end…I felt like dancing, singing in a joy, in a celebration of Life. Feeling immense gratitude for all the beautiful souls around me for making my life so colorful, for making it a celebration every day J

This Moment

Who am I?

Why am I here?

Feeling light as a feather

I don’t know where I am headed

The language the wind speaks is unfamiliar

But yet the places it takes me are familiar

I am either too far or too near…

I am either here or there…out somewhere

There is a fear of losing myself…or of being carried away

Or of unexpected arrival of meeting self!

Am I listening? Am I seeing? Am I feeling?

It’s either too blank or too clouded

Hope comes every now and then…

Telling me that the fear can go…if only I let go!!

Meeting compassion has made me stranger to an ambition

The comfort is making me restless

There is neither the worry of the past nor the fear of the future

I hold this moment closer than ever!

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I don’t quite remember when was the first time I was told about why we celebrate independence day, but it looks like I always knew why we celebrate it until…

On India’s 66th Independence Day I visited a small cluster called ‘ Thakarwadi’. Thakarwadi is one of the four clusters in a village called Kunegaon. The best way to introduce Kunegaon would be to say that it’s next to India’s largest adventure club which is at Lonavla. I have never been to a more personified example of inequality. Within 100 meters from the place where there is no safe, clean drinking water, where no one has ever studied beyond 7th std, where there are electricity polls but no light, where the sunshine never reaches the house as there are no windows, where the state transport refuses to provide services since there is only one village on the hill, where children on an average walk 5-7kms a day, is this big adventure park where what people spend on a weekend is more than the annual income of some of the thakars!!

Our agenda for the visit was to attend a gram sabha meeting happening of a gram panchayat. Post the meeting we came back to the cluster to speak to the villagers and that’s when we met a group of 20-25 children who were playing, chasing a butterfly, making Ganesh Idols from the clay. After playing few games with them we gave them sheets of paper and colors to draw and paint. Suddenly during the painting session the number of kids increased.  As always, I saw how children enjoyed creating their own colorful world. Although it was an Independence Day, I was a little surprised to see how no one painted a National Flag. (As oppose to this, during one of the painting session at a Govt run children’s home in Mumbai last week, I saw quite a few kids drawing a National Flag).

We were sitting in a classroom of the primary school which is smaller than a 3BHK Flat. It has two classrooms, one of which was closed as it’s turned into a mini storage room. So, all the children from 1st to 4th sit in one classroom.

As the children were busy drawing, I looked at the National Flag hoisted outside the School. When I asked the children why we celebrate Independence Day, no one could answer. Their faces went blank. The average age of children there must have been 12yrs and most of them were going to school. For a minute or so I was totally blank. I was hoping that at least one of them would say something related to our Independence Day, but everyone was looking at me with a puzzled look.

I couldn’t believe I was experiencing it. I knew that this probably happens in many villages but experiencing it was a different feeling!!

I somehow managed to explain them why we celebrate our Independence Day but it left me with so many unanswered questions…
  • What is Independence?
  •  Is it different for me, you, those children, those people coming to spend their weekend at the Adventure Park?
  •  Is the inequality the effect of Independence or an inherited element?
  •  Is Independence something that one can teach another? Through textbooks or a video?
  •  Do I feel Independent because I am educated? Because I earn decent amount of Money? Because I can talk a language which most part of the developed world speaks? OR because I understand the responsibility that it brings along with it?
  • Have we lost the essence of being Independent in the race of becoming someone else, something else?            
  • Are we too ahead of time to think of Alternative Education when there are millions of children who do not even get basic Education?

Visiting one cluster of around 50 houses with not more than 150 children led to so many questions. Questions which have no ONE or RIGHT answer. But all these questions lead me to two things – Inequality and Development!! Rather than having an inverse relation, these two seems to be going hand in hand.

  • How do we break this cycle of Inequality and yet fulfill the desire of development?
  • How do we shift the paradigm of development from raising inequality to increase in access to equal opportunity?


Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Inequality – that’s on my mind since last few days. Every time I remember the villages that I recently visited where there is no electricity and then walk on the streets of Nariman Point with big neon lights, I am reminded of this inequality!!

Every time I open the tap to use the water or pay money & buy water, I am reminded of how people in the villages have to walk to fetch water!

Everytime I take a rickshaw or a taxi to cover a distance of couple of kms, I am reminded of children who have to walk this much to go to school. Every time I order food at a restaurant or buy vegetables from the market, I am reminded of farmer’s everyday struggle & how some of them succumb to it my committing suicides.

YES!! The inequality personifies and hits really hard on my face and goes deep within through my veins!!

And it makes me question, WHEN WILL WE WAKE UP??

Will we talk/act when we will have electricity less than 4 hours a day with mostly no electricity in the night?

Will we talk/act when our taps will no longer give water?

Will we talk when the shopping malls will have no vegetables to sell to us?

Will we talk when our kids will have no school to go to inspite of us having all the money in the world to pay for it?

OR We are waiting for something really bad to happen, to all of us, to humanity, which will make us realize the value of fellow human beings, make us look at them beyond status, appearance, caste, gender, creed, to make us realize that it doesn’t require lot of money to be compassionate & empathetic, to take out some time out of our race to win the battle of life for someone who has lost all the hopes before event the race has begun!!!

I think we as a society has gone passed the stage where a revolution can save us. For in a revolution, there is a leader, who leads a social change & there are followers who execute it!!

What we need is an individual rebellion, a rebellion which leads to inner transformation, awakening of conscious, awakening that human inside a business man, a doctor, an engineer, a student to an awareness which raises questions…


Sunday, July 22, 2012


When I was a kid, it was so easy to cry…the tears would just roll down without any inhibitions

Then came a point when they became my only support, my true resort to relieve myself from pain, but they would only come when I was alone, they refuse to come when I was in crowd, but I loved them and I never stopped them.

As I grew up, I started distancing myself from them, thinking they are the sign of weakness, they are the sign of resignation…I wanted to be strong, so instead of crying I started telling myself – Its okay!!

But  I miss my tears now, miss the freedom that I experienced with every tear drop releasing from my eyes and I can see how they missed me too!!

And I am happy that they are back, slowly regaining the ease and the comfort they enjoyed as they rolled down from my cheeks…cleansing my vision and helping me smile again!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Random Act of Kindness: Smile :-)

Couple of days ago, I was walking my way back after my usual fruits and vegetable shopping. While walking, I thought of taking rickshaw but then said to myself that it’s such a short distance and I should walk it. As I was walking I saw an elderly lady walking ahead of me. She must be in her fifties. From the way she was walking, I could make out that the bags she was carrying were quite heavy. I walked upto her and told her to let me carry her bag. At first she was shocked and asked WHY? I smiled and said because I can see that’s its heavy. I asked and she refused again said, this time a little surprise then shocked. I smiled a little more and said don’t worry, I won’t run away with your bag, let me carry it till the time we walk the same path. She smiled and gave me one of her bag.

We walked till the entrance of her complex and as we walked she continued smiling, more and more J

After I dropped her, I realized how she helped me walk through the road which I thought I did not wanted to take and almost made me forget the weight that I was carrying.

It’s bliss to have such an experience!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Paliya – What I saw and what I felt …Beliefs reinforced and shaken

On the evening of the inauguration ceremony of Gramya Manthan, while on our way to the campus we were told about the cause and the village on which we will be working on for the next few days and perhaps years. I was being allotted the Village Paliya and a cause of agriculture. Both at that time fairly unknown to me and hence I was doubly excited about it!
Paliya  - Bilhaur, Uttar Pradesh
Next day morning was to be a big one; as it was the first time we were to visit the villages. Initial motivational talks by Elango Sir and Sanjiv Bhaiya followed by brief pep talks in the teams and we finally entered the village! We entered the Choti Paliya, started a conversation with a Potter and few kids around him. We also visited few other houses in Choti Paliya. But 
I think it wasn’t till I entered the Badi Paliya that I was truly experiencing the moment. I think my mind was too clouded on how to talk, what to ask, what not to while I was in Choti Paliya but that small road leading to Badi Paliya cleared all these inhibitions!

The first person I saw when I entered Badi Paliya was a young girl, about 8-9yrs old. A girl with round face and big eyes and a smile to die for - Anshu!! She became my first friend in the village. And from that moment, everything became very natural. My interactions, my emotions, my smiles and even my concerns.

There is something about that girl. In here I saw hope and faith. For next 3 days, she followed me almost like a shadow, everywhere I would go. From the following day, even other children from the village joined her and me. You know it may sound and seem that walking in the village along with children is for fun or to spend time with them but to me it was much more than that!! With every step we took together, my belief in them, in me and in goodness was getting reinforced.

The first day of our visit was very general and we interacted with many families to gauge the situation. The second day was when we had to spend a day with a family and I spent the day with Harishchandra Bhaiya’s family. If there is one thing I did the most that day, it was to laugh!! The family had three girls and I was amazed at how they managed to laugh at everything…they even laughed out the electricity problem the village is facing.

Well, although I appreciated their spirit because only with that spirit can you walk upto the hand pump 300mts away from your house 30-40 times a day to fetch water but somewhere I could see there was so much potential that was getting wasted. It was the story of so many young girls in the village, all educated but lack of proper guidance and opportunities makes them spend every afternoon in sleeping or in spending time gossiping.

I must say while in the city, I did not expect the education level of girls to be so high in the village. In this case I was really happy that my belief was shaken and reformed J

I was also not happy seeing how the Bhabhi (Harishchandraji’s wife) was treated. There was absolutely no time when she left her kitchen and a small room. Yet, the smile on her face was so warm J And she cooked the best food, specially the mango daal :-)

After spending 3.5-4 days in the village

-  - I saw how the cycle of oppression and exploitation percolates. The Land owners get exploited by the middlemen and landless gets exploited by the landowners.

I also realized that the subjectivity of the problem changes as you see it from different stakeholder’s perspective. For E.g – Every person we spoke to in the village said water is a big problem. When I stayed at Harishchandraji’s house, I saw how due to the fact that they had the hand pump in their front yard they were using water so liberally that I was surprised. But against that, for a population of almost 500 people on the harijan’s side, there are only two hand pumps!

The cycle of lack of equal opportunities also continues!

More and more of rural India which is created due to inequality, is breeding inequality within itself!

- - I did not see any visible poverty in the village. You don’t really see children dying out of hunger but you do see children walking, running bare feet under the scorching sun….walking more than 2kms in between fields to reach the school, the building which only has bricks which are not even cemented and a school which is run by only one Master. Forget about the library, the extracurricular activities, and the sports! I think that was one of the reason why when I opened the story books and coloring books, all of them were engrossed in the world of colors and fantasies and when we used to play games in the evening, the entire village celebrated with the children.

-  - The men really work hard on the fields but I could see how they were trapped in the cycle of ignorance and exploitation. In spite of Agriculture being the primary livelihood, I realized how there is so little of creativity or innovation left in it. After speaking to few of the farmers, I saw how they see Agriculture, for them it’s a struggle, an everyday battle. Something that they are doing due to lack of choice. I spoke to an old man who has lived all his life in that village; he must be in his late 60s. He said he is seeing the plight of farmers and agriculture worsening, year after year! I did not meet even a single farmer who was happy doing what he is doing! I fear if it continues like this, we will soon be an agrarian economy with no farmers!

-  - Although the men work really hard on fields, there is still a huge potential to work on them to make their minds open, to new things, to change. Currently I see resignation and acceptance in their attitude.

- -I realized that we cannot really work on Agriculture, leaving aside Energy or water or Education. They are so deeply connected. I also realized importance of breaking down the problem to understand the root of the problem which needs to be addressed.

-  - Also, bringing in the change in the attitude, mindset will take time but it’s what is sustainable and hence just getting technology will not answer the problem.

-  - We need to be patient and humble. It is going to take time and we need to be okay with it. Our ambition of creating change should not overpower our sensitivity.

-  - I see the community unity as both the potential as well as a challenge.

-  - Children and youth can really lead the change wagon. There is hope and potential.

In all this, I see the biggest challenge lies within me. Over next few years as I commit myself for the development of the village, I tread a path of inner transformation. At every moment I get an opportunity to be more alert and aware of my biases, my beliefs, by values as they define my actions…actions that will have direct implication on people there. There is a fear of getting carried away, fear of forming notions, assumptions.

But with all this, I do see myself ready for this journey!

“The seeker embarks on a journey to find what he wants and discovers, along the way, what he needs.”   Wally Lamb, The Hour I First Believed

Saturday, June 30, 2012

ग्राम्य मंथन!!

10 days…40 awesomely amazingly inspiring people…one constant feeling…overwhelming!!

When I started this journey, I was like a blank slate, no emotions, not even excitement. There was a deep sense of acceptance and somewhere a sense of relief that I was finally getting down to some action.

Last year in the month of April, I visited Chitrakoot – A model village in Madhya Pradesh. It did not take me long to realize that this is what I see myself doing, this is where my passion lies…reaching out to the unreachables, giving them access to equal opportunities for development and growth. I went through a big emotional turmoil, for the expectation mismatch at the family took a toll on my patience. I did not know how to convince them that this is what I want to do. At the end I decided to stay back in Mumbai!  

From the beginning the intention of getting involved in Rural Development was with a philosophy of Prevention. Everyday I would see tens and hundreds of children working at a tender age, most of them had come from their villages in search of better future to the cities. As an outsider, looking at a situation objectively I could see how badly they were trapped in the vicious circle.

How can I change this? How can I work towards giving a childhood to every child? How did it all started? From where can I start? Many such questions only led my belief to become stronger – We need to work at the root, at the source, our villages!!

Within 4 months of starting my work in Mumbai, I was ready to go to Lucknow and start our work in some of the villages in Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh. On the night when I was to board the train from Delhi to Lucknow, I was being called back by my family because of a medical emergency which sort of rose due to my travelling to Uttar Pradesh.

Words still fail to express what I went through in those 24hrs. Tears weren’t enough to express the grief, the anger, the frustration and the helplessness. I felt as if I was being asked not to breathe or not to live!! Even after I came back to Mumbai, this became a very sensitive topic of discussion within family – Working in Uttar Pradesh!!!

 I wouldn’t say I wasn’t aware, I knew from the beginning that this is not a very easy state to work in but at the same I knew the most that the state required interventions, about time!!!

Months passed, I was finding new ways of addressing the symptoms of the problem in Mumbai. Identifying and addressing gaps in the systems, in the processes. Part of me was getting used to it and but there was still a part which would yearn for otherwise!!

And then came May 4th and a very quick glance on the facebook post of a friend and next thing I knew, I became part of Gramya Manthan!!

Event during those 10 days, it was hard for me to identify with one particular feeling that remained for long. The environment was so intense that there were tens of emotions running through my veins at the same time but deep down inside I was a lot at peace. I felt so belonged there….every moment!! Be it interacting with super energetic friends, be it sitting in silence experiencing the nature, travelling by bus everyday to the villages, walking in the fields, talking to the fellow villagers….every moment was like a meditation, I was there…in the moment totally!!

The feeling personified the last day when I was standing in front of about 100 villagers, talking to them about how we can together create a change and I could see that I really did not had to take any efforts, the conversations were just flowing. And Yes!! That day there was a feeling of satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy that my belief got reinforced – Yes I do belong here!!!

And right now, after the program I am feeling deeply committed and motivated. I know I can and I will be a part of the change that we all are working to create there!

As I close my eyes I see – Anshu (the little girl I met in Paliya), Avanish, Rangoli, Bhabhi, Aarti, Ankit, Mangoli and many such wonderful people, gathered in front of Masterji’s house, giggling and playing games. 

What brings smile on my face is to see Udit, Sudha, Praneet and my other fellow changeagents around and what makes my eyes sparkle is to see a big soulful smile on Prakhar’s face :-)!

Feel blessed and grateful to Gramya Manthan, to Prakhar, Kishan, Shubha, Neeraj, Sanjiv Bhaiya, Rajiv Bhaiya for being part of such a memorable experience, to my fellow change agents for the love that you gave and to the existence for the experiences that I experienced!!

There is no looking back now…the dawn is finally here!!! 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Miracle, Wonder, Mystery!!

In last two days what I experienced in nothing short of a miracle. Couple of days ago, while in Kanpur I was feeling a bit depressed & uneasy. I wasn’t really sure why I was feeling that but I really wanted to return home at the earliest. I had no confirmed ticket to come back and hence on the morning of 27th, I was mentally prepared that I will travel unreserved as it’s just the matter of 24 hrs. So many conversations back & forth, within and also with people around! How will I go, Its Uttar Pradesh! Should I take a flight? Should I wait one more day? Should I go to Delhi and try train ticket from there? But the inner voice was constant – I will board the train from Kanpur in the afternoon and will reach somehow! I did not panic and neither was I worried (here goes the first miracle:-p)

So we reached the station ~11.45 a.m and realized our train was about an hour late. My friend had to change the boarding so we started to visit different offices to check as to how we can do that. As always we were made to go from one person to another with no proper direction. After resting for a while, I told my friend to wait and I decided to go alone to figure out something. While walking on the platform, I took a deep breath and started thinking positive. Suddenly I saw I was in front of the ‘Head TT’ office. I went inside & explained him both of ours problem and he readily agreed to help both of us. He called an office in Jhansi and spoke to him about the change in the boarding and when my train came, he allotted me a confirm 

Words failed to express how amazingly awesome I felt!! He truly was an angle sent by the Universe!
Aren’t the ways of universe so mysterious to make you realize how beautiful life is!! Just two days ago I was feeling sad and was thinking how fate never favors me & then this happens! Again reminding me of how nothing in this life is permanent and how one will receive generosity in the most unexpected ways and at the most unexpected timesJ And in such times, being grateful for the experiences makes life blissful & blessed!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Receiving Kindness and Love

This has been my new pursuit!

It came as a very welcoming insight during a lovely conversation I had with a friend. When he asked me how comfortable I am with receiving love – I hesitated a bit but eventually accepted that yeah I am not that great at it. As I reflect, I realized that I am more of a giving person and have always believed that in giving I shall receive.

But it has been an interesting series of incidences that I experienced in last week where I watched myself closely every time someone tried to be kind to me or extended his/her love to me and initially I felt the same uneasiness I have been feeling but overcoming that and accepting love and kindness from those lovely people made me feel very beautiful :-)

Kindness when comes totally unexpected makes you feel grateful to life and existence eternally.

While on our way back from watching a movie, I suddenly realized that I forgot to buy the chaipatti for home. Sharing it with a friend in rickshaw, I was expressing how I will have to get up and get the chaipatti first thing in the morning else my brother would get really mad. After having a brief conversation about this, we got on talking about the movie and life at large. By the time we stopped the auto near her building, I had totally forgotten about the chaipatti and was saying her goodbye. Suddenly, the auto driver said – ‘Yaha se kharid lo chaipatti’  :-) I was speechless for a minute while my friend acted quickly and got me a small pack. When he started the auto, I thanked him, again and again. He shared how he would have felt if he was to get the chaipatti the first thing in the morning. He said he would get very angry on himself for forgetting it and said I would have felt the same way. 

I had no words to express how beautiful and grateful I was feeling. We had never met before and we may never meet again, but what he did was so thoughtful and considerate that I felt blessed to have received such kindness :-)

After having such blissful evening, yesterday I met one of my dearest friends from old days. We met after four years and had a lot of catching up to do. After sometime of our meeting, she opened this big bag and started giving me all the gifts that she had collected for me since couple of years. I was feeling very overwhelming and a bit uneasy. I did not get her anything because it was too late by the time I reached her home and my visit was planned at a very short notice. This made me feel a little bad and to add to it I was not comfortable receiving so many gifts. She saw the concern on my face and said to me – My biggest gift is your presence. In a minute or so, with a smile on my face I accepted all her gifts with open heart and saw how happy it made her.

I love this feeling, because it’s a new feeling for me. To let someone care for me, to receive love without being worried or burden about having to give it back and to receive it with smile and gratitude :-)

In giving you shall receive and in receiving you shall give :-)!!

Friday, May 11, 2012


‘You are cruel’, said Papa Georges to Hugo.

Last night I saw one of the most beautiful films I have seen till date – Hugo.

Out of so many dialogues, I am still stuck to this one. What must have that old man felt, how intense is his hurt that he is complied to say this to a child of a tender age.

To me it also reflected how the character of Papa Georges was deeply attached to his dreams and how sad he became at a sight of seeing them all coming out flying from a box in which he thought he had suppressed them.

Dreams! One of my most favorite mysteries! And perhaps that’s why I loved this particular film so much.

There is a particular feeling to the film, the feeling which makes you look at every experience in your life with so much positivity and possibilities.

Papa Georges’s character successfully makes us hate him during the times when he hated Hugo…hated him for bringing the possibilities of all his dreams back in his life. I loved one of the line he says to a young boy ‘If you've ever wondered where your dreams come from, you look around... this is where they're made’ And by ‘here’ he meant on the sets of his films. He is shown to be someone who realized that films have the power to dream, to imagine and to make its audience believe in the power of dreams.

To me the film took an interestingly happy turn in the second half, when Hugo decides to fix Papa Georges after fixing an automaton. Another simple yet brilliant dialogue – ‘I’d imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn't be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.’ Says Hugo to Isabelle when the two of them were talking about their purpose of being in the world. Totally loved the machine analogy!

Never before have I written about any film and how it impacted me, but what attracted me to this film is its simplicity, its closeness to the life, Hugo can be any child we see on the streets, Papa Georges can very well be someone who we interact with everyday.

The film successfully depicts how dreams affect positively as well as negatively. Its power is superlative when they come true, they make our life more beautiful and exciting. But when they are shattered or when no one believes in them, we are sad, depressed and the first thing we do is we suppress our dreams and we dream no more!

 But how important it is that we love our dreams…not because they will come true one day, not because others believe in them, but because what I dream is what only I can dream, so my dreams become my purest form of creativity, the one which comes from heart and soul.

Dreams aren't relative, dreams are absolute :-)

Go dream with Hugo :-)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The price of a tear!

Since a week I have been staying at Vasai and hence travelling by the most famous and crowded Virar locals! Every morning, when I stand in the crowded ladies compartment of a train, with almost 50-60 other ladies; at least 20 around me…real close:-p, getting pushed & pulled from all the directions and to all the directions, feeling people’s touch almost everywhere…AND one thought recurring every few minutes – our morning is worse than that of the cattle’s!!

In India, one among a few countries with a most promising present and future...people travelling by local trains are deprived of something as basic as fresh air or a space to stand on both the feet.

Yesterday having experienced the same turmoil in the morning, I was prepared to face the evening music. But what happened left me speechless and disturbed!

The train was decently crowded at Jogeshwari when I got in but with every station the crowd was increasing. At Borivali, when there was literally no space left for anyone to get in, couple of girls attempted to get in. One of those girls got so angry on the other girl that she tried to push her out of the running train and it went to an extend where that girls clothes got torn in the entire havoc.

At Bhayander when I came out, I saw a girl standing on the door, crying! There were at least 10 other women who could see her tears but none spoke or reacted! I had this sudden urge to give her a hug and tell her that it’s all right, but I couldn’t reach her. She and I both got down at Vasai and I approached her asking whether she is ok and she broke into tears. When I gave her a hug, she was shivering. I walked with her few steps telling her it’s ok, forget what happened. Near a foot over bridge where we were to part ways she said, ’my baby is very small, he waits for me be home soon and hence I take such a risk to get into a crowded train’

As we parted our ways I had tears in my eyes. I was sad, angry, disturbed, and scared all at once. It made me think, how have we reached here? A place where we fail to see other person’s grief, a place where we are so self-obsessed and self-center that we fail to recognize others as our fellow mates on this planet earth? What is this development that we are heading towards? Where human beings are treated worse than animals, where life makes it so difficult for them to be there for others? Technology is bringing the world closer but then why is the distant between hearts widening with every step we take towards pseudo success?

Where are we going to go from here?

What is it that it will take for me to realize that a tear dropped from your eye is as precious as a tear dropped from my eye?

That it is neither money nor wealth nor do material possessions will ever be sufficient to pay a price for a tear, as it’s the love and compassion that we really need for LiFe!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Can my non-violence lead to your violence?

This and many such questions came to my mind after I saw a Marathi play ‘Mi Nathuram 
Godse boltoy’ (मी नथुराम गोडसे बोलतोय). It’s about Nathuram Godse, the person who killed Mahatma Gandhi.

It made me think what is the first thing that comes to my mind when I say or hear Gandhi, the answer is – Non Violence – अहिंसा and may be the next to follow would be    सत्याग्रह.

Since the beginning I have been skeptical about Gandhi’s idea of non-violence - कोई एक गाल पे थप्पड़ मरे तोह दूसरा गाल आगे करो.

To me non-violence means seeing that no act of mine should lead to any violence (be it physical, emotional, psychological) to others and to self as well. And thus an act of walking fast is to me a form of violence to self, to one’s own body, mind and heart.

In the play, the character Nathuram Godse explains why he disagrees to Gandhi’s value of non-violence and the fact that any action taken to protect self is not violence but one’s कर्तव्य to oneself.

This got me thinking – Did Gandhi’s value of non-violence led to violence on/for others?

Well I don’t really have an answer to this question but I want to illustrate couple of incidences which if thought deeply may give us some insight.

# Just before Independence when there were discussions about who will be our first Prime Minister, Gen. Jinnah expressed his wish to be India’s Prime Minister and threatened that if not fulfilled it will lead to communal riots. Gandhi to avoid violence decided to go partition. Partition – A thought and act which was born out of value of non-violence led to killing of so many innocents, led to violence for so many people!

# Post Independence, when Gandhi wanted to support Pakistan by providing financial aid, India’s entire cabinet was initially against it…so Gandhi went on a hunger strike. It created a pressure on the cabinet who ultimately decided to support Pakistan with an aid of 55cr. If we look at this incidence closely, there is so much of violence that was born out of the hunger strike.

Firstly, post this decision, Nathuram Godse decided that before it’s too late he needs to bring an end to this and thus killed Gandhi. Gandhi’s act of non-violence brought to an end by Nathuram’s act of violence!

Secondly, Gandhi’s hunger strike created lot of pressure on the Ministry who had to take a decision in favor of Gandhi. This is the case of emotional violence and also an emotional blackmail. Gandhi was well aware of how much he was loved by everyone and hence knew that seeing him in danger would led to melting of hearts.

Thirdly when Gandhi sat on a fast he deprived his body of some of the basic things that it needs to function. Thereby being violent to one’s own body. This although being a very subtle form is also a form of violence which is not very easily accepted by people. We sometimes forget that we owe a lot to our own body and an act of fasting although being purely non-violent is actually a form of violence!

While each one of us as individuals hold certain values, ethics for us to live a better, more harmonious, responsible life; we sometimes forget that these very values can lead to an exact opposite impact on someone else’s life. Do values also have paradox, are they also relative and not absolute in its purest form. I am not saying that every act of non-violence by Gandhi was with an intention of creating violence, but history shows that some did…

BTW…I still don’t have an answer to my question but I think it’s one of those question which if unanswered helps you more than if it is answered!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The city of JOY – Kolkata!!!

When I got to know that I will be visiting Kolkata, I was super duper excited!! The first thing that came to mind was – Yellow Taxis and of course Sourav Ganguly J

As I was sharing it with my friends how excited I was, they joined in the excitement and a day before I was to leave for Kolkata, I had a long list of – things I must do, must see, must eat and shopJ

The moment I stepped out of the airport, felt the air and looked around…I felt beautiful not because I saw a great view but because of the way the city felt.  The last I had felt the same was when I was in Hyderabad…it’s not possible to express in words but in the middle of the chaos and traffic at North 24 Parganas, I was seeing the life lived by people on the street and felt calm and peaceful.

We were put up at Gariahat Road, which is one of the happening areas of Kolkata with shopping malls, university, Ram Krishna Mission and lots of good places around it. The evening when I went for a walk, one of the things that struck me was – NO ONE WAS RUNNING…THERE WAS NO RUSH!! People were taking their time to walk, talk, share a laugh…the city gives a space just to ‘BE’ and unlike Mumbai, people were not very keen on ‘BECOMING’!!

One of the most amazing things was on the National Bandh Day, in the night at 8-8.30 the roads were empty with very few vehicles, but the cars stopped at the red light, in spite of no traffic from the other side! For that one minute when the signal was red, I felt so awesome…vow!!!

So the first day, I found myself under a lot of pressure of seeing those ‘must see’ places, eating ‘must eat’ food and shopping but when I went for a walk alone in the evening, I let go of all that and decided to go with the flow and what followed was some beautiful conversations with strangers, sharing a laugh with kids, randomly smiling at people on the street…and seeing confused reactions and sometimes beautiful smiles JJ
If you don't play with me, I won't talk to you!!

Next day onwards, I spent the evenings on the street, talking to street side vendors, listening to their stories, helping the rag-picker carry the rags, playing carom and marbles with kids on the street, watching people play chess with so much intensity and concentration in the middle of the street and smiling and talking to anyone I felt like!!

It’s so beautiful…Life is!! Isn’t itJ
Somitro, Shibu and Me :-)!!

One of the co-participants at the workshop, Sr. Clara jokingly asked me, where you are going to keep all these beautiful memories that you are collecting and I happen to answer – In my heart! We have a big big heart, which can be filled with so much love and compassion, but it’s interesting to see how lot of time we use the heart space to store feelings like insecurity, ego, ambitions, arrogance, worry and thus are left with very little space for love and compassionJ As I was talking to those people, playing with kids, hugging them, it was beautiful to feel that I wasn’t thinking of when will I get to meet them again, the desire to spend more time with both me and that man/ woman/ kid were spending those moments by completely being in ‘NOW’ and the relationship we shared for those moments was so pure and wasn’t clouded with attachments, expectations…I felt beautiful to be able to live life like that…in that moment with my heart and soul!!
Komal with her Granny. The entire family migrated from a village near Jaipur to Kolkata  in search of livelihood

We all our treading a different path…some with the same destination or goal or a purpose. I don’t see myself giving more importance to the destination as it’s the journey which makes it worthwhile!! And on this journey, when I meet different people whose paths are crossing mine, it’s not important for me how much of their struggle I will be able to be part of, what is important is how I can give my heart and soul and love and compassion to everyone I meet…for everyone of us is the most beautiful person!! J
So after spending 4 days in Kolkata, I did not see any of the ‘must see’ places or ate any ‘must eat’ food (did shop a lot though!), but I met some most amazingly awesomely beautiful people and smiled and laughed a lotJ!!!

This feeling of being able to love and be loved is joyful!!

Thanks Kolkata for bringing me closer to LifeJ!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Every child is special!

I read this on a T-shirt worn by a boy in Government Children’s Home. Below this was written ‘Department of Woman & Child Development’.

But is every child really special? Over last one and half week, I was part of and came across incidences which tells me that practically it’s an over ambitious statement not only for the Government but also for the development sector and society at large!

Beginning of last week, we found a 7-8yr old girl who could not speak and was mentally challenged. We contacted around 4-5 institutions to check with them whether they can admit her in their home. Some said NO because of lack of capacity, some because of the provisions mentioned in the acts governing such homes.

She was finally taken to a Government Home, a place where children with special needs are put together with other children in need of care and protection. Although our intention was good, we could not take her to the place where she would have given extra care and attention.

During one of my weekly visits to Government home, I saw a 14-15yr old boy who could not speak and was handicapped from his legs below knees. I have seen him even once before. Both the times when he was to be presented to the child welfare committee, the only caretaker who accompanied him was a 12yr old boy! There was no one else to help him walk, no one to pick him up as he could not climb up the stairs!!

Just before the weekend there was a girl found on one of the railway stations, she looked ill and sick. When taken to the doctor, the doctor said she is at the last stage of the TB and there are no chances of her to be saved. She doesn’t have a father and her mother seemed mentally unstable. The little girl passed away on Saturday :(

Yet, Every Child is Special!

The spiritual and philosophical side of me tells me that this was meant to happen! You play a role which you are supposed to. Well, agreed to a certain extent, but I strongly believe that we shape our own destiny and make our own life with the choices we make.

The practical side of me is now trying to find out ways in which some of these issues can be addressed. Questioning the way it is done till now…questioning the approach and the attitude…hoping I will reach a place beyond the battle of my rights v/s your responsibilities….a place where ‘Every child is special’ is more close to reality.

But I must admit here…that I am scared! Firstly of being getting used to all this, getting into the trap of right doing and wrong undoing and losing my emotions and I am pessimistic thinking we as a community have reached a stage from where it might become impossible for us to return…and the situation is slowly yet steadily going out of our hands, waiting to explode someday…SOON!!
(The views and opinions mentioned are strictly individual and not part of being any organization)