An Open letter to those who won’t stop honking

Dear All-those-who-won’t-stop-honking-on-the-roads,8492661-illustration-of-an-angry-driver-shouting-while-blowing-his-car-s-horn

Sometimes I feel it’s the Newton’s law of inertia that is compelling you to do so. As Mr Newton said “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an external force.” This behavior can be described by saying that your hands “keep on doing what they are doing” unless a fellow commuter shows you a middle finger (or may-be-not).

Your unstoppable honking on the road is a parallel to a loud ‘excuse me’ with an overtone of indifference, which just makes you looks like a wreck of mental illness. Nobody is paying attention to it. The only response you are getting is from a few rightful ones who are abusing you silently, hoping you’d gather some sanity. But failed are the ones who thought the human species is much more evolved. You just don’t seem to understand that honking is not essential or mandated by the transport department. It’s also possible to drive and not honk, you see. It’s THAT simple.

Here are my suggestions to deal with your type of hooligans (in no order of priority):

1. Children should be deployed as volunteers on the sides of the roads to throw water balloons at you as soon as you honk more than thrice.

2. The horns should be equipped with an tiny leash that starts whipping you if you ‘blow’ more than 3 seconds (ignore the pun).

3. The driver seats can be replaced with a steel plate with a flamethrower under it, programmed to start after 3 secs of honking.

4. Your seats can be designed to start kicking your ass and topple you off the car onto the road if you still continue pressing your horn.

5. This one is for our government. Instead of banning beef, BAN HONKING.

Plus, you see, as someone driving in front of your vehicle, if there is some space, I WILL MOVE. I am not there just chilling on the road. STOP honking at me.

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1 down; 99 Movies and 50 Books to go

It’s good to be back. As coldly and disconnectedly I say it, it’s not far from truth. Last few months, I don’t even know how I spent my days, they just flew by. I have been exposed to an absolutely unique set of ideas and interacted with amusingly new breed of people. There has been less time to stare at the ceiling, to talk to the mirror and watch series back-to-back and read books repeatedly. All I remember is people and conversations buzzing around.

To stop the above trend, 2014 began with a plan – ‘100 movies and 50 books’. So the ‘plan’ is to read 50 good books (I define the ‘good’) and watch 100 movies (I am definitely not referring to the romantic-comedy category). Ironically, but as I would have expected, the plan only initiated today, a month delayed, now you know am not just philosophizing above.

It couldn’t have been a better start, nevertheless, with ‘V for Vendetta’, the movie.

This is where my heart skipped a beat “Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition! The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honor to meet you and you may call me “V”.”

Anyways, we all have a story to tell, I will weave mine with quotes and stolen ideas from similar pieces of work. It’s not a coincidence that you sometimes find your life in fiction or reel, because ideas are like viruses and everything that we can imagine has perhaps been written or recorded. It’s time to go on a roll.

99 movies and 50 books to go!

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And then ‘Bablu Yadav from Bihar’ happened !

I had been to Jharkhand few years back. I decided that until really compelling circumstances come around, I won’t repeat that trip or anything similar. They say it right when they say ‘never say never’.

So Bihar happened last week. It was volunteer travel opportunity for a rural livelihoods innovation project. Don’t ask me why I agreed to it, knowing it was Bihar, not the place I ever fascinated visiting. I was probably PMSing and must have thought Bihar would anyday be better than that. Or whatever. I just said ‘fine’ with a sigh. And mark it, it wasn’t just Patna, there was Nalanda, Champaran, Gopaljanj, Bhojpur and Chhapra. To sum all the generic highlights of the trip- 1000 kms on road over 4 days, 6 districts, litti-chokha, pedas, Bhojpuri songs, trial Bihari conversations, ‘dehati’ Bihari mutton, endless drives through countryside, Thawe temple, ‘jungle baba’ ki Samadhi, shady Gopalganj hotel (the Descent types from Jab We Met, since it is the best you can get in the city, you can’t even complain), the feel of Nalanda, the famous ‘khaja’ (reminded me of the lines from andher nagri, chaupat raja), Valmiki forest, inspiring young men and women and the list is endless.

So in these 5 days and so many hours, and so many miles and places, that one moment happened when I met Babloo Yadav (merely 23-24 he must be). It was no less melodramatic. I was in the degree college in West Champaran district in a classroom for a volunteer recruitment session. And in comes this gang of Bihar dudes, led by a skinny jeans clad guy wearing Chinese aviators and headphones plugged in. I just stopped talking and looked at him, while he stared back piercingly and took off his goggles. Now what do I say about Yadav Ji’s personality. You only know it when you meet him. ‘Dude’ the woh, the tone when he said “Babloo Yadav from Bihar maddam. Le lijiye haemin.. woh sab hamein nahi naah pata, but ho jaayega, aap pareshaan naa hi hoyiye”. He definitely beat all that I had heard about the typical Delhi guy till date. He epitomized Bihar for me.

For all the awesome food that I stuffed in my face, and the fun I had, but specially for having met ‘Babloo Yadav Ji’, I say whoever wrote this one week in my life, kiss your hands !!

PS: I rejected Babloo Yadav in the interview. Unka heartwaa tod diya !! 😛 And I am sure you are left wondering whether I fell for Babloo Yadav or hated him. So am I 🙂

 

How I ‘Beat the Heat’ !!

So, all of you dissolving in the Bambai rains can’t even imagine the ‘state of affairs’ in Delhi. The temperature here reaches 45 degrees. The city is like an open furnace. You could keep your chicken on the car bonnet and it’d grill. You cannot have a cold water shower ever. You can however, reel in the pleasure that you get to have a steam bath everyday. Frankly, the only good part perhaps is the butter melts quickly.

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And within all this torture, sometimes it plays ‘powercut games’ with you. It’s like your own little personal hell stimulator. And especially when it happens post 11 o clock at night, I see a justification why the electricity board office would keep their telephone lines off. They definitely don’t want a downpour of abuses.

Basically I feel helpless sometimes, literally counting seconds. I have pondered the idea of walking to a 24*7 store for a coffee. I console myself with a walk on the terrace, that I am finally burning few more calories. I have stared with all possible jealousy at the far-off metro station which is still lighted up, despite the services having shut down by 11pm.

They are perhaps right when they say it’s all in the mind. One a similar night, I stood on my terrace gazing down at the lonely road. I saw three sights, each of them a story. I saw a truck full of bricks pass-by; two men sleeping on the bed of those bricks. Another man cross up to the divider, opened his folding bed, placed it there right below the streetlight, settled himself on it and quietly dozed off. Two men by the coconut water stall, opened up their mosquito net, set it up with bricks, crawled inside and perhaps within seconds, dozed off to another land.

I quietly went down to my room, got a bedsheet and 3 cushions, arranged them on the seating slab on my terrace, lay down staring at the stars. It wasn’t that bad after all.

That’s the only way you beat the heat. It’s all in the mind after all.

This is how shits happens !!

images“In the beginning, there was the Plan. And then came the Assumptions. And the Assumptions were without form, and the Plan was without substance. And darkness was upon the face of the Workers. And they spoke among themselves, saying, “It is a crock of shit and it stinketh.”

And the Workers went unto their Supervisors and said, “It is a pail of dung and none may abide the odour thereof.”

And the Supervisors went unto their Managers, saying, “It is a container of excrement and it is very strong, such that none may abide by it.”

And the Managers went unto their Directors, saying, “It is a vessel of fertilizer and none may abide it’s strength.”

And the Directors spoke amongst themselves, saying one to another, “It contains that which aids plant growth and it is very strong.”

And the Directors went unto the Vice President, saying, “It promotes growth and it is very powerful.”

And the Vice Presidents went unto the President, saying, “This new Plan will actively promote the growth and vigour of the company with powerful effects.”

And the President looked upon the Plan and saw that it was good.

And the Plan became Policy. This is how Shit Happens.” Really

How ‘sweet’ is 16 ??

What does ‘16’ mean to us Indians?

  • You are jostling with your first ever board exams and to top it, there is that persistent sword on your head what subjects to opt for high school.
  • You’re giggling and making silly comments about the teacher teaching Reproduction in Biology.
  • You have probably very recently got your own individual room in your house (or there is high probability, you are still sharing with your sibling)
  • Your parents are slyly sneaking into your computer/ laptop to make sure you are not into visiting porn sites
  • Just an extended private time in your room alone, and your mom is worried what you are upto. (I don’t think Indian mothers go the extent of thinking you might be masturbating, but still it’s a discomforting thought for her)
  • You mother never misses an opportunity to complain to your dad how you just waste time on phone/ chatting/ facebook with friends and are not concentrating on your studies.
  • Girls !! I assume you still leave home for a party with that shrug on so that you can get rid of it no sooner you are out of your house. It is behenji to be so fully clad, after all.
  • Don’t even think of drinking at 16, you still have good 9 years to go before you can enter that bar/ pub
  • Also let’s not forget, in our country, if you are accused of rape at 17, you are tried as a juvenile
  • By the way, you still can’t vote. You are too young to make that decision for the country
  • And how could I miss this one, you probably don’t yet have an ID card and you still can’t drive on the roads. Maximum, you can be a learner

And now GoM brings down consensual sex age to 16 “on the ground that marriages happen at an early age in rural India. The bringing down of the age will prevent in criminalisation of sex.”

So going by the above- as per sequential order, one’s life has been streamlined as follows: Sex at 16, vote at 18, marry at 21 and by the time you are 25, and your life is hell, go ahead and Drink !!

So at 16, you have enough wisdom to decide who to sleep with (Can’t deny a few might, but for the majority of the rest, I can’t vouch). Congratulations to you all, who just turned 16. To hell with the government and our politicians (can’t still say whether it’s a good or bad move), but as always, your logic and reasons stink and the ‘grounds’ that you lay down are lame as ever.

PS: The age 16 for consensual sex is promising. It is natural after all. But the question is are ‘we’ Indians ready for it? Is it only applicable for the DPS and those fancy metro school kids (not that anything stopped them till date)? I have no answers yet !!

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Working Together towards ‘Change’

I have been speaking to many people and volunteers on being active citizens, working together, asking themselves “who am I” and “What change am I going to influence today”. Perhaps a very simplistic definition of ‘actively working together’ in a representative democracy like ours is to maintain a balance between our rights and responsibilities.

Let us put in it simple bullet points, what we have gathered about active citizenship:

  • Right to engage in the creation and recreation of a democratic society
  • Right to participate in all the democratic practices and institutions within that society
  • Responsibility to ensure that no groups or institutions are excluded from these practices and institutions
  • Responsibility to ensure that a broad definition of the political includes all relationships and structures within the social arrangement

As a follow-up to this understanding of ‘working together’, what evidently emerges is that the most significant dimension of ‘active citizenship’ is ‘social change’. So we now know who is an active citizen? Although there is no universally accepted definition, there is a general agreement that active citizens are those citizens who get involved in public life and affairs. These are citizens who actively become involved in their communities, tackling problems or bringing about ‘change’ or resisting unwanted change. They develop requisite skills, knowledge and understanding to be able to make informed decisions about their communities and workplaces with the aim of improving the quality of life in the society. In all, they constructively engage the society for the betterment of lives.

If the societies must function well, citizens must engage well as representatives and agents of ‘change’. Basic indicators that a society is headed towards constructive social change is citizens demonstrating interest in socio-economic and political matters, volunteering with organisations and networks, participating in interest groups, in peaceful protests, voicing themselves in public debates etc. Societal successes and change are not achieved by the sole effort of the constituted authority but by the collaborative effort of the citizens and the government.

Active citizenship is thus an important concept that brings together three well established principles of best-practice within development, namely the importance of participation and working together; rights-based approaches to development; and good governance. There is little doubt that active citizens are a powerful force for ‘good change’, and the focus on active citizenship will affect future development at the local, national and regional levels. change-management1-300x225