Sunday, March 29, 2009

A weekend of theatre & a memorable drive towards Kamshet.

On Saturday evening, a friend of mine from college days, Avra and I went to Prithvi theatre to watch 30 days in September. A beautiful & sensitive piece on child-abuse within family penned by Mahesh Dattani and directed by Lilette Dubey. It was wonderful to see it being performed to a full house but he highlight of the evening was to see Ira Dubey perform; She’s spontaneous, & a natural! She reminded me of another beautiful performer, Kitu Gidwani…But Ira, you are definitely a treat to watch…wish you all the very best!

A dear friend, who’s taking all the pain in the world to make my staying Bombay as comfortable as possible (trust me it’s quite a job, give that commute in this city is quite painful) took me to this place called Rainmaker’s Shack, It’s located near Lonavala, to be more specific on the way to Amby Valley. You can dine at this place only at owner’s invitation & the place is amazing! It boasts of a bohemian look, & some amazing food… with a hefty price to pay of course. The interiors were perfectly done in sync with the rugged exteriors!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

This is my story....a cabbie's tale

I am a cabbie or popularly known as taxi-driver in the streets of Bombay, yes I live here, earn my bread & butter, and feed my family, braving the tough life here, the rains & the unthinkable adversities of life! You can call me any name, Ram, Kishan, Rahim, Abdul… anything! A name won’t change my face or struggle…the imprint of struggle is all over Bombay, irrespective of caste, creed, religion even for that matter the strata of the society…only the nature of the struggle differs!
This is my story…I live in the chawls of Bandra, yes Bombay has chawls all over, I share a room with eight others for a Rs. 450/- a month, I wouldn’t go very deep into the living conditions..I hear its portrayed time again in the cinema & books in the recent times. I have taken the taxi on rent, have to pay Rs. 260/- per day to the owner with an additional 150 that I pay for the fuel...oh yes, I forgot…I got to clean it for a 15 per day…With this 425 in mind I start my day… They say, Bombay is a city of dreams…I dream of earning those extra bucks every day, which I am going to send home to buy a few better quality seeds for the small land I own in one of the lesser known villages in Uttar Pradesh, pay for the education for those two children at home, & tend to household expenses. To fuel my dreams, I need to fuel my stomach too…not less than 100 bucks per day, Though there have been umpteen days when I have skipped meals! When I am lucky, I make about 800-900 in a day…& there are bad days too… all in all, I make about 9000 in a month…I work about five-six months in a year, then I go back to my village, for the rest of the year looking after the land & some small time work that I find for myself! But things are changing…There is unrest in Bombay for UP’wallahs’ & Bihari’wallahs” like us, the sleeker comfortable cars are coming as taxi…commuters prefer those…but we’ll fight, we’ll survive.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Crab-Catchers' plight

One thing that continues to amaze me time & again are the various ways people in our country make a living, braving dangerous conditions, ferocity of nature & other circumstances un-imaginable to most city-breds like me who work in Air-conditioned environment! Be it the honey collector’s of Sunderbans, the fishermen in the ocean & so many more, they put their lives at risk, just to make a living. I came across these Nulia boys barely into their teens, who make a living by catching live red crabs, meant to be in aquariums for the affluent, in the beaches of Orissa. The crabs bite them, but they are undaunted! I am no cinematographer, but this quick video will tell you their everyday struggle!

Monday, March 16, 2009

A commuter's tale

Well, before any die-hard Calcuttans & Bangaloreans accuse me, this is certainly not a Calcutta/Bangalore-bashing trip that I have emerged on, just penning down a few observations that I have made on the course of my journey. I have spent quite a bit of my time in the above mentioned cities & presently working in Bombay. More than two-thirds of my commute in all the cities were off-course though the rick, or as the complete version goes, Auto-rickshaws, so you can call me a SME on the issue. Let me start with Bangalore, a very nice city, in fact my favorite city in spite of its chock-a-bloc traffic & the rick guys that I am going to talk about. Describing them in one word would be “arrogant” …yeah, that’d be the word. Imagine a day…clear blue sky, sunny & warm… a few of ricks parked on the road-side & rickies chatting away, may be one of them reading a newspaper, you request them for a commute… they DECLINE, simply an arrogant no! In some cases even if they say yes, they’d ask for an outrageous amount that you’d not know how to respond! Arnab, my friend always suspected that they have some other source of earning bread & butter! Their Calcutta counterpart is another extreme… well, most of the time they don’t have a choice of saying no, since all the ricks ply on a set route & the fare is decided for the same (though there arises occasions when they make an extra buck or two given the commuter’s compulsion!!) But a ride on a rick in Calcutta could be unimaginably painful….They take five, Six or sometimes even seven people as opposed to the standard three in most of the cities, they cuss at each other, compete on racing with other ricks, continuously honk, do not follow any lane discipline (as a result of which the commuters are tossing & turning inside). I wonder if any documentation is done, but the rick accidents are very much commonplace in Calcutta! In all of these I have only the authorities & the Government to blame!!! The Government doesn’t give a fig about its people’s well being….it’s as simple as that!!! On the contrary the Bombay rickies are the sweetest lot, they never refuse the passenger, despite however short the commute is & how late it is at night, they always have change, they make sure that you reach the right destination, they themselves are very well-versed with the routes, they seldom honk & behave on the road…what more do you need from these guys who cater to such a huge number of commuters everyday! Saying all these, I must mention that there are exceptions all through, but my perception holds true for the majority of these rickies in the respective cities.

P.S. – Using the old name of these cities is intentional.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fly away....!

Ever since I remember, I have always wanted to fly! If anyone asked me what I want to be born as in my next birth, given a choice I’d always say a bird. Perhaps there’s this feeling of being liberated associated with flying… that could possibly be the reason! In my growing up years, flying planes was hardly a feasible option & being an air-hostess is not the same as flying…. Actually I wanted to feel the wind on my face, my arms spread…. Well, I came pretty much close to the feeling, when I had been for parasailing in Hoskote, a few KMs away from Bangalore, a couple of weeks before I left… another very enthusiastic friend of mine who shared a similar passion agreed on giving me company… a quick video enclosed here, that he happened to take while I took off…. had fun… so much fun in those few minutes that I was there high up in the sky!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Victims of fame!

There’s a lot of hullabaloo happening around Slumdog millionaire… no I am not going to go on how the movie is or how true it is etc. my concern is the kids… those small lads & lass are in the middle of a lot of attention to the extent that they are roped in to campaign for the upcoming national elections! I am sure they are paid a lofty amount for it, & there parents or whoever making the decisions for them don’t want to let the opportunity pass! It’s all well & good now, but when the big honchos won’t need them… what then?! If they don’t utilize this money to get a good education for themselves, they will again go back to the doom from where Boyle had picked them up! Life’s cruel…who’ll tell them?!!!!
The other piece that also needs to be given a thought to is, why these political parties don’t pay attention to one of the most brutal acts of mankind happening in our country… maiming of children, making them permanently wounded, & an organized crime happening around it! Why doesn’t the Government crack down on these criminals & punish them so hard that any of these criminals dare not think about such things ever again!! I, a common man, think that would give any political party more mileage than they can ever think of … maybe power & money have screwed up these good-for-nothing power mongers’ heads so much, they can’t even think straight!!!

An inani"mate"

I had this wonderful conversation with a very dear friend of mine about the feelings he went through while buying a car, which he felt having an ironic parallel to choosing a bride. Before that I must share a little about my friend, he grew up in a fairly middleclass family & unlike many his age never had a fascination for cars! One day stuck in the torrential Mumbai rain, when his rick got stuck on the flyover, he decided that’s it…a car it has to be. Without a clue about driving & after going through the whole process of enrolling in the D-school, passing the exam (which convinced him, about the kind of drivers in the road!!) & booking a car, finally it was the day when the car would be delivered! i-10 has just been launched, & he was in a hurry since his Mum was visiting him then, & he wanted the delivery before she leaves for Calcutta, He never saw the car (only had the knowledge that she would be red…whoa!) finally on the D-day, he’s off to the warehouse with the delivery guy, & he’s waiting… & the moment comes when the new lady in his life is driven in…in his words, the same feeling when you go to see a girl for the first time, & she walks in with a tray in her hand…& the feeling flushes inside, that in good times or bad you are the one who’s going to be by my side, a sense of possessiveness & control taking over….he spends on her, …an inanimate object getting more than animated treatment…no wonder there arises occasions when men love their car more than they love their wife!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

lost in the past...

Brought myself to writing again, another humble attempt! `
A lot has changed since May 2008, I have relocated to Calcutta, changed organization… & so many more things. Most importantly, I don’t live alone anymore! Well, if you detect a twinge of regret in my words… you are actually right! I had this very cute place in Koramangala (in Bangalore) with a kitchenette & a drawing room, where I lazed out my weekend afternoons, made a quick meal for myself, went up in the terrace with a mug of coffee & a book of poems when I am lonely …. I miss all that! Well, it’s great to be back at Parent’s, there happiness to see me back at home makes me feel good, & I don’t have to sweat out on the responsibility of cleaning, cooking & washing any longer… but I have a feeling of something lost…I don’t know why!!! A friend of mine, who happens to be no more, had told me long back, infact we were in high school then, I always considered him to be too prosaic for his age, but somehow the words ring true now… He had said that the biggest lost is not in death or destruction but in the loss of self… what he meant was, that when a kid grows up, he leaves his childhood behind & a lot many emotions that he’ll never feel again… that’s a loss. The beautiful days & nights that I have left back in Bangalore… I’ll never get them back… even if I go to stay there in some point of time in my life in future… they have left me forever, rather I have left them behind forever!