Monday, 9 September 2013

Life's Like That...

Something I thought I should share with you. Nothing very serious or urgent, just like that.

Today morning, I boarded my usual train from Vikhroli. It was a bit overcrowded today and Monday blues were not allowing me to fight them to get in. However, I managed and found a place near the door, enough to squeeze myself in. There were many college students in my coach, discussing isometric and orthogonal projections which lovingly reminded my engg days. Then I happened to see the old man standing next to me on the door. He had a beard and a cap, clearly depicting his religious background. Not a problem, there are many around in Mumbai. 

In 15 mins, the train approached Sion station and quite some crowd got down. Equal or more ppl boarded the train and then train started. Just then, this bearded man jumped out of the train and went away. Weird I thought, as he could have got down the train when others were getting down. Why did he wait. Then my leg hit a cardboard box of a mixer-grinder that was lying behind him, when he was standing. At first I thought it must be someone else's. But the way he had got down made me suspicious. So I started asking ppl around ki yeh box kiska hai. Quite a few ppl around me replied negative, that the box wasn't theirs. Then one guy said, box ke saath toh ek chacha khade the na, voh kahaan hai.

Shit, for that moment, i completely lost my head. Possibly, I was standing next to a potential explosive. The train was moving, and was passing through a slum area. If I kick the box out, it might blast on the spot or outside and it blasts outside, it will hurt the slums around. If I don't, it may blow up our coach. I could read a similar feeling on faces of ppl around me. There was a feeling of shock and fear striking them. And ppl started shouting asking ki yeh dabba kiska hai. For a min, no claimers. Then suddenly one guy shouted from the other side of the coach, 'voh mixer mera hai'.

Ppl made that claimant remember all his mothers and sisters but was so nice to see the guy come and pick the box. I felt like hugging him and thanking him.  For a moment, that feeling of terror had actually made us numb.

I have no ill feelings against any community, but the sequence of events that took place instilled a fear in my mind as well. Without any hesitation, I had perhaps accused the old man. I felt bad, but could not make my mind if I was right of thinking so or not. But had my fear been true, there was a possibility I could not have been here to write this mail. Had the person not claimed the mixer, we would have pulled the chain and jumped out of the train, but we did not know how much time we had. The whole 20 mins walk to the office after this journey, I was engrossed in senseless thoughts about my loved ones.

It is bad that our society gets instilled with fear pretty easily. Hurting the minds is perhaps more a success of the offenders than actually hurt someone physically.

Don't take it too seriously, just thought of sharing with you.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Larger than Life...

yet another backup...

On a train from Shimla to Delhi, there was a halt in one of the stations. The train stopped by for few minutes as usual. Sachin was nearing century, batting on 98. The passengers, railway officials, everyone on the train waited for Sachin to complete the century. This Genius can stop time in India!!
- Peter Rebouck - Aussie journalist

A friend of mine visited Mumbai recently and I took her around for some sight-seeing. On reaching Shivaji Park, I mentioned to her that this beach used to be very clean in my childhood and I have played a lot here. Its just now that it is so dirty. All she said was this place will always hold high in minds of people, as this is where Sachin started playing from. Imagine someone travelling 18 hrs from heart of India to the western coast and just enjoying the feeling of standing on the place where her favourite sports personality has his roots into.

This one little man of about 5'5 has a real tall presence. Try watching the WC2011 finals in Mumbai if, and I wish this be true, India plays in that match. The crowd would deafen a person sitting in Churchgate station when Sachin steps in. Celebrating people has always been in us. Be it from cricket, films or even a local hero. I was amazed to hear some facts about Sachin from this friend of mine and I felt she might not have as much knowledge of her family members as she has for this little master. And she's not the only one. Trust me, there are so many people on this planet who wrote, read and analyzed minute details of life of Sachin. There are various texts available on the internet who talk about Sachin. Most of his matches would be available in form of videos. Documentaries, commentaries, expert views, loads of numbers and statistics, list of whatever records one can possibly set and what not. And people spend collecting a lot of that stuff.

And it is not just celebrating the sports person, it is perhaps more of a human being that Sachin attracts people for. He represents not just a class of sport, he represents commitment  Not just the 1999 Pakistan match with that terrible back pain, the Kenya match in world cup soon after. That man had just returned from his father's funeral and with eyes all red, he had an unbeaten 140. And there are so many instances that shout about it. His humble talks, his approach towards the boys, his small gestures to the crowd when on field and many other life touching things make him more popular and lovable among his fans.

One more part I like about this person is that he instigates. Yes, he instigates a lot of young blood to take up sport. So many children dream of becoming a Tendulkar. Many of them take steps forward than just dreaming, because they get support. Tendulkar has been unknowingly making so many children take up things seriously.

Very few of his fans (and others who follow sports, not just cricket) might be ignorant of his dedication, his hard work and his effort in the game. It is despite all this and other odds, that he has stood up and represented the best. He has set benchmarks in sport, and as a human. I don't know if God does things effortlessly, or can mortals ever achieve such a state. But I would not have expected Him to be any better than what Sachin represents.


Note: This was written in context of the pre-primary admissions drama that caught media attention in 2010, esp. in Delhi. Publishing it now just as online backup of some of my writeups...

I stay in Delhi and have a kid, grown enough to attend a school now. Genuinely, I want the best of the education to be provided to him. Would I stand against the interviews? Perhaps not. Is it just because I care for my child and want the surest way out? I am justified in it. When I, as a parent, ask my child to sit and study for IIT from his school days, my motive still is to provide my child a quality life and secure future. After all, out of the billions, how many Sachin Tendulkars and Shreya Ghoshals would be produced? Its definitely not a sure way to let my child go.

But can my child really become next Sachin Tendulkar? I don't think so, perhaps because I don't understand what is required to be one. I never was. I don't understand how good does my child sing on the school stage to allow her take up singing as her career. But yes, I had appeared for IIT JEE in my school days and hence I know that if my child clears that exam, he is going to have a great life. There are opportunities available today, which weren't in my time. I might be a proud parent if my child goes on television talent shows and wins, but fear criticize if he loses. Am I just pressurizing him for me?

But please, as a parent I am justified in pressurizing my child. After all, I care for his future. And please be patient, my child will rise above all. No child likes studying. They like extra-curricular activities. Its normal. And my child is no exception. But I have neither the guts nor the vision to change that 'extra' curriculum to a career opportunity. I visited our VP's home the other day. Know what, his daughter, who is still in 6th standard, says she wants to be a fashion designer. Ha ha ha. Bade log badi baatein. My child will also be a designer, but perhaps designing PWD roads or maruti cars. You should be practical. 

All that is perhaps my fear or my weakness. The truth is I am afraid of allowing my child take up a new road, never traversed by me. I don't know the challenges he will face. I don't know whether he will reach his destination. But I don't want him to abandon the road in between and wither off. And the first step I take here is ensuring an admission to a renouned school. I cannot stand alone against the system. I cannot help it out because my child would lose a year. But today, there is media, there are other resources who are bringing my problems to you. No one knows how much did my father do for my admission. Its not new, but now we are aware of it. Let's work together and straighten the process. I don't mind pressure at IIT and IIM level. They are meant to be. But allow my child to play and sing till he understands the need for pressure.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Water everywhere...

I arrived in London last Saturday. This is my second visit to the city. Reaching at my accommodation at around 9 PM, I was delighted to see the India-Pakistan cricket match being telecasted live.

In the following days, I glued to NDTV to get news from my country. The news of floods in southern India is dominating the screen these days. It is painful to see many dead and countless losing their homes. I happened to discuss one such issue of past with my room-mate. He described me his experiences in a relief operation he was a part of, that served the people affected by flooding of the River Kosi in Bihar last year. And then I browsed over the internet to search for news about climate that made headlines in past one year or so. Ironically, not too long before, many parts of the country declared state of drought due to failure of the monsoon. The message was loud and clear. We lack the basic infrastructure to manage our water needs.

It is not the first time in history that India is marred by such ironic situation. Year after year, parts of India cry for shortage of water and monsoon failures, whereas some other parts are unable to handle excessive rainfall. We perhaps need to store this flood water and use it in times of drought. We store water at catchments, where it rains well. If we are unable to do the same, or it is expected to rain more than our storing capacity, logically, we should divert the water to some other place.

Way back in a geography class in my secondary school, I was taught about the National River Linking Project. Every time I hear of this term, a map of India appears on my mind, with the Ganga flowing east from Uttaranchal area, the Bhramaputra covering parts of North-eastern states, the five rivers of Punjab, the Narmada and Godavari in the plateau and the Cauvery in the South, all interconnected by network of canals. More like a web across the nation. All leading to prosperity and averting adversity. But this project never took off from the pages of text books. May be because it is much complicated than just drawing a web on a paper map.

Well, I don’t ask for the Ganga connected to the Cauvery, but we can create small units where canals can connect neighbouring rivers. Or perhaps various catchments. We could group certain regions to form a unit within which the interlinking can be done. For our convenience, let us call these units a Hydrosquare. Each hydrosquare could be well studied and designed taking into account the environmental effects and its impact on people staying in the concerned areas. Canals constructed within a hydrosquare could divert the excessive water to the other side or more catchments, which can preserve water. All hydrosquares in a large region could be governed by central controller, who has enough visibility on availability and demand of water in each of them. A hydrosquare could be an area covering the high rainfall region, a supplying hydrosquare, or a low rainfall region, a receiving hydrosquare. The demand of water in each hydrosquare could be studied. If supply is more than demand, excessive water could be passed on the next demanding hydrosquare.

Apart from other concerns, cost has been among top noise makers in the National River Linking Project. Innovative ideas can be sought for to meet up the cost of developing such canals and catchments. I would love to give you the example of the Thane Municipal Corporation here. This city, neighbour of Mumbai, had issues with water supply to its citizen years back. A study revealed that the pipes that supplied water to various parts of city had corroded and reported huge amount of seepage. Thus, despite availability of water, the citizen faced a shortage. The Municipal Corporation was not in a position to fund the entire repairing and replacement of the pipes. It came up with a unique idea. It asked the citizen of Thane to pay certain taxes for a specific period at once in advance. This money was directed to repairs and replacement of the pipes. Today, the problem of water shortage in houses of Thane has been done with. And the Municipal Corporation could manage the funding very well. The money too got utilized in the areas it was collected for.

India has been an agricultural country since independence, perhaps long before that. Agriculture has been a primary occupation and India cannot afford to neglect this. However, every year there is a sense of insecurity among the farmer fraternity about the approaching monsoon. And history shows a lot many farmer suicides across the country due to the failure of rains. It’s well past time that we get serious about solving this problem. A possible solution to end this is to reduce dependency on natural availability of water. Of course we cannot substitute rains, but we can store this excess water every year and use it in dry places and times of drought.

Actress Sharmila Tagore quoted on television the other day, that on one side the newspapers read India finding traces of water on moon and on other side, taps of various houses in Delhi, the national capital, were dry. Not thinking of bringing the moon water home, we could at least allow our clouds to carry the water from land to land here.