World is Watching

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Kolkata Diaries: entering the arena

Posted by Chandan Sharma on 11:49:00 AM with No comments


I stood for a while on the gate of my bogie, after spending a splendid night in my 1st class coupe in Kolkata Rajdhani express. With all beautiful thoughts about the city of joy-Kolkata running randomly in my mind, I tried to push myself out of the bogie. As soon as saw people outside the train, I realized that this city is also the city of humid climate and dripping drops of sweat. I took a long breath, as if wanted to store the fresh air-conditioned air of the train in my lungs for as long as I could manage.  

I stepped out of the train. Two eyes were staring at me, two big and beautiful eyes. A Bengali lady with a red and big round ‘Bindi’ stacked on her forehead was gazing at me. I was about to smile at her but I noticed a red spot hiding under her hair, ‘she is married’ I concluded. On one hand, her big ‘Bindi’ indicated a traditional Bengali lady and on the other hand her hardly visible ‘Sindoor’ was a symbol of newly married girls. I moved on with my useless observations.

DADA, TAXI CHAI?’ A hurried man asked awkwardly. I understand a little Bengali but it should be loud and clear. He read my face as a psychologist and paraphrased his question, ‘DADA, taxi lagega aapko?’ Though still not in complete Hindi but was quite understood. ‘Behala jana hai, kitna kiraya?’ He didn’t answer but smiled, somehow it seemed similar to a victorious smile. ‘DADA, aapse kya kiraya, 500 de dena.’ He almost started to snatch my bag from me. I protested and continued to pull the bag, for a while a tug-of-war took place between us. He realized that he cannot pull the bag from me and surrendered.

I proceeded straight to pre-paid taxi booth. A long queue was impatiently waiting for its turn. I became a part of it. Soon, the first drop of sweat dripped from my forehead and disappeared into my eye-brows. I took out my handkerchief and tried to wipe out the sweat and as soon as I did so, a new layer of sweat appeared on face within no time. I forcibly puffed a breath out of my mouth to reduce my restlessness. BEHALA- INR 200, finally I got my slip in my hand and jumped out of that twitchy queue. I started walking towards my taxi while the queue watched me enviously.

It was a long fight between me and layer of sweat. Every time I wiped it from my face if reappeared. But I didn’t lose the hope and kept on fighting until my handkerchief reached its saturation point. The Owen-clad taxi led me to Behala crossing Howrah Bridge, victoria palace and millions of people.

‘MANI-KANCHAN GUESTHOUSE’ was my destination. I stepped towards the receptionist. A middle-aged man greeted me in Bengali and in return, I smiled. I asked him about the room my friend had booked. His eye-brows jumped for a mini second which screamed loudly his inner voice, ‘Ah…non-Bengali.’

I rushed into my room and threw my bag on the bed. I hurried to the bathroom to take bath. I think for the first time in my life I felt so urgency to take a bath. Life is strange…isn’t it? While I was taking bath, somebody kept in knocking my door with constant chant if ‘DADA’. I deliberately ignored him and concentrated on the ‘divine cold water’ pouring on my face from the ‘angelic shower’.

I looked at the bed closely. The bed-sheet was as old as Kolkata. A red spot on the bed sheet was a witness of a brutal murder of a mosquito and blots on it were giving me an obnoxious feeling. I opened my bag and took out my cloths.

I ordered fish-curry and rice for me. A plate with fish curry, vegetable, Daal and rice was there within no time. I was hungry and the presence of that decorated plate made my mouth flooded with saliva. I tasted the vegetable first, it tasted sweet. I tasted again…it was really a bit sweet. All of a sudden I realized that Bengali put sugar in almost all of their dishes. I tasted everything and apart from ‘Daal’ everything had an essence of sugar. I controlled my anger and concentrated on rice, Daal and pieces of fish. It was weird because I don’t like having veg with non-veg, but it was demand of stomach. Sweat, meanwhile ignored the fan and continued to bother me.   

‘I want a different and AC-room.’ I declared in front of receptionist. He quickly understood that I was not in a good mood. He managed for a different room without any delay after I agreed with the revised rest for the AC-room. I went inside the AC-room which was better than the earlier one. Not great but still ok. I took a long breath and fell on the bed as a falling tree.

I opened my eyes slowly after an hour. The sweat was dripping insanely from my body. I stood up from the bed in a flash and switched on the button of tube-light, but it refused to glow. There was no electricity. I rushed to the reception yet again to ask them whether they have power back-up. The person on the reception was fighting with the sweat with the help of a hand-fan. I got my answer. AC room is of no use without light. Am I being too finicky about all these? The question echoed in my mind. The electricity came back and I saw the outline of my body made of sweat on the bed.

I stepped towards the market area and found it very crowded. Sweat, crowd, noise, traffic, unknown-language and pollution, I wondered why Kolkata is called a ‘city of joy’?

Slowly I merge with the crowd and became a part of it. I stopped wiping layer of sweat from my face. I saw happy faces enjoying tea on the roadside stalls. All of a sudden, old ones, youngsters…everybody seemed to be happy. They were not bothered about any of the things which were troubling me. This crowd was alienated from the issues of Bengali, non-Bengali, fair, dark, cast or community. They were enjoying every bit of their life. But the question was, how?

What is true happiness, the luxuries, relatives, friends, money or something else? May be I can learn it from these roadside dwellers more than the people in AC-rooms and travelling in AC cars. May be I can learn many things from them in a few days. These days would teach me about the real happiness and inner joy. It is just the first day and I have already realized that my frustration was much lesser than it was couple of hours ago.

I carried a candle, a hand-fan and some ‘DOI MISHTI’ (Doi =Dahi, thanks to Bengali friends) with me while returning to my AC-room, Moni-Kanchan guest house, behala, Kolakata – the city of joy.









Friday, April 26, 2013

Remembering 1st January

Posted by Chandan Sharma on 8:11:00 PM with No comments
When I opened my eyes on 1st Jan, I was scared to go to office. It was not because of upcoming New Year’s celebrations. I am a team leader and according to the business protocol, I am the person responsible to make sure that my whole team is present and working. I was scared to pick up my mobile because I was sure that people would have sent me their excuses for the leave. And thanks to my team members, it happened. I had many excuses lined up for the day. I had production hour shrinkage to deal with but there were many excuses which actually made me to smile. I have shared a few, read it and enjoy.

1. My Mother got missing: The one which started the series of funny excuses was this one. The guy sent me an SMS that his mother is missing. My reaction was ‘What?’ I called him and he said that his mother is missing. I asked whether he has launched any FIR. He said ‘No’ because father is out to find her. I asked him that how he can be so reluctant about it. He replied that her mother has done it in past as well. I disconnected the phone thanking her mother to get missing on 1st Jan.

2. A monkey has blocked my house-gate: I called the guy and asked to clarify the situation. He said that a monkey is sitting near gate and is not ready to go. He added that he was too scared to go out.I scolded him and asked whether you are a man or a girl who is scared of a monkey. I ordered him to drive the monkey away. But he started crying. ‘Wow!’ a boy is scared of a damn monkey and is not ready to come out of the house. It is awesome.

3. Cannot find the dress: This girl is so innocent. She informed me that she cannot make to the office today because she cannot find the dress which she was supposed to wear today. She described that how painful it was to hand-wash this dress and now she couldn’t find it. I asked her to come to office in any dress. But she sounded so jittery that I was confused whether she has misplaced her dress or skin.

4. Cancer: A girl from my team dropped me a text that she thinks that she has breast-cancer and she cannot come to office today. She added in the text that she will be on time from tomorrow onwards. I called her and some boy picked up. I asked him that whether I can speak with the girl. And the boy said that she is taking bath. I asked about her well-being and boy answered that she is not well, sever cough-cold. I disconnected the phone. Poor girl forgot to discuss the reason of leave with her boyfriend.

5. A mouse is in trouble: One of the guys sent me an SMS to let me know that he cannot come to office because a mouse has inhabited his Bike’s silencer and is not ready to come out. ‘Excuse me.’ I called him to ask him whether he is serious. He sounded so concerned over the phone. He said that mouse is perhaps stuck in there and a mechanic has been called. I had my hand on my head. I asked him ‘Dude’ take a public transport. And you won’t believe what he answered…he said that can’t come because he doesn’t want that mouse to die.

6. I am locked: I saved the best one for the last. Guy called me when 2 hours of the shift was left and said that he was locked inside his room. I asked how that is possible. He told me that he was playing chor (thief) - Police with his son and he locked him in the room and went to the market with his mother. And he lives on the seventh floor so it was impossible to come out through window. He also added that he had no mobile with him as it was kept in his living room.
I was astonished by the excuses. Worthless to say, all of them were marked absent. I was dazzled that mature people like them can make such excuses which do not stand anywhere. I only wanted to tell them that at least make some good excuses so that I can convince my managers that all of the people who are absent have genuine cause. Please share if you have faced such situation ever in life.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

...More Rape...feel free

Posted by Chandan Sharma on 6:13:00 PM with No comments

Ever since human has kept records of his acts and culture, women have been considered as a luxury item or a property. The powerful men, over the years, have used women to satisfy their darkest desires and fantasies. They were considered as status symbol as well. Hence, the powerful men must acquire all the beautiful women.  

In older days when men were considered uncivilized, they used to attack other weaker tribes to get slaves. Most of them used to be women. These women were enslaved to fulfill physical needs and for domestic works.

In Indian epic book like ‘Ramayana’, Sita (wife of Lord Rama) was abducted by Ravana. This abduction, not only reflected Ravana’s lust for Sita but also it was a token of disgrace to Rama. Lord Rama in reply killed Ravana and liberated Sita. But after the epic Rama-Ravana war, follows a purity test of Sita to make sure that she has not been tampered. The victim was harassed, insulted and humiliated. And that was because she was more like a property than a living woman.

Another Indian epic ‘The Mahabharata’ includes an episode where ‘Draupadi’ (wife of Pandavas) was treated as a property more than a woman.  She was kept on stakes in a gamble. Tortured and humiliated by her relatives, she pleaded for help but nobody listened to her, instead they tried to fiddle her morality.    

Here we are, now after hundreds of years, we are more civilized, more liberal and understanding. We have accepted the opposite gender as our better half. Women are contributing in all parts of society. The last president of India was a woman and Congress is being led by one of the most powerful women in Indian history. Gone are the days when we used to count women who have done well in their lives. Now, women have taken themselves out from the confines of counting and every woman is an achiever.

But, that’s only one side of the coin. Turn on the television and all you would find the reports and coverage stories of rape and domestic violence with women. Staring from 5 years old to 60 years old, every female seems in danger. You get one incident of rape and then similar reports are flooded on the news channels. How often have you wondered whether it is really happening or its all TRP game?  

I also wonder whether any time-machine has been invented somewhere, though which ancient brutal men are entering the civilized world, who can compel cruelty to its superlative degree.  In a recent incident, a five years old girl was not only raped but was almost murdered after it. Her private parts were injured by things like candles and bottles. How gross is that?   

After 16 December last year, people thought that government and specially police will be more sensitive and proactive towards such cases, but a tight slap on the face of a girl protester shows the sensitivity of Delhi police. The person was not a constable or less literate, he was the ACP. He was suspended and now police is waiting for people to get pacify as the time passes, so that, the suspended ACP can be recalled.

Celebration of ‘Navaratra’ and worshiping goddesses like Durga, Laxmi and so on, seems a drama and nothing more.  I am proud to be an Indian but such incidents are dishonorable, shameful and appalling.