Archive for March, 2012

Someone has to Give it Back


 

 

As  the  train pulled  out of  the  Jalandhar  City  station I waved  good  bye  to  my  father  from  the window  seat   in  a  second class  reserved  compartment. Being my first  journey  alone  I was  nervous  and  a  bit  scared . It  was  on  my  insistence  and  the  confidence  that  I  had profusely displayed  at  home   that  my parents had agreed  to  allow   me  to  spend  my summer  vacation  with my  cousins  in Delhi. As  my  father could  not  get  leave I volunteered  to  travel  alone. Now  trying  to   mask  my nervousness, I subtly  checked   the  presence of my   wallet  in the pocket  and  and  the  bag  underneath my  seat . Finding my  both  possessions  intact I  began  to  ogle  around  confidently. Sitting opposite  me was  an  old  lady , with white  hair , gold  rimmed  glasses and a  stern  gaze on her  face.  Clad  in  a  decent  salwar-kameez  she  was  busy  knitting. Sitting  next to  her was  an  elegant looking young  lady   with her  two  small  children  who seemed  to  around  three  or  four  years  old. Sitting next to  me  was  an  innocuous looking  middle  aged  man who  was  engrossed  in his  newspaper.

The train would  stop at  every station  and  this  being  the  office  hour  a  deluge  of  commuters  would  alight  and  board  the  train  irrespective  of  their  reservation  in  the  compartment. Soon  we  were  wooed   by  the  words  ‘Adjust karo’ and so we  were finally  well squeezed  to  our   ‘squeezing limit’.

Everything  seemed  to  be  going smoothly till the  time  two rowdy looking  middle-aged persons boarded the  train  from  a  small  station  and  adjusted themselves  on  my berth. With  unkempt  hair  and unshaven  faces  both had  repulsive  looks. The elder  of the  two even  looked  slightly tipsy.  He pointed  at  the  kid (i.e me) to get further squeezed  and  make  more  room  for them  on  the  seat. As  the train  moved  out of  this  station  they  began  their incessant  ogling   at  the  hapless  young  lady sitting on  the opposite  berth. She  sensed mischief  , ignored  them   and  continued  to  look out  of  the  window. Finding  himself  in  a  commanding  position the  elder  one  remarked  in  a  slurry tone  to  his equally mischievous  accomplice  “Aaj kal chote balon  ka  fashin aa  gaya hai” (nowdays  keeping short  hair  is  in  vogue).  To this  the second accomplice  gave  out a  short laughter and  they  continued  their  uninterrupted  leering  and  ribbing  at  the  young  lady.  “Aaj  kal hare  rang  ke suit  bahut chal rahe  hain” ( nowdays  green color suits are  in vogue) . The  young lady  was  clad  in green. On hearing this remark  the second  accomplice  nodded  in  agreement  and they  both let  out a  cheap  laughter.

To  my  horror , while  all this  was happening  no  one  in this  crowded  compartment  tried  to  bring  an  end  to this  reckless  eve-teasing  drama. In fact  most  of  them  would  ogle  at  the young  lady for her reaction  ,  then turn  away  their  face  and  smile. No  opposition from  the  public  around  gave the  two   further  impetus  to  continue ;

“Gori  hamse naraz hai, Bhai”( the lady is  cross  with us)  the  first  one unleashed  another  remark at  the  lady.

My blood  boiled  at  these  remarks  but  found   myself  unarmed  and  absolutely helpless to deal with  the situation. By  this  time the  two small  children  of  the  lady  had   also sensed  that  something  is  wrong  and  were  clinging  close  to their  mother.   The  only  hope  which  I  could  sense  was  the  rage  developing  in  the  eyes of the  old  lady  who had  stopped  her   knitting   and seemed  to be  preparing  for  her  foray.

In  the  meantime , the  younger  accomplice  said, “Bahut  garmi hai Ustad  ji” ( its  very  hot  , Boss).

Saying   this  he   unbuttoned  the  top  two buttons  of  his  shirt  and  ,  padded  his  chest  hair and   then loosened  his  belt. This  was  the  most  shameful  and  disgraceful  conduct I  had  ever  seen  . But more  shameful was  the meekness prevalent  in  the  spectators.

At  this  moment  the  train entered  Ambala Cantt  Station. As  if  waiting  for an  opportunity the  old lady sprung to  her  feet and shouted, “Ek  ghante  se  tumhari  bakwaas  sun  rahi  huan main”( I am listening to  your  filth  since  last  one hour)  and unleashed  two  tight  slaps on their  unshaven  faces.

Police ko bulao”(call  the  police) . She  shouted   at  the  meek spectators  who were equally  dumbstruck  as   the  two  rowdy  fellows were  by  the tight   slaps on their faces. It  seemed  to  me  her two slaps  had not  hit only the  two rowdy guy  but also  the  ten male  spectators of  this  drama too. .

“Maine  kay  kiya  hai?”the  elder  rowdy one managed  to  mumble .

In  a  fit of  pique   she  gave  him another  tight  slap  and  said.

 “Who to  police hi batai gi tum dono  ko. in dono   ne  sharab   pi hai”( call the police  these men  are   drunk).

Gathering  some courage  I shouted  at  a  constable  strolling  on the  platform and signalled him to  our  compartment. In  the  meantime both these men sensed trouble  and  tried  to escape  but  the  old  lady  gripped their   wrists  so tight and  only left them  once  the  policemen  arrived. After listening  to the  lady the  policemen gave  both  the  guys  some more  blows  and  took them  to the  railway   police  station.

The  train  soon moved  out of the  station but the  fury of  the   lady  did  not subside. Standing akimbo  she  let  out  at  the  men  sitting around. “sharam aani chahiye  aap sabko apne  aap ko  mard  kahte  hue”( You all  should feel  ashamed   of yourself- you  men) . As  everybody  looked  down  I saluted the Old but Bold  lady silently.

 

*** this  is  the  first hand  narration of  a  eve-teasing  incident to  which the  I  was  a  mute  witness  on  my  maiden  journey at  the  age  of  14

Rly Minister finally made to resign

–HAIL INDIAN POLITICS!!!!

Parochial Party interests must prevail , 

if govt has to sail, 
party superemo twists the tail , 
let the Indian railway de-rail………..

4 – Tier Sleeper Class

I  had  reached  Howrah  from   Mumbai today  morning  on my  way  to  New  Jalpaiguri .  It was  a special occasion as  my  father was   retiring  after  34  years of service  on 31 Mar 1986. I  had  taken five  days  leave from  my  college  hostel  to be  with him on  that  day.  From  Howrah    the  only  train available today was  Kamrup Express  which is a  slow   and  tardy train  known to be always  crowded  beyond  its  capacity. I tried   the  reservation  counters for current reservation  but  had no luck . After roaming  around  the  railway  station  and  having  some  snacks,  I came  and  sat  on a  waiting  bench  on the  platform  from which  the   train  would  leave  in about  two  hours time.

“Do you  have  reservation  in Kamrup Express ” asked  the passenger  sitting besides  me  on the  bench. He  was  a  young man   aged  around  25,  wearing ordinary  looking shirt  and  trousers. Had  a  unshaven  face  and  his  heavily packed  bags  showed  he was a small time  trader who may have  come to Calcutta  to  do purchases.

“No. I  am  waitlisted “ I replied.

“ Do  you have a  seat?” I asked in return.

“No,  but  if  you  have  some money  I  will  manage  a  ground-floor  berth in the train. Some  of  my  friends   like  me  are  frequent  travellers  so we  help  each other. ” He  said.

“”Fine , but how  much would that   cost ? I asked.  Being  a  college  student  I  generally  had  limited money.

“just Rs 20 extra” He said.

Rs 20  was  not  much for a  lower  berth in a  perennially crowed  train, I  thought  . But  how  will  he  manage? Though I had  paid  Rs  80 for the  ticket, Rs  20 for  the  seat  and  that  too  lower  berth was  peanuts, I  thought.

“Do you know  some  TTE  here, because  I  have  tried  everywhere   and nobody is  ready to  help” I said.

“No  need  for TTEs , you  just  see. We  just  need  to  take  care  of  each other’s   luggage  while  I  will  trace  out  my  friends.” said  my  confident  friend.

I  agreed  . I had  little  choice . It was  a  14 hour  haul that too by  a  slow  train which is  generally   full  till  the  brim and   here  someone  was  promising a  berth  for Rs  20  was certainly  worth giving a  try.

The train arrived and as expected  and  there  was  total  chaos  for the  next  15-20  minutes on the platform. Reserved  and   unreserved  compartments  both  got   jam packed instantly . There  were   people  sitting everywhere. Standing   even  in  the  aisle  and  between  the  seats too. We  both  boarded  some  compartment  and  could  not  get  an  inch to sit  down. I  was finding it  even difficult  to  breathe.  Some  one in the cabin  was  carrying  a basket  of  fresh fish  and the  whole  coach  was  smelling like  Sassoon Docks  of Mumbai.

The train slowly  moved out of Howrah station,  and  through  some open window  I  caught  some gush of fresh air to  breathe.  After  some  time  we  tried  to  push  some people  around  and  created  little  more  space  to  stand  properly  between  the  cabin  seats  and  the  side-seats. I  looked  up  if  any  of the   upper  seats  were  empty. But  got a  dirty  gaze  from from people  sitting  there  as  if  they were  saying  “how  dare , don’t  even look  here” So I looked  down.

After  some  time , I looked  at  my  confident  friend  as   if to  ask him what was  his  plan?

He nodded  and said,  “Hmm, you look  after my these  two  bags   and I  will  search for  my  friends”

“Ok , but  lets  keep  them somewhere or  else people  will  step  on them on their way to toilets” I  said.

“Who is  going to toilets? Firstly ,toilets  are  full   with people and their  luggage and  the fish  baskets  and  secondly whoever goes  to  toilets loses  his  seat. So  don’t  worry and  stand  here” he  said.

“ What !  I  can’t  go to toilets  till  morning? OMG, I should  have  relieved myself at the station only.”I  said.

“Is  this  the  first time  you  are  travelling  without reservation. ?  He asked  giving  me a  dirty  look.

“Yes “ , I  said  curtly and  he  looked  the  other side.

“Ok , now  don’t  worry , stand  here  till  I  come back , then I  will try  and  manage  to make  you  get  down  at some  place  when  train  stops  in the  wilderness.” He  said

“Ok, I said.  My  confident  friend  was  smart  also.

So I  muted  all  my  apertures  till  the  time  my  confident  friend comes back from  his  reconnaissance .

I  stood  there  looking  around  . This coach  with   a capacity  of  72  had more  then  150 people in it. All  side upper seats    had  three  people  sitting  and  lower berths had 4-  5  passengers  cramped  filling  every inch of  the  berth.  It  was  more then  two  hours   and  there  was  no  TTE  to  be  seen. I  was  thinking  what  can any  poor  TTE  do  in  this  scenario. He  would  soon   be outnumbered  and  thrown out. This  was  a  reserved  compartment S-2.

I  waited  for my  confident  friend to  come  back . It  was   around  8 PM now.

After  some  minutes  my  friend  appeared   beaming  with some  more  confidence.

“Chalo” He  commanded me.

“where?” I Asked.

“ Next  compartment, five  of  my friends  are  there.”He said.

“So you don’t have  to  pay anything  now”.I asked.

“ Why , they  will  give  us  their seats  for  free? Quickly  give  me  the  money”. He  scolded me.

“Ok , here  take of my share Rs 20” I said taking  out  the  note which I had kept  in  my  pocket.

Jumping  over  luggage  and  pushing people  we  reached  the  other  compartment S-3. Enroute I crossed  the  toilets  and realised my friend was right. With door ajar I could see they were dumped with luggage.

When we  reached  the  place  where  my confident  friend’s  friends were  sitting  I was  shell shocked. This  place too was   as  crowded  as  the previous one   and there was no lower  seat vacant for  us. We  stood  there  with luggage. There  were four   each on  each  seat already  sitting there. I  looked at  my  friend  who was  also  standing  and  talking  in  a  friendly  tone  to them. Just  then   the  train  slowed down and   we  could  hear  that  there  was a  platform. My  confident friend  asked  his  friends  that  he  will go  and  get dinner  for   them  as  it  was  the   dinner  time.

I  asked   my  friend  if  I  could  come  along  as  I  needed  desperately  to relieve  myself. We  went  out jumping  over  people  who had already started  dozing  sitting on the  floor  of  the  train itself. This  was  indeed  my  first experience  of  a travel  without  reservation.

When  we  were  out  I asked  my  friend  about  the  seat. He  said  “first  I  have  to  give  them  Dinner  then  they  will give  us  place”. I  had my  doubts about  this  arrangement  but  then my  friend  was  very  sure  that  they  have  two  seats  under  them   and  they  cannot  give  it   to anyone else but  us.

So in 40   rupees  we  brought   puri-sabji  for  all of his  friends. They  ate  gloriously  while  I  watched  them . By now  I had  been standing   for  four  hours  at   a  stretch and  legs  were  aching and  I  needed  to  just  sit  and  I  would  sleep.

After  they  finished my confident  friend started  telling them   that  it  is  quiet  late  and  they  should  also lay  their  beds. The six  of  them who  had  their berths   got up  to go to  their  berths  and  the  other  two  just  tried  to  lie  down between the  seats. Suddenly I  found  my  confident  friend spring into action . He just  brushed  them  aside   telling them that we   eight  are  together  and this is  our  place.  He  literally  pulled them out  and  threw in our  luggage . He then called  me in and  we  sat on  the floor between the seats. For a minute  my  legs got   a  sigh  of  relief.

Then  what  I saw  was even   more horrifying. Confident  friend  took  out  the  newspaper from his  bag   and  opened  the  pages very  deftly. He started  spreading the paper  under the  lower berth in  the place  meant  for  luggage.  I was   awestruck  at   this  action. He then  lay  down flat  and  slowly  rolled over  under  that  lower berth . He Looked at  me and  smiled as  if he  has  achieved  the  bliss. He  passed the  balance of the  newspaper  towards me.  I kept it aside and gave  him  a dirty  look. He turned his  face to  the  other  side  and  within  minutes   he  was  snoring in his 4th tier sleeper.

I kept  looking  around but  felt  very  creepy at  sleeping under  the lower  berth . It  sounded   like  what  I  read  about  the  jews  being  treated in  the nazi  camps.  No I can’t .  I  rather stay awake sitting here. I had  a place to sit at least.  Cabin lights  were  now  off.  And it was well   past midnight. The train  was  moving  slowly and halting after  every 20-30 minutes. There  was  silence everywhere . My  body  was  aching and  I  needed  to  lie down for   it was  almost  48  hours  that  I  had  left  the confines  of  my  comfortable hostel  room.  My  eyes  were  also drowsy. I quietly searched  for the   newspaper  and spread  it  under  the other  lower  berth and  rolled  over  to  the  place  under  the  lower  berth. My  body felt  relieved   on getting adequate   space  to stretch.

Brilliant  idea  my  friend.

The  last  thought  which came  to  my  mind   before  I  dozed off   was  I  hope  the  person  sleeping above  me  does not  have a  bad  stomach.

 

Can You Stop The Gushing Stream?

This  is  my  second  book.

It was  released  in 2011

‘You Can’t punch with a Thumb’

 by Lt. Col.  Mohinder Pal Singh is an exhaustive guide of simple ways of effective team work and team building. The book  published by ‘Wisdom Tree’ is an attractive Laminated Colourful paperback containing 121 pages and worth Rs. 145/-.  Author’s experience falls into words and converts the hands-on-practise mantra to hands-on-book.  The much needed qualities and values of synergy, cohesiveness as well as co-existence form the basis of team work and team- spirit. It forms a building block for the novice of the present day and the anatomy of the MNC world. He attempts a through booting of an infrastructure, expects such output of men that excel.

The book abounds with real life experiences as the author is part of the armed forces. Since author’s childhood, he was very closely associated with the functioning of highly effective structured teams. Due to his involvement with the teams at various levels- as team member, as leader of small teams before graduating to leading large teams and at times under very difficult and trying situations. His exposure made him conversant with ground realities of power of interdependence in team work. It’s like ‘either we survive together or we have to die together’ Choice is our’s.

Few of the conclusions drawn by the author are:

1.  If you don’t stand for something, you will surely fall for anything.

2.  The Future belongs to those who possibilities before they become obvious.

3.  We should behave with our friends, as we would wish our friends to behave with us.

4.  Tough time do not last forever, tough men do.

5.   In an ideal teamwork, we have to start looking much beyond our self-interest.

6.   ‘Winners don’t do things alone; they do it in a team.

Thus this book ‘you can’t punch with a thumb’ is an excellent reading and learning material for all of us as our future lies in effective team work.

Review  Written By Ms Neelam Pannu, Lecturer at Kendriya Vidyalaya.

“We want to see life”

When  I  was  in Delhi  , I  would  daily  go in the  evening  for  a  walk  in  the nearby  park.  There  I would  find  some  old people  just  sitting on  the  benches  from  4 PM  and  till  it became  dark. The  park  had  young infants  playing  with their  mothers/ maids,  young  and  middle  aged people  doing brisk walking in  order  to  loose  some fatty tissues, young  boys  doting some classmates  and   young  girls   strolling  whispering into mobiles  glued  to  their  ears . Amidst  this  bundle  of activity were  these quiet  , well composed  spectators  who had  no  phones  glued  to  their  ears , who  were  not  doting , who could  not  walk much and  yet  they seemed  to  enjoy  watching these  three  hours  of torment  activity  in  the  park. At the  turn  of  darkness slowly each  one   would wriggle  to their  respective  four  walls  of their homes, to be  there in  the  park  next day same time same  way.

One  day  I happen to  recognise one  old  man  sitting  there as a   colleague of  my father and  I said  “Hello Uncle, I  am son  of  ………. I  think  you  and  my  father  had  served  together somewhere”

“Oh  yes, my son , I  remember him. And  you were  such a  tiny  kid  then” He said  while  indicating  me  to  sit  next  to  him. For  the next  ten  minutes  it was  his  turn  to  remember  the  old  times . He  said  he  is  81  year old  now   and  both  his  children are  settled  in  USA.

When I  got  a  break I  shot  my  question  which  was  bugging  me  for  a  long  time at  him,

“Sir,  why do so many  elder people  just  come  from  their homes and  sit  here  for three  hours  watching  people. Would  they  not  like to  spend  time  seeing TV or read  or  do something else”. I  intoned  my long  awaited  question.

He thought  for  a  moment,  started  to  say something but halted . The  question  seemed  to have  foxed him. It  was an  analytical  question. The  answer had  to  equally  intelligent   too. His 37 years  of  speckless  service in Army behind him his  answer  had  to  befit his  age  and  experience.

“We  come  here  to  see  life. In  every blossoming   flower I  see  so many  colours  of  nature. In  every bud I see  the  emergence  of  new life , a  new  innings. In  every  leaf, I see   the strength  to cling to  its twig. In every   infant playing   here I  see a new  bloom of  life. In  every action of a young child , I  see  innocence of  God, truthfulness. In every  youth, I  see the unfathomed cosmic energy . In every adult  I see the  vagaries  of  life  he  has  gone  through. So , I  come here  every day  to  refresh my  memories   of  what all  stages  of life  I  have  gone  through. If  I  stay  at  home  I  will  only  see  the old  age. And there is nothing to   learn   from   old   age alone.  The   essence   of  learning lies in learning  at every stage  of  life .  For  people  like  us  who didn’t  do it then, now  is  the  time  to introspect. Learn   and   unlearn so many   mistakes  of   our   lives.   What we  did  right  and  what   we  did  wrong  at  every stage  in  our life goes  in  our  mind  like  a  re-winding of a movie.  We try and  re-live  every stage  of  our  lives  seeing ourselves  as  a  the  young child , young adult  and  then a full adult. These are   the learnings  which  I  carry everyday  from  this  park, my  son.” Saying this  he  adjusted  his spectacles   to  wipe  the  moistness  of  his  eyes. I could  make  out the  heavy load of  sweet and  sour memories   every old  person carries  with him.

As  I  got up to leave I bowed  down to  touch  his  feet  but instead  he  pulled  me  up and hugged. Next day onwards ten  minutes  of  my park  time  was  devoted  to  him everyday.

“We want to see life”

When  I  was  in Delhi  , I  would  daily  go in the  evening  for  a  walk  in  the nearby  park.  There  I would  find  some  old people  just  sitting on  the  benches  from  4 PM  and  till  it became  dark. The  park  had  young infants  playing  with their  mothers/ maids,  young  and  middle  aged people  doing brisk walking in  order  to  loose  some fatty tissues, young  boys  doting some classmates  and   young  girls   strolling  whispering into mobiles  glued  to  their  ears . Amidst  this  bundle  of activity were  these quiet  , well composed  spectators  who had  no  phones  glued  to  their  ears , who  were  not  doting , who could  not  walk much and  yet  they seemed  to  enjoy  watching these  three  hours  of torment  activity  in  the  park. At the  turn  of  darkness slowly each  one   would wriggle  to their  respective  four  walls  of their homes, to be  there in  the  park  next day same time same  way.

One  day  I happen to  recognise one  old  man  sitting  there as a   colleague of  my father and  I said  “Hello Uncle, I  am son  of  ………. I  think  you  and  my  father  had  served  together somewhere”

“Oh  yes, my son , I  remember him. And  you were  such a  tiny  kid  then” He said  while  indicating  me  to  sit  next  to  him. For  the next  ten  minutes  it was  his  turn  to  remember  the  old  times . He  said  he  is  81  year old  now   and  both  his  children are  settled  in  USA.

When I  got  a  break I  shot  my  question  which  was  bugging  me  for  a  long  time at  him,

“Sir,  why do so many  elder people  just  come  from  their homes and  sit  here  for three  hours  watching  people. Would  they  not  like to  spend  time  seeing TV or read  or  do something else”. I  intoned  my long  awaited  question.

He thought  for  a  moment,  started  to  say something but halted . The  question  seemed  to have  foxed him. It  was an  analytical  question. The  answer had  to  equally  intelligent   too. His 37 years  of  speckless  service in Army behind him his  answer  had  to  befit his  age  and  experience.

“We  come  here  to  see  life. In  every blossoming   flower I  see  so many  colours  of  nature. In  every bud I see  the  emergence  of  new life , a  new  innings. In  every  leaf, I see   the strength  to cling to  its twig. In every   infant playing   here I  see a new  bloom of  life. In  every action of a young child , I  see  innocence of  God, truthfulness. In every  youth, I  see the unfathomed cosmic energy . In every adult  I see the  vagaries  of  life  he  has  gone  through. So , I  come here  every day  to  refresh my  memories   of  what all  stages  of life  I  have  gone  through. If  I  stay  at  home  I  will  only  see  the old  age. And there is nothing to   learn   from   old   age alone.  The   essence   of  learning lies in learning  at every stage  of  life .  For  people  like  us  who didn’t  do it then, now  is  the  time  to introspect. Learn   and   unlearn so many   mistakes  of   our   lives.   What we  did  right  and  what   we  did  wrong  at  every stage  in  our life goes  in  our  mind  like  a  re-winding of a movie.  We try and  re-live  every stage  of  our  lives  seeing ourselves  as  a  the  young child , young adult  and  then a full adult. These are   the learnings  which  I  carry everyday  from  this  park, my  son.” Saying this  he  adjusted  his spectacles   to  wipe  the  moistness  of  his  eyes. I could  make  out the  heavy load of  sweet and  sour memories   every old  person carries  with him.

As  I  got up to leave I bowed  down to  touch  his  feet  but instead  he  pulled  me  up and hugged. Next day onwards ten  minutes  of  my park  time  was  devoted  to  him everyday.