Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER

It was the summer of 2006. The gruesome “first month” of SCA2K5 batch had just got over and the season of entries to various erstwhile inaccessible amenities had set in. In a series of coveted entries to numerous sporting arenas of the hallowed Gymkhana, the treasures of Gym were slowly being opened to the ‘Special 13’ brave lads. Smile had begun to return to the mauled faces which, after the month long assault, were even more charged with indomitable courage to take anything and everything in their long strides. The pages of long-lived traditions were getting unfurled slowly and with each passing day, 2K5 and Gym were inching closer. The foundation for an eternal relationship had been well-laid.
It was one fateful, or rather ill-fated evening of that summer when the “visit to the graveyard” was planned. After the evening sports and the countless rounds in the twilight, the batch was ‘cooling off’ on the ET with ample refreshments in the form of dozens of bananas, eggs and cheese-cubes for each of the studs. The batch senior was asked if he could go to the graveyard at midnight alone. With a long banana adjusted in his mouth, his confused face replied, “the first month got over, didn’t it?” and the sound came “Yes”. After some dares challenging their manhood, the batch soon roared a big “Yes” for the trip, which was to be the experience of their lifetime.
It was a happy coincidence that Gym then had ‘seniors’ from 98E, 99, 2K, 2K1 and 2K3 batches all present. Few members 98E and 99 were there on some course after their probation, 2K was in probation and 2K1 was about to pass-out. With lots of seniors present and guidance aplenty, preparations for the trip went on high. Within minutes, the adventure freaks assembled and ideas poured in to make it a memorable night for the fatigued firstees. It was then that three of them got into some serious ghostly business. The adventure stalwarts (a present DM, a Hyundai tycoon and yours truly) arranged some props to ensure the forlorn firstees had nothing to fear in their life after that scary night at graveyard.
Soon after dinner, the three of us secretly receded to the graveyard while other seniors thickened the air around with horror for the already horrified yet contending 2K5. They were to begin from Gym at 2255 hrs (2355 hrs actually). Almost all senior fellows present were to escort them, with hockey-sticks, golf-clubs and three-cell long torches in their hands. In the dead of the night, the expedition began. Horrified firstees putting their brave faces on along with reassuring seniors as escorts, a group of around 40 people set off for the graveyard, which lied between the hills and the Gym. Only a couple of the senior fellows knew our secret plan, which was to reveal itself at the opportune moment, only after the firstees had frozen with horror.
            One of us was to hang upside down from a tree, the other was to roam from grave to grave in a white cloak and sob aloud and I was to lie between two graves wrapped in a white shroud. A white bed-spread was cut round at the centre to make the cloak. Ropes were hung from the tree, which were to oscillate along with the hanging ghost, the senior most of the three and the team leader. We had strategically positioned ourselves, each ghost around 20 feet apart, one on the tree, another jumping from grave to grave in the hindsight and the third lying and turning between two graves. The escorting senior, a SrCDO now, was given the signal of our readiness. And we waited for our prey.
Soon, we could see the large group slowly toddling towards us. The grill at the gate of graveyard remained locked and the group was supposed to jump over the four feet high wall to get inside. Then, each member of the 2K5 batch was supposed to walk to the tree alone and pluck a leaf from there. It was the same tree which had several ropes hanging along with a hanging ghost. With no moon light above us, the flashing torches indicated that they were now close to the gate. We could overhear instructions about the minimum size of leaf to be plucked from the tree.
At that very moment, an intense light showed at the gate. It was the headlight of a four wheeler which slowly cruised with its humming engine. WTF. It was a police patrol jeep. While I laid still, the jumping white ghost and the hanging one lurked behind the tree. The police was now making loud noises asking those fellows with hockey-sticks and golf-clubs the purpose of the late night loiter. My heart sank. It was the worst nightmare. The ghost prank had backfired. The negotiation took a few odd minutes, after which the policemen said, “this was not expected from the creams of the country”.
The worst was yet to happen. The senior escorting member called on the cellphone of the hanging ghost asking us to come out, as the plan had already ended in a fiasco. The police as well as the firstees saw us rising from the graves and falling from the tree, with their jaws wide open in utter disbelief. Even those senior escorts not knowing our plan looked bewildered. All three of us, along with our ghostly paraphernalia jumped out of the wall and joined the group with our hands up. With my face down, I could only sense the stunning silence. The policemen too were speechless. The surprises were too much to handle for all of us.
With sullen looks on our faces, we trolled back to Gym. The firstees really had a terrifyingly good time and the clandestine smirks on their faces were evidently obvious. We all had lived through a nightmare.
For me, that dark debacle still refuses to recede into oblivion. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

'KILLROACH'

Of all animals, the least accommodating are the human beings. The fact needs no testimony; however, it got verified once again last month by the project KILLROACH.

It was the special day meant to mark freedom. Having celebrated the 65th anniversary of India’s freedom, I proceeded to my resthouse with the view of taking rest in the day’s second half. After all, it was supposed to be a national holiday. I hadn’t even finished my lunch when I picked the call from my SrDME. He seemed quite disturbed. I got to know that a serious complain had been made with the Chairman, Railway Board about the presence of pests in the AC coach of Capital Express. The extent of terror in my boss’ voice said aloud that we had run into some serious trouble. I tried to pacify him assuring that all efforts shall be made from our end and things will be alright. May be, he had got his worst ever rebuke along with some serious threats of transfer to some unknown place.

In bureaucracy, as in any hierarchical system, there are two kinds of admonishment or ‘fire’ , the latter being the more popular name of the phenomenon- one, which is initiated by you at your rung and goes down and the other one, which trickles down from the top rungs. The first one shows your involvement and dedication. It’s effectiveness is a measure of your efficiency. Contrarily, the other one is bound to produce results, that too, in proportion to the height from which it has started trickling. In this case, it had started from the pyramid’s zenith. I later came to know, that a copy of the complain letter was sent to the Minister of Railways too. The CRB had to hear a lot. He passed the dose along with added spices to the GM of my zone. Next in the line was my CME who had to undergo hours of classes by the honorable GM. In a typical setup in which you are doomed if your boss has to hear for your mistake, this was really grievous. After all, the senior-most man of Railways had to hear because of me, an officer on the junior-most rung. I could only wait for the ensuing nightmares.

As the train was mine, being maintained at my depot, the onus too had to be mine. It really took me some time to analyze what had actually happened. There had been complaints before too, but this one was special. The aggrieved party happened to be a very senior IAS officer. A small cockroach, which had been very well nestled in the grooves of AC 2 tier coach of Capital Express, went a bit too far for the after dinner stroll. Or as suggested by many learned friends, it must have been a tussle with his wife that had pushed him so far. The dude, in a bid to explore the unexplained, finally landed inside the ear of the wife of the Chairman of Human Rights Commission. The one responsible for defending the rights of every human, had been robbed of his own rights for safe and happy journey. He had paid to gain the right and thus now had every right to reclaim the damages. And who else knew the way better. It was like giving murder threats to the wife of Yamraj. Further, had the gallant dude entered the ear of the man, things would not have been that worse. It was now a question of pride for him. A bit of inaction now, and he would have lost all his glory earned till date.

The man did his best. He took his wife to the emergency ward of PMCH, called for the ENT specialist at 0500 AM, and while the offender was being extracted, he called the CRB. Later, he wrote a two page letter, most of which was in past indefinite tense, studded with many ‘if’s and ‘had it’s and attached the hospital slip. The letter demanded proper disciplinary action against the culprit and adequate compensation for the mental trauma his family had to face during the journey. I am sure the lady must have had a big heart, otherwise he would have lodged a court case.

The ‘action taken’ part had begun just after the information reached. The job of pest control had been outsourced in my depot and the contract was about to end in the same month. The firm, a renowned government agency, had been heavily fined by me in the past and hence was in no mood to participate in the next tender. In the wake of the things, it was decided to launch a special drive to kill the cockroaches departmentally. Officers from headquarter were allotted different rakes in which different chemicals were to be sprayed in their presence. The Coaching Depot Officer, which happened to be me, had to get all this done. After some internet based research to find most effective cockroach killing chemical, I along with my SrDME spent the whole evening of Independence Day in the wholesale markets of Patna finding the most suitable chemicals. Next morning onwards, the crusade was launched.

The chemicals were sprayed in double the recommended concentration. Every nook and corner was drenched fully. To monitor the effectiveness of the drive, all the killed cockroaches were accumulated and a coach-wise status along with the pictures of the decimated bodies, was sent to headquarter for every coach of every rake. The operation which continued till the calendar showed September, started at 5 in the morning daily and continued till late evening. To add to the nightmare, several senior officers came to inspect the rakes at different hours of the clock. The long hours of haul over the coals which CME had to go through, ensured that I was on my toes for the whole period. During the next fifteen days, several experiments were carried out to annihilate the little demon. Eight different chemicals ranging from propoxur to dichlorovos were used in heavy concentrations. Various pastes, tablets and boiling water were used too. The treatment frequency was made ‘every trip’ from the erstwhile ‘fortnightly’. The steel floors were opened out and the trough underneath was treated intensively. Even the undergear was not spared.

Keeping in view the hazardous nature of the job, I rotated the guys carrying the spray guns. The medically approved masks too had their limits. I had no replacement for myself though. All other important works were thrown aside both by the headquarter and the division. Everyone in the department had just one objective- to kill the cockroaches. As the days passed, the madness turned into frustration which found vent in the force with which the escaping cockroaches were thrashed by the boots. The religious ones keeping roja and other fasts too could not restrain themselves. A positive effect visible was that even the illiterate staff now talked like “1 in 15 solution of 20% EC cypermethrin has been used in WGACCN 00127”. The drive finally ended after consuming hell lot of efforts and money. Thousands of cockroaches were killed everyday, the number decreasing with passing days. The infestation level was fairly controlled as the little demon disappeared slowly.

Only for the time being. With every coach replacement in the rake, the devil returned, only to prove that it’s not easy to erase one’s existence. Though several thousands of them got killed, who won the battle is yet to be answered. Ironically, the fact remains that the probability of another complain has been attenuated but it still is not zero. The Humans could not win over the species albeit human rights did win over the cockroach rights. Didn’t it?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

THE TRUTH PREVAILS

This post comes as a sequel to the earlier one. Hence, for better comprehension, please go through the post titled “THE ONLY TRUTH”.

It was near midnight when I had started penning down the previous post. And by the time it was finally posted, the sun had crossed the horizon of International Date Line, changing the date to 3rd August 2011. The date has been an important one in my life for reasons galore. It was around 0100 hrs that I finally went to sleep. I was awakened in the morning by my ringing phone. Half asleep, I picked the call from my ‘home’. The next moment, all my consciousness sprung back when my dad told me about the death of my ailing brother-in-law. The burns had got the better of him.

I rushed to the hospital and while on way, informed my senior officials about my unavailability and briefed my subordinates regarding the important tasks of the day. Once inside the hospital, the similar scenes came before my eyes, the only difference being, I could relate to the ‘hopeless ones’ in a better way this time. I hurried to the emergency ward. While crossing the aisle, the pungent odor of dried blood and hospital refuge did irk my olfactory nerves, but now it somehow felt more agreeable. I reached his bed and found him lying in the same fashion I had seen him a few days back. The bandages looked the same as did his limbs. The swell in the neck had alleviated. The eyes had been closed. The breathing had stopped. Nothing else had changed.

My dad, mom, bhaiya, mamaji had all reached before me. My sister who had been crying on my mom’s shoulders started wailing aloud when she looked at me. She then hung on to my shoulders as I tried to console her. She had been devastated. Her in-laws were not there as they had returned to their village for taking a break the previous night. The kid was still there but was not very sure about the happenings. Maybe, he was still trying to assimilate the cause for this weeping business. Leaving them to my mom, I moved to the outer porch where the male members stood in clusters. While one group was trying to put pressure on the deceased’s employer for adequate compensation, the other one was busy arranging the formalities of the hospital.

I went to the first group which had two of my cousins and a few more acquaintances nabbing the employer for higher compensation. The fight for life had transformed into fight for money in a matter of hours. Both parties reached a compromise after about half an hour of heated arguments and counter-arguments. Meanwhile, the other group had zeroed on to nothing as the police officials responsible for writing reports before post-mortem had not yet arrived. It was only after 9 AM that the Sub-inspector came along with two other policemen. The shift changed at 0800 hrs, but the team signing off had left at around 6 AM, said another guy who had been waiting for the post-mortem of his relative since morning. We were third in the list.

Upon inquiry, one of the policemen said that the post-mortem form had to be purchased from the autopsy building which housed the department of forensic sciences. Two members rushed to get the form. They came back in half an hour, after they had paid the demanded commission for the supposedly out-of-stock forms. Another policeman came to us asking who would be giving the statement. He then took the deceased’s father who had arrived by then, to a corner and explained something in his ears. Later I came to know, it was a bid to explain him the complicacies that could arise if his demands weren’t met. I was taken aback. So were rest all members who had not seen the post-mortem process hitherto. The more experienced ones finally framed a statement. The sub-inspector after completing the report of two deaths went for a stroll rubbing tobacco on his left palm. This also was a bid to ensure their commission. I tried to stop him but to no avail, as this was his regular job. Incidentally, the MLA of the region was also there to visit his acquaintance and upon information, he also spoke to the policemen but it was only after another half an hour that the sub-inspector returned.

It took another hour to get the report lodged as the inspector kept asking so-called pertinent questions of which one was the clothes worn at the time of death. Feigning dissatisfaction at the reply, he asked us to go and get it confirmed by the people in the mortuary where the body had been locked. The in-charge there said the man with the keys had gone for tea. He opened the lock only after taking a hundred rupee note. The first part of the post-mortem thus got completed in three hours and after spending around thousand bucks.

The actual process of post-mortem took another couple of hours. This period at the hospital normally ranged from an hour to a few days depending upon the amount of bribe paid to each and every fellow of the department. The doctors changed the murders to normal deaths to get money. They even threatened the bereaved family members that they would change the normal deaths to murders unless they were paid adequately. The operated bodies would be returned without stitching back unless due share of every fellow was paid. Even the men with keys of lockers wouldn’t give the bodies unless they had money for chai-paani. These were tackled properly so as to get the body at the earliest as we were already delayed and the body had to be taken to village for the last rites.

Lastly, the ambulance-drivers put up their show refusing to cross the Ganga-bridge for Hajipur giving excuses of long distance and jams. One finally agreed at triple the normal fare. We moved out of the hospital at around 4 PM finally and reached the village rahimapur at around 5:30 PM only to be greeted by a hell lot of cries and wails. The ladies lost their well-preserved patience at the sight of the body.

Amidst all the cries, I felt an itch deep within. The death was a colossal loss for all of us, but we would soon get over with it, as happens with every death. These tears would dry in a matter of days or months at max. But how would the system escape its death. That day, my hopes for a corruption free India had a fatal jolt. I had seen people hailing Anna and still taking bribes at the DRM’s office. But extolling money from a grief-stricken family which had just lost a young earning member could not sound worse. One Lokpal cannot curtail corruption by 65 percent, nor can the supports to Anna on facebook.

As of now, I plan to raise the issue to the so-called reformer CM with the help of media, but I am not sure of the results. The panacea lies in reforming ourselves. The worm has percolated to the deepest layers and relates to the greed in the far nooks of the conscience of every individual. These suckers who suck money out of dead bodies are also one of us. Unless the worm gets weeded out of everyone of us, including that mortuary keyman, the struggle to free India of corruption would remain a lame one.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

THE ONLY TRUTH

Life has a natural tendency to revert back to normalcy everytime some powerful wave jostles it. With increasing number of blows along with the flowing time, the “excitement” dwindles down. Or rather, the blows become a routine and the number of things that make us feel alive decreases. And so life becomes mundane and we, the pragmatic ones, call the phenomenon “maturity”.

To feel alive, one needs to react to every change, soft or harsh, pleasing or repulsive, expected or unexpected. Mature people take things in their stride or to put it differently, things hardly affect them. But somewhere deep inside them, this ‘urge to react’, ‘the will to feel alive’ dies. The outcome can very well be positive as it can be negative. They think rationally, without being moved and decide the best deed in any situation. But the will to act also needs a slight push deep within, and that’s where a little bit of emotions help.

Incidentally, I happened to come across something peculiar a few days back which made my “mature heart” feel again. The inverted commas should not be confused as an intended self-praise though. It was a few hours spent in the general ward of PMCH, the only hope for the cashless destitute of the state. I had been to the hospital earlier too when I was a child and had been sad even then. And since then, I have been to several hospitals in several roles. I have been a patient, his attendant, his relative, his distant acquaintance, his boss and what not. These stints in the ambulances, emergency of private clinics, OPDs of government hospitals, ICUs of sophisticated homeo homes had made me resistant to the foul smell of medicines, phenyl and human discharges. I felt assured of my patience and maturity to deal with the exigent maladies and their cure.

Only till that day. The extremes of my perceptions were pushed a lot further with that experience. It was last Sunday. I had taken off for the day and stayed at home, with my family members. One of my uncle was admitted in ‘Hathwa’ ward of PMCH since a week. The sugar levels in his veins were playing see-saw, scaling the count from 35 to 510 and back within hours. Among the various repercussions, the most annoying was a hemorrhage. My mom and dad had been visiting the uncle’s family staying in the ward daily, carrying their lunch along with them. The previous night, another sad news came that one of my brother –in-law got an electric shock and was brought to emergency ward of PMCH from the suburbs of Hajipur. My dad returned home at 3 AM along with the ailing cousin sister, only after the poor fellow got the primary dressing. In the morning I was given the task to carry the lunches as I was home, for a change. My sister who wept all night, woke me up insisting that I should take her along.

For the uninitiated ones, PMCH stands for Patna Medical College and Hospital. With around 1500 beds, it is unarguably the biggest government hospital in Bihar and has the best doctors of the region. The various departments have separate buildings spread across a wide campus. And on the sides of the roads, lie poor ailing patients who have been rejected as “hopeless cases”. A few of these hopeless cases leave the campus everyday for their heavenly abode, the only way to oust them. The hearse keeps roaming around picking bodies while the weeping family members run behind as if they forgot to bid the last goodbye. In many of the cases, the family members are not there as they already bid their last goodbye even before the poor fellow breathed his last. These lone crusaders, while alive, are taken care of by the big-hearted rickshaw pullers who seldom throw blackened bananas at them. Those who are physically more able, occupy the area where the garbage is collected before final dispatch through trucks owned by some benevolent trusts. This ensures adequate, if not proper, food supply. Like the garbage, the bodies are also cleaned by the government –owned hearses. And thus, the hospital works, keeping alive the hopes of thousands who outnumber the “hopeless” ones. Like it’s said, hope is a good thing and good things never die.

I reached the hospital along with my sister and her 4 year old son, carrying food in both my hands for the two families. While walking to the emergency ward, I saw many grief-stricken poor families on the sides of the pathway, which looked at the bags in my hand with yearning eyes. As I passed through them, the ‘hope’ in their eyes faded to dismal normalcy. The emergency ward had an aisle of around 200 feet with pockets on both sides each filled with around a dozen beds and squirming relatives. Sobs, tears, cries and screams filled the air. I mused if the most patient one among the crowd were the patients themselves or was it their malady which had arrested the outburst. We crossed the stinking aisle and reached the last pocket, where my brother-in-law was lying on one of the twelve beds on a side. The space was nearly the same as my room at my hostel, the difference being the fact that it somehow accommodated a dozen patients and attendants double that figure.

A look at him and I was taken aback. Not that I hadn’t seen badly bruised and mutilated bodies hitherto. The last time when the ARME was called for, I was part of the team which attended the passengers of the ill-fated marriage party bus which was dragged by more than a kilometer by a speedy train. For twelve of them, the journey proved to be there last. Four of them died while being moved out of the entangled bus while the rest twenty-seven were saved. I wasn’t moved a bit then. But this was different. The man had got the shock of 11000 volts, while working on an electric pole. Both his hands, from the fingers to the shoulders and both his legs right upto the hips had been burnt badly. The whitish flesh popped out, defying the bandage. He was constantly looking at the ceiling, as the fall from the pole had broken his neck. Apart from the face, the whole body had lost sensation and was stretched in a strange fashion. The high voltage threw him off the pole after burning his limbs. I had seen people getting shocks and even had it myself, but those were from 220 volts supply. This was awfully different. I remembered our last meeting in my brother’s marriage when we dined in the same pattal. During my school days, I had befriended electrons. Not anymore. I was little aware that the small electrons could bring such colossal changes.

He saw me and I could see he was trying to greet me. I fumbled for a response. All I could muster was a reassuring look in return. I touched his swollen neck and asked if he felt the touch. With mumbled words, he replied affirmatively, though I could see the swell was larger than the largest goitre. I looked around and saw his mother sitting beside the bed on the floor, sobbing continuously. My sister joined her while the kid kept looking at his dad with asking eyes. Things were beyond his perceptive abilities. There were three other guys including a cousin of mine, discussing the medicines that the nurse had just ordered. The case was to be dealt by three departments, plastic surgery and burns, orthopedics and neurology. My brother and I met the ortho doctor who confirmed the fractures. We consulted the neurologist too who said that nothing concrete could be said at the moment regarding the sensation. The doctor of burns, the best one in Patna, was yet to come as it was sunday. We came back and stood around the bed which hardly had a space of even one foot. The other patients on the adjoining beds were screaming ‘maai ge’ and every scream was accompanied by an even louder wail by the ladies around. On the other side of the aisle, a stark naked man lied on the floor, rolled in the fetal position. He had no bed, no attendant, no clothes; only wounds all over his paralyzed body with flies to accompany him. Some uncelebrated philanthropist might have brought him there. He crawled in the same position and reached near the dustbin. The next moment, he was eating a rotten banana on the floor with his mouth. He ate the whole of it along with the peels with the help of his beards, as his hands were futile.

I heard the dresser saying some DIG had met with an accident and the doctors on duty had rushed to him. This meant that the patients of emergency ward would have to wait and bear the throes till the DIG’s emergency was solved. The reality of this place shook me. I was brought back to the less real world by my ringing phone. My uncle’s family was waiting for the food to arrive. I looked into the eyes of my brother-in-law again with a gesture suggesting all will be well. He said “don’t worry, if I had to die, I would have died right there; am not going to die now”. He was a real brave man. I bade him goodbye and rushed to the other end of the hospital. I was quite relieved to meet them, as the condition there was much better.

While on my way back, I saw four people carrying a corpse walk past me. I followed quietly while they looked in hurry. I had attended funerals before but this one lacked the usual crowd chanting ‘ram naam satya hai’. May be, the ram naam would become satya once they reached their home for proper funeral. The four words, however, came out of my mouth. The past four hours had convinced me that these four words were the only truth.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Wish it could end in a tie !

It was 27th Feb 2011. A pretty usual day but for the fact that team India was to meet England in a World Cup league match. The way team India had been performing in recent past, it wasn't supposed to be hot clash, especially considering the fact that England had been routed 6-1 in a recently concluded Australian outrage. Even Sidhu said before the start that it was 70:30 in India's favour. Still, being a cricket fan, I thought I would watch every ball of it.

It was Sunday and I decided it would be the first Sunday during my stint at Danapur when I wouldn't be going out to office. At 10 AM, it occurred to me that my driver Santosh would be waiting. I called him and said he was free for the day. He sighed a relief and mentioned something about his ill bua ji. I said "sure, go and take care of her".

Back in the cosy confines of my bed, I fell asleep in no time, following the age old adage "an open line AME should sleep whenever he gets time". It was 2 PM when my cook woke me for lunch. A sumptuous lunch, another century by Sachin, no calls from carriage control, a 300+ total posted by Indian batsmen.... it was going good. In the evening, my colleague AOM called asking for my driver. Upon enquiry, I found Santosh's bua ji had a brain hemorrhage and the whole family was in hospital with her. The name of the ailment struck a dismal chord in a far corner of my mind. I had lost two of my dear ones to this dreadful disease. Assuring him of any help needed, I pressed the end call button and apprised my AOM buddy of my inability to help. Soon, my eyes were glued to the TV screen.

As couple of hours passed, I could sense the lack of luster in the bowling and fielding showed by team India. It was slowly coming up, a defeat I mean. And soon it was pretty much evident. The ball crossed the rope more often than the ads which marked the end of overs. Like a devoted Indian fan, I said a small prayer to God asking him to wake up the bowlers and fielders. And the very next two deliveries sent back the two dudes who were troubling the whole of India. The game digressed from its normal path and headed towards a cliff. Though in the jiff of excitement, I was once reminded of another cliff-hanger, the old lady fighting the fatal hemorrhage - a tied battle. I prayed for her too and prayed again that this prayer be answered too. The match now hanged from the cliff as Shahjad, the number 10 batsman, sent the ball into the air beyond the rope. For a flash of a second, I remembered the match played by Aamir’s team in Lagaan. Was it the revenge of the English?

The match ended finally and it ended in a draw. It was a tie for sure but somehow I felt both the teams had lost it. India had lost it before the 25th over and England lost it in the last ball. Amidst the losses, I felt the difference between a win and a tie was too big.

The doorbell woke me up the next morning at 8 with Santosh at my door. With a bit of discomfort, he blurted out slowly, “Sir, she was fine and stable when I left her at midnight. My brother just called me and said she left us. I need the day’s off.” I just nodded.

The difference between a tie and a defeat was much bigger.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Tide does wait for the moon, time waits for none !!!

Time has its own pace and there's nothing in the world that can alter it. And this uninterrupted pace, fortunately happens to be the best quality of time. With itself, it brings several changes to our lives, is what we all say. But, the truth stays that time is just a witness, a passing witness of every change in our life. Good, bad or ugly, time watches everything, every moment.
This argument will demean the wishes like "have a good time" or for that matter, even a "happy new year". That reminds of the year that just passed away... 2010. Time for some new resolutions, new promises, new objectives. But hold on, wasn't it the same day last year that many new resolutions were vowed. A quick review would tell all of us that not all the resolutions were attained in totality. So, renew the old ones??? Ah, how long will we do that crap thing. Have some new ones???
Don't know why but these new year resolutions don't work for me. When yesterday evening, I tried to recollect my last new year's resolution, I ended fumbling. The retrospection, instead, yielded some useful lessons. It's said you learn from your past. I bet past is the best teacher. But the lesson lies in learning from the past without staying in it. And with itself, time teaches us a lot.
To retrospect 2010, it wouldn't be said as a nice year in terms of the amount of joy and happiness it had for me. But in terms of lessons, I am a much learned man now, thanks to 2010. A dialogue in a recently released movie went "whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger". How true! Its like you become stronger every passing day, with more and more experience added to your quiver. If they are pleasant, jolly good; if they are pungent, you have grown resistant to another foul odour.
2010 was really not pleasant. On the very first day of the year, my whole batch was fighting hard the disgrace of failing in our probationary training. Consequent 10 days were the toughest we ever had in our training period. Soon after, the sweet little cosy batch was dispersed across the length and breadth of the country. The initial period in field did feel hectic. And since then, its been a brutal butchery that has been inflicted upon. Ofcourse the good thing is that I am alive, and hence stronger.. :)
Even on the personal front, it proved to be a terrible year. Had all sorts of experiences which I would never wish even to my worst enemies. Family relations, personal relations, career prospects, health .... everything went for a toss. And amidst the fiasco, I stood clueless, attempting my best to control things but for reasons unknown, things defied my control the same way sand eschews a fist. But again, the good thing is that I am alive and hence stronger... :)
I kindof liked it when 2010 passed into oblivion last night. It was not because the worst had passed as you can never be sure that the worst is over. It was more because I had emerged alive out of it, loaded with added strength and experience. I am not sure the time in future will show me positive changes, but am sure of my enhanced ability to tackle the worst that may come. Walking new paths, putting in my best, adding value to lives despite the adverse conditions, I would love to accept, endure and deliver. That's what 2010 has taught me. And it would go down the memory lane as the year that taught me a lot. Suffering brings priceless learning just the way joy brings priceless moments. You get to know the reality of it all, the way Tom Hanks knows it in 'Cast Away'. You stop for a while, look back, close your eyes, muse for some moments and all that your face shows is a soft, half smile. The next moment, you exhale it out saying 'huh', turn to the front and start moving ... with the time. Huh !

Friday, October 22, 2010

When it’s fair, its free !!!

Before the writer in me dies a sad demise, let me give ‘writing’ another try. That would summarise the fact that I have not written anything since months. And how would I? After all, it was my emotion that was put into words. Now, the emotional self has met its end, the same way ‘the good boy’ in me has suffocated to an untimely death. That left the writer in me yearning for content. Words I had but I lacked the matter, something that was quite contrary in the past.
The dying writer mumbled, “doesn’t matter if there’s no content, write anything. Use the words, else they will leave you. Don’t let the only form of expression left with you leave you.” And here I am, trying to write rubbish.
Okay, let us talk about a deep-rooted social evil called ‘corruption’. It’s actually a moral evil which has become a social evil because of its wide and deep reach into the society. While politicians are corrupt to the core, the bureaucracy too is deeply laden with this shit. The corporate world which started off neatly, too couldn’t keep the face clean. Scams and scandals have become a daily news item.
Years back, when I was in school, I once had to write an essay on corruption. I very well remember how, sitting in the exam hall, I tried to recollect the names of various scams I had heard about. And the best part of the day was the feeling at the end of the exam that my essay would help to attenuate the level of corruption. Sounds ridiculous today, doesn’t it? Since then, this has been a constant bugging news-piece. It’s as if I grew in a corrupt framework, conditioned by the society that permitted alarmingly high acceptance level. A mute spectator to the corrupt system, my questions always met the answer ‘aisa hi system hai, kya karoge’. At times before I went to sleep, I used to wonder ‘can’t we be ideal? Is honesty really utopian? Why can’t corruption be erased? and all the rubbish like shooting all the corrupt politicians after making them stand in a queue. These thoughts were followed by slumber which was again followed by the stories of corruption in the morning’s newspaper. And I guess most of the people of my generation have been nurtured by the same corrupt society in their formative years. No wonder more than half of the youth today very much resembles the character of Siddharth in the first half of the movie Rang De Basanti.
Today, I am a part of the same bureaucracy I myself blamed so furiously. And I have come to know that it’s really pretty difficult to weed out corruption from the system. Being an insider now, I can see the evil from real close quarters. And every day, some new fa├žade of corruption comes before my eyes. Those who are really clean and honest, are painted black by the corrupt majority and dragged into the system forcibly. In such scenario, it really becomes difficult to stick to your honest stand. More than half of the accused booked under vigilance cases are really honest while the actual culprits bribe the anti-corruption squad and roam free, with a clean image. A staff of my concern had his name in headlines of the local news dailies as ‘corrupt official demanding bribe’ as the contractors and other people in the system had problems in their corrupt dealings because of his honesty. I overheard a guy who passed in a promotional exam, saying ‘when it’s fair, its free unlike last time when I failed as I paid only 10K against the standard of 20K’. The very next day I overheard another guy saying ‘the dealing clerk is taking money in the name of his officer’. You do good, and you will be painted bad while those who actually do bad hardly come to the fore. The most shocking part was coming across the ‘system of fixed cuts per chair’. I had heard of it since years but saw it today only when the offered cut pertained to the chair I hold. I came to know that people right from the clerks to the highest official have fixed percentages, the figure varying from 0.1 % to 4 %. Though I declined, I very well knew that this wouldn’t allow me to work on my own, as people above me were part of the shit too. And this is the reason why budding talents get absorbed into the dishonest sea and become a part of it. Not always is the titillation inviting, at times you are coerced into the sea too.
The other sectors too are not much different. Difference in the figures shown in the salary slip and the actual wage is pretty common. More than half of the tickets of movies are blacked. Instances are numerous. And counting them would only lead to a heightened frustration.
But it’s not that the problem doesn’t have a solution. The solution lies in our conscience. The conscience does warn the body before every ill-deed. It’s just that the greed overpowers the conscience for most of the people. Let us hear our conscience more often. Cleaning of the mud-laden system is feasible only when each of us remains honest to the core. And I believe it’s not impossible. We just need to rate moral gains higher than the mortal gains. Let us join hands for this cause. And remember, together we can.