Desh bandh !


Over the past few hours I have been receiving phone calls from overly concerned friends and relatives – “Beta sab theek hai na? Koi takleef toh nahi ho rahi na?”. Thankfully, the unbelievable coverage that Uninor offers has been deterring people from calling be when I’m at office. So just to keep people, both concerned and least bothered, updated about the situation here, I have decided to highlight the ground reality in this post.

Myth : There is a nationwide bandh organized by the Opposition parties against the hike in fuel prices. Mumbai is the worst hit.

Reality:

This morning I woke up to the usual pestering pitter-patter on my window, caught the usual bus to my workplace, got off at the usual bus stop and walked in the usual direction towards my office. No worries.

Yes, there were a couple of people pelting stones at the neighbourhood McDonalds (something that I have always wanted to do). My interest must have been apparent on my face because as I approached the mob, one of the rather animated stone-pelters came towards me, grinning. “Phekna hai?”, he asked me casually offering me a well shaped stone. My initial desire to grab the stone and fling it with all my might was somewhat curbed by the fact that there were no windows left to be broken. I expressed the concern to my new-found stone-pelting friend. He nodded slowly with a very understanding expression. “No more fun here,” he said. “But we are going to break the KFC outlet too. Wanna come?”

I was of course, naturally curious about why the stone-pelting was going on in the first place. I asked the stone-pelter about it. “It is because of the toilets.” came the reply. For a second I thought I had misheard him and begged for his pardon before asking him to reiterate his statement.

“The toilets man. These corporates have such wasteful toilets. The thing is, the mayor of Mumbai went to Singapore to attend a conference on water management and she has identified the two crux causes of the water shortage in the city – Wasteful corporate flushes and Immigrating workers. This bandh is to stop all corporates who are bringing in workers from outside Aamchi Mumbai and also using flushes that are sending our precious water down the drain.”

I stood rooted to my spot for a while. Will there be no toilets at Deloitte too? I asked him, “So you are basically shutting down every toilet in Mumbai?”. “That’s right”

“So where do people go if they want to pee?”

“They can pee in our lakes and add to the water reservoirs. Only in this way can the water bodies be replenished.”

“What if there is no lake nearby?”

“Then they can pee on the ground. You see, already the water table is receding. Measures like this will help restore it.”

 I don’t know why I thought I could reason with him when I said “Well, there are better ways to manage water, surely.”. “Think practically man. We need to take matters into our own hands now. Every individual has to act and only then we can think of saving the earth. So, are you coming along to KFC?”

I had no real enimity against KFC so I looked and my watch and explained that I was getting late for work. “Work? You have work today?” came the mildly surprised reply. I nodded somewhat halfheartedly. “Where do you work?”

I thought for a moment and replied, “TCS”.

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First Encounter.


The monday morning woke up to ever-thinning rains. The roadside tabby stirred and pricked up its ears to a new sound. Without warning, thousands of IT guys, of every shape, size and color burst onto the pavement. As it scrambled to get out of the way, the tabby realized it recognized one of the dullest looking human forms. ‘Oh wait, is that not the hopeless guy with a hapless blog? Yes, that does seem to be him. He looks a lot more boring in person than on the blog.’ As it settled back down on a quieter patch of pavement and got back to licking its paws clean of the persistant human odour, it failed to realize that the blogger was stepping into a new phase of life.

The blogger, meanwhile, had barely noticed the tabby. But he did notice that he was the only one in sight wearing a tie. Hastily, the tie came off and got unceremoniously dumped into the right pocket. It would stay there for the next several hours and feel a rather annoying phone vibrate next to it again and again. It wasn’t as though the phone enjoyed vibrating and the tie was not making things more comfortable in the right pocket. But sometimes, as the wise pocketed blogger once said, you just have to shut up and sit through it; which incidentally, was the precise thing that the blogger was doing at the very moment.

Indian roads are never known for their flawless surface but in the monsoons, they can put lunar craters to shame. The blogger was no alien to either the roads or the bus that was rolicking along it. However, it wasn’t as though he enjoyed it. His spine creaked and groaned, people and baggage flew everywhere, and through the corner of his eye, the blogger could have sworn, he saw a floorboard give way. After what seemed like ages enough to witness the rise and fall of civilizations, the bus crashed to a halt. The engine sighed and withdrew into deafening silence. Heaving his bag out of the pile that had been dumped on the roadside by the bus, the blogger wondered if it would ever start again.

An uphill trek, a few paces right, a lift ride, a ferry across and a couple of swings across vines later, the blogger found himself standing in the lobby of what was to be his second home for quite some time to come. Passers-by glanced at this new comer with a raised eyebrow but with no real interest; maybe it was his right shoe – untied and covered in roadside filth or maybe it was his hair – carefully plastered down to avoid any indications of the madness that usually filled his head or maybe it was just his body language – hands feeling heavier than before and feet more prominent than ever. All around him, the walls rose in stubborn gloom and the chandelier above swayed menacingly. Bloggers are not accustomed to such treatment. They prefer the comfort of their chairs, the reassurance of their own keyboard under their fingers and the familiar smell of  crumbled clothes and dried up cups of coffee.

The receptionist gave a faint smile and took the bunch of papers that were slid towards her over the counter. The blogger fidgeted with the strap on his bag, staring into no particular direction as he waited for the lady behind the glass counter to go through his forms. The watchman’s eyes scanned him from head to toe and the blogger whistled a tune he hoped the watchman would find innocent. It seemed to work wonders as the watchman lost interest in him and retired to his chair. A somewhat frustrated voice told him the receptionist had been trying to get his attention for quite a few seconds. The blogger clumsily hurried back to the counter and peered through the glass. His forms had been carefully gathered up, stacked and stapled; they looked a lot newer than when he had pulled them out of his bagful of rubbish. The lady, he noticed, wore pink earrings, clearly non-metallic. Was that all she could afford with what the company paid her? The lady, however, shot him a glance that plainly told him to mind his own business. She picked up a card that had the blogger’s name printed on it and handed it to him without any flair. A murmur of thanks and a watchman satisfied with the authentication later, the blogger stepped into a room with cubicles as far as the eye could see. The banner above his head tried to make him feel at home, though he felt it could really have done a better job. The plain cloth only had 3 imprinted letters – “W2D”.