I got a very pleasant surprise last week while walking through the Bhikaji Cama Commercial Complex in South Delhi. I came across a street theater group performing in an open square and they had a little audience too. It was for the first time that I saw a commercial space in Delhi being put to a creative use. The play was enacted by an ‘MBA & Mass Communication Institute.’ Their themes were focused on women’s empowerment and the part that I saw sounded very much like that of Asmita, a well-known theater group in Delhi .
All fairy tales have some amount of human reality. And sometimes real stories sound like fairy tales…
A few months ago, while I was walking towards my home after work, I saw a small group of 3 little boys picking up something from the diyas (earthen lamps) people had placed below a tree outside a temple while praying. My first thought was that perhaps they were setting them right to ensure that they burn properly. But my next thought was that little boys don’t care much about God and prayers and are generally more interested in playing boisterous games. Feeling rather curious, I walked up to them to take a closer look.
“What are you doing with these diyas?” I asked them.
“Sometimes they contain coins. People leave them here while praying and we pick them up.
With my curiosity quenched, I turned and continued walking towards my home, which was just a few yards away. At least, they were not stealing, I reasoned with myself. But I wondered why people didn’t just give the coins to people who need them instead of leaving them like this and making their hard lives much harder.
Last week, however, the same spot below the tree had a completely different look. A few new idols stood there on a lovely, brightly embroidered rectangular table cover. The diyas too were much more in number and seemed to be burning much more brightly than ever before. One more thing was different. There were no sweets, which was rather unusual, because Indian Gods are normally offered only sweets. Well, that day, a little priest had given them a little, bright red tomato! It looked quite cute and I was quite impressed. I couldn’t resist the temptation of clicking some photos.
I was suddenly startled by a squeal of delight. I turned around. It was one of those three boys I had noticed a few months ago.
“Where have these idols come from?”
“I brought them.”
“And what about these new diyas, the tablecloth, and the tomato?”
“I bought the tablecloth for thirty rupees and the other things I brought from home.”
“This looks very good.”
The boy smiled. I looked closely at his face. He looked happy and innocent with his big, black eyes.
“Do you live here? What is your house number?
“We don’t have any house. We stay in the park over there.”
I was quite taken aback with his answer and I pursued further.
“Where are your Mummy and Papa?”
“They are over there below the Metro Bridge. Sometimes we sleep here in the park and sometimes below the bridge.”
“Oh, my God, that’s rather sad. But where have you come from? You must have had some home before coming here.”
“Yes, we did. We have come from Haryana.”
“Don’t you go to school?”
“What about food? What do you eat?”
“Someone comes to the bridge everyday and gives us food. That’s how we manage.”
“What’s your name?”
His matter-of-fact way of talking made my eyes moist and I wondered why God makes little, helpless children face uncertain lives like these. I hope and pray that this child has a better future ahead…
Here is the link to one of my latest poems ‘Matryoshka Poem.’ It was inspired by a pic of a sunset that I witnessed recently. It’s called ‘Matryoshka’ because, like a Matryoshka doll, each poem leads to another.
The Indian Government recently took several anti-pollution measures in Delhi including banning of large diesel cars with engine capacities above 2000 cc and increasing taxes. Whether Delhi’s pollution levels will come down in future because of these steps remains to be seen. But they have thrown the automobile industry into a deep sea of depression and despondency.
A lot of fresh and ongoing projects have been put on hold and new hiring has stopped. Growth seems to have come to a stand-still and employee benefits are being doled out in a very miserly manner. Senior managers are often compelled to be harsh with their subordinates.
If you turn to your mentors in the Indian automobile industry today for career advice, this is what you might hear, “Just stick fast to whatever job you’ve got because you may not find another very soon. Even if you do, the new environment could be much worse and you may soon have to move on again.”
It is in this kind of a sad and gloomy atmosphere that a new car dealership is coming up just next door to mine where I work in Delhi (see pic above). This photo was clicked through a glass window of my office which overlooks this place. While their earthmoving machines go about bulldozing and pounding away the building material, our building also vibrates in sync. Sometimes the tables, chairs, and the cabin walls shake so badly that it feels like an earthquake. But no one is complaining. It seems to be a defiant act of great courage on the part of the owner and fills a lot of unhappy and disgruntled hearts with hopes for a better future. The opening of a new dealership next door holds great promise of new jobs and better salaries for many without extra travelling.
The construction activity outside appears to be going on at a very fast pace. I heard recently from a reliable source that it’s going to be a Toyota workshop and they are planning to start their operations by Diwali (30 October 2016)…
Well, let’s keep our fingers crossed and see what the future holds….