All posts by Jasbir Chatterjee

Poet, writer, blogger, corporate professional

Being Poles Apart…

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Embrace Life, Not Death

On 16 June 2018, I came across a strange man while travelling in the Metro. He was talking to himself and seemed to be absolutely disgusted with life. “Even God would wish to commit suicide,” he said. I was shocked, of course, but I was unable to do anything about it. All I could do was move away to another seat far away from him.

The memory of this incident refused to leave my mind, so I wrote about this in my blog on 28 June 2018.

Click here to read this piece. https://wp.me/p67zXw-2h

I had not imagined then that just a few days later, on 2 July 2018, the city would wake up to the shocking news of a well-planned suicide through hanging on the night of 1 July 2018 by a big family of 11.

Photo source: Whatsapp

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/bihta-businessmen-meet-deputy-cm/articleshow/64833340.cms

Like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, as per media reports, a severely delusional senior family member, whom the whole family believed and trusted blindly, led the whole family into committing the ghastly act in their common quest for the so-called Moksha. They believed that they would not die and something wonderful was going to happen once it was over!

Is there any connection between the two incidents? I mean, is the man behind the family’s tragic end same as the one I saw on 16 June 2018? I can’t say really and I hope not.

But it does seem that negativity, dark thoughts, and mental disease are spreading through the city like an epidemic at an alarming speed.

Another worrisome thing about suiciders is that they often put so much thought and planning into it that talking them out of it is next to impossible.

What they don’t realize is Death gives nothing. It is just a scavenger, a super-efficient garbage handling machine. When Life ends, everything ends. Simple.

Life, on the other hand, has so much to give. It is only while you are alive that you can hope to achieve anything you want, even Moksh for that matter.

Life is, in fact, a wonderful gift from God, something beautiful, something that probably no other planet has. So value it, dear Friends. Hold on to it like nothing else.

On The Fringe Of Humanity…

What’s wrong with this man with his shoes taken off in a Metro train? Well, not much, on first look.

He appears to be just one of those overworked, ordinary middle-class employees of a private sector organization. This was what I thought too.

But as soon as I settled down on a seat opposite to him, I noticed that he was talking very loudly to himself. I thought he was praying or perhaps he was speaking to someone through a Bluetooth device.

It soon became clear to me, however that he was doing none of these and he had a serious mental problem. He was ranting and cursing everyone, his family, friends, everyone he knew, this country, and even God! Over and over, he kept repeating the same lines which overflowed with venom and hatred for everything in life. He kept saying that he hoped this world ends soon in a nuclear blast and he gets to die like a dog with his body torn into shreds! Even God would want to commit suicide, he kept reiterating. Once in a while, he bent downwards to scratch his toes protruding through his torn socks.

I was horrified and I wondered how people sitting next to him managed to ignore him. See below.

His clothes were clean and well-ironed and he seemed to be from a good family. His choice of words indicated that he was well-educated and read newspapers regularly. What were those circumstances that unhinged him to such a great extent? I could not gather this from what he was saying.

I pitied him, but I could not do anything about it. Unable to put up with him any longer, I moved to another seat far away from him.

But it was clearer to me now what kind of people hurl themselves on the Metro rail tracks.

Delhi Metro, I hope you are reading this. Please keep a close eye on this man and if ever required, save him from himself…

Lady Auto Wali

Until very recently, auto rickshaw drivers were always males; autowallahs, that’s what we called them.

But on 26 June 2018, I had a pleasant surprise. My driver was a female and I had an additional bonus. It was a brand new vehicle with new floor mats placed neatly on the floor.

We waited for a few minutes while she solicited for more passengers.

A fellow e-rickshaw driver came up to her and said respectfully, “Madam, thoda aage badha lo! (Meaning in Hindi, Madam, please move a bit ahead)”

While he walked back , she drove her rickshaw a few steps ahead.

Finally, it was full and she confidently drove the vehicle into the busy traffic….

A few stops later, we saw a young man waving. She stopped beside him and waited for him to enter. He eyed the passenger seat beside her on the front, hesitated, and a second later opted to sit along with us behind her.

Gleefully, I noticed that had she been a male, he would have probably just plopped beside her without a second thought and parked his right arm behind her on the metal railing…

Our next stand was at a temple near Channan Devi Hospital, Janakpuri. This time she stopped and came out with a water bottle. She filled it at the water cooler and returned to continue with the journey.

She turned to the passenger next to her and said, “Yahan ka pani bohot meetha hota hai (Meaning, water from here is very good to drink).”

My co-passengers included a little girl, age about 8, I think, and her mom. They spent the first few minutes in eating chowmein off a small plastic plate. The little girl ate elegantly with 2 forks while her mother kept on picking strands of chowmein with her fingers and depositing them into her mouth. Once the chowmein was over, the mother threw the disposable plate outside and thrust a 10-rupee note into the girl’s trouser pocket.

Cautioning her, she said, “Yeh Autowali Aunty ke liye hai.” (Hindi translation: This is for Auto wali Aunty).

A passenger got off from the seat next to mine and the chowmein lady took his place. Turning towards me, she remarked, “My father also has an e-rickshaw. He keeps telling me to start using it. You just have to take care of brakes and speed.”

We all seemed to be moving at a leisurely pace. It was my weekly off and I wasn’t in a hurry either. I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed my short journey.

When we reached our destination, I tried to come out from my right.

The autowali lady stretched out her hand and said, “No, not from there. There’s heavy traffic.”

I came out from the other side and handed her a 50-rupee note.

She muttered something into her face handkerchief about not always having “enough change.”

After giving me back my balance of Rs.40, she drove off…

With many government sectors closed and jobs too few, it’s good to see more and more women foraying into fields that were once male bastions.

Adversity, after all, doesn’t care for gender. Why should we?

Father’s Day 2018!

On the night of 17 June 2018, I returned home from work to another hugely pleasant surprise from my daughter Suroshri!

As soon as I opened the door of our fridge, my eyes fell on a big plate of fruits and chocolates decorated so beautifully! It showed how much thought, creativity, and care had gone into making it look the way it did that day; bright, gorgeous, and oozing with the sweetness of love…

Suroshri had brought a lot of other things too to make the day special for us. They were all so irresisistibly tasty that we simply forgot to click their pictures before gobbling them!

These days, there are special Days for every emotion, which is a very good thing really, especially when you are at the receiving end.

When I was a youngster, however, we did not have the pleasure of celebrating special days like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc. We did not even have access to cameras to click pictures to commemorate special moments. We just kept memories of such emotions in our hearts and souls and savored them silently with our eyes shut long after they had happened.

Anyway, each generation, I guess, does things in a style that it is capable of and enjoys doing, so you just have to be happy and play along…

And here are the photographs from Suroshri’s WhatsApp status on Father’s Day 2018.

Cauliflower And Sweet Corn Bhurji

Have you ever tried to cook cauliflower and boiled sweet corn together?

Well, I did. Last week. For the first time in my life. And this time, the recipe created itself. May God bless Necessity!

I had a small cauliflower piece lying in the fridge along with some boiled sweet corn. That was all I had and I had to cook something. There was no other alternative.

I decided to make cauliflower bhurji for lunch that day. To add volume to it, since cauliflower by itself would have been insufficient, I grated the boiled sweet corn cobs as well and added it to the bhurji. The result turned out to be amazingly delicious.

Everything happened in a few minutes and it looked as if I spent hours in making it!

Here are the step-by-step pics.

1. In a karachi, add 2 tablespoonfuls of oil. Once it becomes hot, add 2 teaspoons of whole coriander seeds. Then add grated cauliflower and sweet corn cobs.

2. Stir.

3. Add a pinch of turmeric, salt and chilli powder as per taste.

4. Keep stirring occasionally till the grated vegetables become tender. Add some amchur as per taste. Once ready, shift from Karachi to another container. Enjoy!☺️

The Magenta Line, Part 2

 

metro pic 2

 

metro pic 6

Now that the excitement over travelling in brand new trains with brightly colored seats and polished floors hurtling through cool, ultra-modern stations has cooled down, everyone is now back to discussing practicalities. How much time is saved, actual travelling time, transit time during transfer to another track, time wasted in walking through the station’s passages and traversing through the steep escalators with some of them nonfunctional at times, etc, etc.

Well, if you come to think of it, the connecting passages between the Magenta Line and other lines really do seem to be inordinately long, both at Kalkaji Mandir and at Hauz Khas. The time saved in covering shorter journeys gets wasted in walking through these long passages.

metro pic 3

For regular office goers, senior citizens, school kids, and differently abled people, the long transit time is a very strong deterrent and prevents many like me from using this route more often. That’s why I still use the old route on my way back from office as I feel too tired to get up and shift to another train.

And then, in the end, at Janakpuri West, while you walk towards Vikaspuri on the dimly lit road at night, one more obstacle awaits you; a big bunch of gypsies including women and children, huddled on the road, leading their unfortunate lives in the open. With overhead cables dangling around them, all of them appear to be in various stages of rest and unrest. It is not advisable to stare at them while they cook, eat, sleep in drunken oblivion, and hurl abuses at each other. But it is impossible to not steal a furtive glance at them from the corner of your eyes and you feel like you’re walking by a huge bunch of black deadly snakes that may suddenly pounce on you.

metro pic 4

 

metro pic 5

Anyway, life goes on… You just have to trust God and keep moving as usual.

The Magenta Line

Delhi Metro is one of the many things that we Dilliwalahs are absolutely proud of. It has given us so much to be grateful for. Our hopes, dreams, and aspirations revolve around it and each time, a new track is added, it helps us breathe easier and adds to our confidence and trust in our nation as common citizens.

Way back in 1997, when I travelled around in the U.S. during a company-sponsored training program, I never imagined in my wildest of dreams that one day those air-conditioned trains and gleaming marble floors of a Metro station would exist in my own country too.

On 29 May 2018, at 6 AM, Delhi Metro’s much-talked-about Magenta Line from Janakpuri West to Haus Khas was thrown open to public. People like me from this part of Delhi who used to catch the Yellow line to their offices in Gurgaon from Rajiv Chowk earlier can now catch it from Hauz Khas, with travelling time reduced to half.

I took my debut ride in the Magenta Line on the following day on 30th as 29th was my day off. The station premises had swanky, cool interiors with marble floors all through, a far improved version of metro stations built earlier. Being new, the floor was still very slippery. I was glad that I chose flat black shoes over heeled ones. All the Magenta line indicators had magenta patches on them. The marigold flowers and mango leaves draped all over the place during inauguration on the previous day still looked happily fresh.

It took me three long, steep escalator rides deep into the earth’s belly to reach the platform. It has been said that they are India’s longest.

People stood in orderly queues and quietly moved into the train once it arrived. That was another pleasant change from what one normally encounters at Rajiv Chowk Metro station.

Here are some pics clicked during the excitement of my first ride in the Mageta Line.

Leading And Preaching

What’s wrong with this pic? Nothing. I can already imagine you rolling your eyes upwards and saying this. But through an insider’s eyes, a lot.

Here are your clues. This photo is of a car workshop’s routine morning meeting with technicians, managers, and various support staff. The meeting is at the last stage where the technical staff routinely participate in a physical fitness exercise; which is a very good thing indeed.

The guy in the center, however, the one in jeans and sports shoes, contrary to what you might think, is not a physical fitness instructor but the Workshop’s General Manager.

Just before the exercises began, he gave a long speech on customer delight, proper grooming, and importance of coming to work in formal, clean uniform.

While customers glared, puffed and fumed angrily at the vacant reception, as everyone was stuck in this meeting, this man refused to let go and rambled on for a precious half an hour, talking about things that could have been discussed later in some other forum.

Well, now you get it, I am sure.

Leaders often forget that it is not enough to point fingers at your errant subordinates. You need to lead through personal example; follow what you preach…Which is easier said than done.

Unfortunate, but true.