Category Archives: machines

Playing Seeta & Geeta

Photography with a mobile phone can be great fun indeed.

Here I am, playing a double role, like in Bollywood movies, the lost and found twins who get separated in a carnival during childhood…

Just try clicking a selfie with your mobile phone while you stand before a big mirror and you will get the same Ram-and-Shyam or Seeta-and-Geeta effect!

I look forward to reading your comments.

 

 

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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?

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.

A Good Government

Sometimes your own blog post can act as a source of inspiration for a poem.

I discovered this recently when I found myself developing a poem ‘A Good Government’ from the first paragraph of my article ‘Feeling Safe.’

URL: https://jasbirchatterjeephotoblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/07/feeling-safe/

This  poem is now on Poemhunter.com

https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/a-good-government/

 

 

 

Between Jobs…

On 16 November 2017, I lost my mother. Next day, while participating in the death rituals at home, I learnt through the office whatsapp group that I had lost my job as well and someone else had already joined in my place! These events were not entirely unexpected, to be honest, but their close timing within a gap of just 24 hours placed me in the kind of situation that I was just not ready for.

I was like someone benumbed. Brooding and grieving were now luxuries that were out of question. I now had a far bigger worry, to find a new job. It was a matter of survival and a big challenge, as automobile industry is going through a very tough phase these days.

Unlike the Bollywood heroes who comfort themselves, when badly cornered, with the thought “Mere pas Ma hai,” meaning “My mother is with me,” I didn’t have this consolation either.

But you’ve got to keep moving somehow; that’s what my Mom always said. So I consoled myself with “Mere pas Daddy hain,” (meaning my Dad is with me). I began my job search by posting lots of job applications daily like someone gone crazy. I spoke to a lot of people and asked them to help. Some of them went out of their way to support me and cheer me on. Soon enough, I began getting invited for interviews.

I had no idea when I was going to get my next job, so I tried to save money by avoiding last-mile transport and walking as much as I could. A walk of a kilometer or two, I discovered, didn’t give me too much pain and actually helped me build up my self-confidence.

And one day, I had 2 interviews lined up, both very close to Delhi Metro stations.

The first one got me an offer. It wasn’t good enough, but it was something to fall back upon just in case nothing else worked out. It filled me with hope and worked like straw for a drowning soul.

My next interview was near the Huda City Center Metro Station, Gurgaon. I reached there about 2 hours ahead of the scheduled time. I spent the first hour picnicking on a bench outside the station under the soothing winter sun. I slowly ate my home-made lunch while watching people moving about in the station premises…I felt absolutely liberated. I was no longer anyone’s slave, I reminded myself. I was a free person, far away from the office cameras, mean, scheming subordinates, and manipulative bosses.

Well, like everything else in life, my picnic hour too ended. I got up and began my last-mile walk to the interview venue…I walked in a leisurely manner, like a tourist, on a sight-seeing tour and I clicked several pics on the way…

Those pics are given below…

Ferocious pigs…

A worried bull, clueless, indecisive, uncertain, like me…

Appproaching twilight…

The second interview happened as scheduled. It was in a plush, elegantly designed office. The best part was the rangoli with colored plastic beads…See below…

Nothing came out of it though, except for the tactful we-will-get-back-to-you-soon answer. But I didn’t feel disappointed. I felt happy and peaceful. When I came out of the lift, I noticed a bunch of pink Bougainvilleas clinging to a fence. They looked ravishing, like a young lady on her night out, leaning on the arm of her beau…

Well, sometimes, I guess, you have to remain content with just being alive, being able to watch days change into nights, nights into days, the sun, moon, and the stars.

On 12 December 2017, I finally got my next job. It’s not exactly the kind I would have accepted under normal circumstances and I am not even sure for how long I will be able to keep it.

So I have simply stopped planning ahead…It’s now, this minute, this moment that matters…Nothing else…

The Story Of A Poem

In 2006, my life turned completely upside down. Nothing seemed to work. It was during this tough phase that I wrote my poem ‘The Delhi Metro.’ I had no idea why I wrote what I wrote and what I was going to do about it. It was just a spontaneous expression of hope, strength, and courage to carry on and I felt light after writing it. The idea of getting it published some day never occurred to me and I wasn’t even sure whether it had any literary value at all.

When I showed the hand-written poem to my husband, he thought it was ‘nice’ and suggested some minor changes.

I subsequently uploaded the corrected poem on Poemhunter.com because every poem has a life and a destiny of its own. A day or two later, everything became as usual and I forgot all about the poem. Like me, the poem too wandered in the wilderness.

In 2012, however, six years later, Connie Robertson, an editor from OUP (Oxford University Press), UK, picked it up and chose it for inclusion in one of their upcoming textbooks! I still think I was a poetic Cinderella that a Fairy Godmother launched into the publishing world. Why else would a world-famous, prestigious publisher like OUP wish to engage with me, an obscure writer living in a poor country like India, doing a job that had nothing to do with writing, publishing, or poetry.

Connie’s first message to me was through Poemhunter as she didn’t have my email id. She requested me for “non-exclusive rights to OUP to publish my 60-line poem ‘The Delhi Metro.”

My first impulse was to count the number of lines. Yes, it was 60 alright, but I still had my apprehensions.

In my reply, I asked her to explain what she meant by “non-exclusive rights” because the idea of giving any kind of rights whatsoever, as far as I was concerned, felt like giving up a baby forever; a very painful thing, not something I could imagine myself doing.

Connie’s response was, “By non-exclusive rights, we mean that

a. You retain the copyright and you have full freedom to get the poem published elsewhere.

b. By allowing us to publish the poem, you will get the opportunity to show off your baby to the whole world.”

I was really touched after reading this. About 6 months later, OUP sent ¬£200 into my bank account through RTGS and an author’s copy of the book at my residence through courier. I still have the courier packet as a momento…

I recently came across a very cute newly-married married couple in a Delhi Metro train. While they smiled, laughed, kissed and hugged each other in gay abandon right in front of my amused eyes, they reminded me of the newly-married couple in my poem ‘Delhi Metro,’ completly immersed in each other’s company. I could feel the dreamy, magical aura they created around themselves and I gave in to the strong temptation to freeze those ecstatic moments forever by clicking their photograph. They are now the hero and the heroine of this poem on Poemhunter. Here is the link:

https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-delhi-metro/?m=0

Only Time will tell how this poem will lead its life in future.

Copyright: Jasbir Chatterjee