Monday, 18 March 2019

No jargon, no slogans, no rhetoric


Women’s day was a day of celebration for all

International Women’s Day (March 8) would have passed with same old jargon and gimmicks, same rhetoric and clichéd media campaigns, even in 2019, if…

Fortunately, it didn’t!

So what was different this year?

Two major things.

One – I was no more connected to journalism – directly or indirectly. Therefore, I totally and completely stayed away (thankfully) from the annual ‘run of the mill stuff’ that media produces year after year, with no novelty and zero freshness. (Mind you, their continuous harping hasn’t changed a thing. Whatever change one can see today is the normal and gradual process of evolution where media has a minuscule role to play as any other individual, government or non-profit organisation would have.)

Two – I was no more a freelancer but am now associated with a multinational, full of young and vibrant millennials. Thorough professionals, this bunch of youth bubbling with ideas and energy, do not believe in clichés. They follow their heart and do things their way. Instead of shouting slogans at the highest pitch and getting a hoarse throat, they let their behaviour do the talking.

You must be wondering as to what was it that compelled me to write about my experience (after a long gap of silence about which I owe a piece to my readers)!

Morning hours in the office - except the festivities lined up for the afternoon, there was no other expectation. But the day began with a pleasant note. Literally! A woman colleague brought handwritten cards for all women in our team. The card was accompanied with candies/chocolates, a bright smile and a warm loving hug from her to each one (at least 30 of us).

It was a simple gesture but the thought behind it was invaluable. More so, because it was unexpected and because she was not trying to please any one person. On the contrary, it was a genuine move to make everyone’s day a special one. She left the card and candy on the desk of those who were on leave!
By evening, the male colleagues were energised and ordered sweets for the whole team. Very sweet, indeed.

The company had already planned some fun-filled activities. Thank God, there was no gyan (moral teaching) and no lectures. But there was a lot of laughter and sharing personal experiences, which augmented our perspectives. The objective was to mingle with colleagues, whom we don’t interact with otherwise, being in a huge office having a large force of employees.

The icing on the cake was the gift to all women employees. A bright and inspiring cushion. The gift was small but not ordinary. The cover on the cushion, adorning brand colours, praises women power and recognises their beauty. For me, it will always be a precious souvenir.


The simple festivities of the day and the thoughtful gestures re-strengthened my belief in the power of women in true senses – and this was because we celebrated womanhood instead of trying to prove our worth.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

The city of lakes - so refreshing!

Bhopal truly and totally took me by surprise!

Today, when all Indian cities are bursting to seams with people swarming like bees, struggling to fight the snarls of traffic whilst ignoring the filth in every nook and corner, Bhopal, for me, emerged as an exception!

It was my first visit to Bhopal (September 2018) and my mind was a clean slate with no expectations or prejudices. We landed at night hence couldn't make out much of the place besides that it was unusually quiet. Nevertheless, when our car rached the famous lake in the heart of the town, the huge writing, illuminated with red light, 'Welcome to the city of Lakes' on the upper side of the lake, spoke amounts about the city.

Since it was a work visit, next two days were busy. We had to travel to some villages in the nearby areas - about two hours drive away from Bhopal. However, while going through the busiest areas of the city to our work destination, I realised a few things - the city is clean and the traffic is much less as compared to any other city in India. I didn't see anyone honking unnecessarily or speeding rashly even during the rush hour. No one seemed to be in a hurry to reach somewhere. It was not a noisy city from any point of view.

(The lake seemed to have a calming impact on its people).

Fortunately, on the last day, our work finished early. Relieved that everything had gone as per the plan, our minds were relaxed but our bodies ached and were crying for caffeine some to get rejuvenated. The urge was too strong after our hectic schedule of two days. We located a Cafe Coffee Day close to our hotel. The location couldn't have been better - at a hilly area, overlooking the lake, peaceful and surreal. The only drawback was the cheap film music, playing loud at the lake by the government run tourist centre at the lakeside, down below, which was a sure earsore for us.

The lakeside was buzzing with activities - sailing boats, motor boats etc, a number of vendors were selling a variety of foods. It was heartening to see youngsters around. The view at the lake side confirmed that Bhopal people, especially youngsters, do not hang out in 'malls' but go out to chill in the open and get some fresh air - another contrast from other big cities where air-conditioned shopping arcades are the most preferred hanging out place. Obviously, because the cities generally lack such outdoor leisure places.

The driver who was with us during our stay became a sort of our guide. He shared stories of Bhopal - major portion of which belonged to Pataudi family - ancestors of Saif Ali Khan Pataudi, once upon a time. The family distributed chunks of land to people who needed them. Pataudis still have a hotel and a bungalow which they still visit.

Another feature of Bhopal is World's First Broad Gauge Rail Coach Restaurant. Unfortunately, we couldn't dine there because it has its particular timing, which clashed with our work schedule, but I managed to peep into the coach and get some photos.

The accommodation was like icing on the cake
We were lucky to have gotten one of the best accommodations - Ivy Suites for our three-nights stay. Run by a friendly couple in their ancestral house, the place is a hotel cum a home stay. Surrounded with a lot of greenery, the place has aesthetic and heritage beauty of a boutique hotel, but the comfort of a home.

It's an ideal location if you are a creative person and want to spend a few days creating something - poem, prose, fiction, sketch, painting, photography or any other such creative activity. Famous cine star of yesteryears, Deetpi Naval stayed in this hotel to write her book. The team of Hindi movie Sanju, stayed here and so have many other known personalities.

The hotel doesn't have a restaurant but a big dining table where most of the guests dine together. The Sharma couple (the owners) - great conversationalist and extremely hospitable, also joins the guests. (Don't be surprised if they offer you a drink as well). This provides the guests a chance to mingle with others.

Alas! It was a short trip and that too work related, so I couldn't have enough of it. However, the beauty of the city and the accommodation compelled me to make a promise to myself to visit Bhopal again - this time a pure pleasure visit - to explore the city's natural beauty!

Check the photos to get a feel of the reality...

view from the lake facing room in Ivy Suites

Good to see youngsters chilling in fresh air

Raja Bhoj stand tall in his city

Traffic on a normal day

The activities at the lake side

View from CCD

World's first broad gauge rail coach restaurant

The seating arrangement is also at the platform 

leisure area at Ivy Suites 

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

A drive to walk!


The idea to drive early morning specifically to a park, and that too for a walk (read exercise walk and not a leisurely stroll), sounds silly to me.

I wonder why one would drive when the idea is to walk. Why not just step out of your home and begin walking (mind you, people who regimentally drive to the park every day for a walk, hardly ever walk to the nearby shop to buy milk or other essentials, that walk is saved for the poor house help!).

On a personal note, I feel trapped walking in a park–surrounded by a hedge and then secured with a boundary wall. To make it worse, parks these days have a pre-decided path for walking which freaks me out.

Having a path denotes someone else is planning your walk and taking charge of your morning activity. You become a robot and start going in circles like a possessed soul. Since these narrow paths can accommodate one or maximum two people, rest of the walking enthusiasts form a queue – following each other’s steps, leaving nothing to the imagination, nothing to explore.  

I prefer walking on the road (obviously on the service lane or the pavement – and thankfully all roads in the area I live in have service lanes and pavements, which have greenery in abundance).

My idea of a walk is to step out of the home and start walking. Try this and you will understand what I mean.

Walking in the open gives a feeling of independence – it is like getting out of boundaries. It feels the whole sky is yours. Vegetation surrounds you randomly, in no perfect order. You become part of nature. Your movements are not restricted. Your activity is neither guided nor predetermined. You choose it. You are the one who is in charge of your actions and not someone else.

Many of my friends who drive for their walks argue on fresh air and no pollution in parks. In their defence, they blame lunatic drivers who love to race on rather empty roads in the morning. They are right in their argument but to some extent. If there are no footpaths and if there are no service lanes, then only a deranged person or the one with suicidal tendencies would dare to step out and face the road rage. But if you have the privilege of having a public friendly place, then please don’t take out your car first thing in the morning.

At this note, I must thank my stars to be at a place that is conducive to walking enthusiasts. The area has all elements – service lanes, pavements, and plenty of greenery. Walking on these roads is not only improving my health, it brings me back rejuvenated. I explore and spot something new every day – a new way, a new path, new vegetation, new flower, or some other element, which springs a new surprise.


This breaks the monotony and keeps the walk an exciting activity for the body as well as for your mind. 

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Has the heavenly system gone corrupt?

‘The God’s own country’!

But, the God seems to either have forgotten about his/her own country or have developed a bad sense of humour to play a cruel joke on her.

Of all the states in India, states in the southwest and northeast are perhaps the most stunning places. Both regions are rich in natural beauty, rich in culture, rich in craft, and rich in culinary delights. Anyone, who has visited even a tiny part of these corners of India, can’t refrain from falling in love with the unique character, spirit, and culture that these regions have in abundance.

I have visited Kerala 2-3 times and all states of the northeast (except Tripura) innumerable times and I can vouch for their beauty and cultural richness.

However, the massive and devastating floods in both the parts – Kerala in southwest and Assam in the northeast have shaken my faith in God, who has distraught his/her own country.

I wonder, does it have something to do with Kaliyug (according to Hindu mythology – some describe it as the Age of Kali and others describe it as the Age of Kaal – in any way it denotes the era of destruction)‼

Kaliyug is associated with corruption at its prime, rule of the evil, and in a nutshell, flourishing of everything that is negative and bad.

The stories like those of Vijay Mallya, Neerav Modi and Mehul Choksi et el confirm the first association – that corruption at its prime. The fact that politicians are turning into dictators (you can’t eat what you want, you can’t wear what you want, you simply can’t express how you feel – in a democratic environment – mind you) confirm the point that Kaliyug is the rule of the evil. The fundamentalist forces which have a negative approach to everything are flourishing – so the third point is also established.  

Now the destructive floods in Kerala and Assam!

I conclude that on the pattern of corrupt bureaucracy, corrupt politicians, corrupt judiciary, and corrupt media, the system ‘above’ (at the Gods’ kingdom) have also gone corrupt.

The old bosses either have deployed corrupt Gods or have given the reins to those who have no clue about their role and responsibilities as Gods. They do not know which state needs rain which doesn’t, which family needs monetary help which doesn’t, who are the people who need opportunities to grow and who don’t, which are the places that need support and basic infrastructure and which don’t.

The result is in front of all of us.

States like Kerala and Assam are having floods while the water level is going down in hill states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, which are facing acute water shortage.

Scammers like Mehul Choksi and Neerav Modi are so loaded after fleecing the national banks now they are buying citizenship of other countries whereas, on the other hand, the country has millions of people who are unable to get two proper meals in a day.

Bureaucrats and politicians keep increasing their own salaries and perks while the rest of the nation struggles for survival although keeps paying taxes so that these public servants can have a ball of a time.

In every city, there are areas that have all the facilities – the roads have been built so many times that the pavement has gone down two feet lower. Then, there are areas in each Indian city which have no proper drainage, no sewage, no proper water, or electricity supply. In the name of roads, these areas have something that can put craters to shame.

In today’s political scenario, it would be disturbing and dangerous to ask the government to fix things. But, for mortals like me, it’s easy to blame the God and his/her kingdom, where everything is going wrong, and where the impact of Kaliyug is as clear as water in Kerala!


However, while the systems have failed, Gods have given up, we humans can do whatever is in our capacity. We can extend help to people, who at this time of crisis need support from all of us.


Tuesday, 21 August 2018

The beauty that stayed in my memory

It was simply serene and surreal with cool breeze outside.

The road was veering through dense forest on both sides. In between were scattered tiny houses secured with bamboo-fenced courtyards, a typical sight in the state of Odisha. The fences adorned recently washed utensils shining like silver in the bright sunlight (people hang utensils on the fence for drying). We were on our way to Malkangiri district.  

The area is considered sensitive for Naxal activities. Hence there were CRPF jawans (Central Reserve Police Force men) who had made their makeshift base at every curve of the forest area. They were checking every vehicle passing by although there were not many of them on the deserted road. It was quite strange to spot one or two motorbikes parked after every couple of km. Helmets hanging onto their handles but no person in sight. Our driver did not find it peculiar because for him - a resident of the area, the sight was routine.  Acting like our guide, he informed us that those vehicles belonged to cops, who hide in the forest to keep a watch on the activities inside the forest area as well as outside on the road.

As we moved a little further, there appeared a river–broad and big with sea-green water. The river flows between Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. The driver could not tell its proper name and the signs in Odia language were only squiggles for me.

The abundance of the virgin beauty of nature around the area was simply breathtaking. The river had a few small islands and each island looked like a bouquet of trees sitting in the middle of the river and welcoming the travellers. The whole area could have been a perfect weekend getaway. Had it been in any other country it would have been converted into a tourist site. This was the Chitrakonda area of Odisha where we could not restrain ourselves from taking a break.

The river has a huge dam, Balimela Dam. The water gushing out of its gates invariably attracted all motorists. Photography is prohibited at dams and putting aside the urge to share this natural beauty with friends and family back home, we decided to soak our eyes with the splendour of nature. Seeing the exquisiteness of nature in its raw form was a truly overwhelming and awe-inspiring experience. 

It was a work trip but someday I would love to revisit this area which remains untouched by any human intervention although recently a bridge has been made to connect the villages which remained cut off from the rest of the state due to rough and tough approach. 

I know it is not fair that I am now sharing the photos of the place that I am describing with so much passion. But, sometimes it is compelling that you admire the beauty with your eyes and arrest the moments in your heart, rather than capturing them in the camera. 

It is true that moments captured in the camera can be relived every time you look at the photos, but reminiscing the beauty of such exotic locations with eyes closed and reliving every moment with real pulsation, has its own charm. Now close your eyes and try to draw the picture of Chitrakonda area, and I am sure you will see the greenery around and smell the fresh air.




Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Driving blindfolded

Bhadrachalam Road…

The name on the building sounded strange, at least to me, if not to others!

Obviously, because Bhadrachalam Road was not the name of any street but it is a railway station in Andhra Pradesh (now Telangana). From here, we had to travel by road to Malkangiri district in the State of Odisha. The strange name was a hint that the journey would be an interesting one.

Malkangiri had no railway links.

Only in February 2018, a 130-km railway project has been approved by the Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (Government of India). So, the only way to reach the place was by road.

Thankfully, the driver (sent by the host) was waiting for outside the station, with a Mahindra Scorpio SUV (the only vehicle one can find on that road which passes through rough and tough terrains of the forest area.

We packed ourselves for the next 6-7 odd hours of the road trip through the rugged roads.

The fun (pun intended) began the moment we were out of the station. It was the middle of the night. The road was engulfed in thick winter fog with zero visibility. The windscreen was covered with mist. However, it did not perturb the driver who was zooming at 80 km.

Wondering why the driver was not using wipers to clear the screen, I was about to interrogate the driver. Before I could complete my question, he stated, as a matter of fact, “Wipers are not working, Madame”.

Seriously!

It was useless to discuss the matter further so we mentally prepared ourselves for the adventure. Thankfully, I was travelling shotgun so had the privilege of a seat belt whereas the rest of my co-passengers (including the driver) were happy travelling dangerously. The back seat did not even have any seatbelts.

The driver kept following the white dividing line on the road; and carried on racing unabated. In between, a time came when even the driver struggled to see where the road actually was. He had to stop the vehicle to clean the windscreen.


The adventure was over with the first ray of sun when finally we were able to see where we were going. The adventure topped with life threat was over. Looking around I realised that the beauty of nature in its virgin form was breathtaking. 

Malkangiri is surrounded by forests. The next hour helped us forget the nightmarish experience of driving blindly. Nonetheless, the experience also made this travel into a memorable experience!


Friday, 20 July 2018

Religious Idiosyncrasies

Before I could share the photos of my epic journey, journalism caught me off guard.

Scanning through the stories of the day (the journalist in me refuses to sit idle), I spotted something which forced me to leave whatever I was doing, turn on my laptop, and share this weirdness with all of you. Some of you may find it funny (not funny ha ha but funny peculiar), but it may ignite anger in most of you.

Every year, during the month of Savan (from the Indian calendar), people with strong religious faith, travel for miles to pray to Lord Shiva. These travellers are called Kanwaria (read more about them here) and this journey is called Kawar Yatra.

Years ago, these people were real devotees of Shiva and would travel on foot. They were simple, mostly rural people. Over the years, the trend changed. Now, convoys of vehicles with loud music, drunk and rowdy boys, dancing and shouting, is a common sight. Their indulgence in activities of vandalism, scuffle and violence with common commuters is reported every year.

Overlooking safety of every citizen, the Chief Minister of north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath decided to use choppers to shower these kawaria with flowers. That's not all, the state government will also use helicopters, drones and close-circuit-TV cameras to monitor the Kawar Yatra (their journey). The government servants will form Whatsapp groups to exchange information. There will be watch-towers set up. The paraphernalia is set to get huge amount of tax-payers' (you and me) money wasted in glorifying the ritual, which, today, is followed by very few genuinely religious people but mostly by the followers of the saffron brigade.

Think of this - so far, the government was not bothered about the rickety electrical system, but now they plan to change the hundred-year-old wiring, at least on that route which the kawaria will take. No one ever bothered to check the quality of food available at roadside dhabas, but now the government servants will check the food quality. The roadways bus drivers are notorious for drinking and driving at rampant speed (they know that if there is an accident, no action will be taken against them because they are part of the corrupt system). But now the roadways department will ensure that at least during the Kawar Yatra, these drives are not drinking and not driving at high speed either.

If this doesn't make you ponder over government's lopsided priorities, here is more. The government employees have been asked to use social media to educate Kawaria about dos and don'ts (as if this will discipline them!). The government is even working on a mobile app which is geo-mapping all shops, medical stores etc on google, to track the Yatra and ensure that the kawaria do not face any problem.

I was just wondering if the government had thought of paying even half attention to improving law and order, women safety, bringing down maternal deaths, infant deaths, upgrading the medical care of senior citizens, improving the quality of education (the list is endless), it would have done much favour to the state and its residents, than by spending recklessly on a religious ritual.

Lastly, the measures government is ready to take for a smooth Kawar Yatra, shouldn't these be taken in a routine way to benefit every citizen who has the right to get those services (of course, except showing flowers using helicopters!)

I am baffled! What about you?



Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Stars in my Eyes

The more I delay and procrastinate writing, the more I admire and respect the bloggers and writers who are disciplined and regular. 

However, I have finally got the time to relax and have a heart-to-heart talk with all of you who still like to read what I write (despite long gaps); but before I proceed, I must thank and apologise to all of you, and express my heartfelt gratitude for being there for me.

Last six months have been a real roller coaster ride for me. When I say roller coaster ride, I mean it! I travelled far and beyond, and now when back from the rigmarole, I feel like sharing my journey and experience with all of you.

After contemplating for about a year, I finally moved my base.

Three decades ago, I had come to Lucknow - the erstwhile city of nawabs (there are neither nawabs [Mughal royals] nor the nawabi tehzeeb [etiquatte] and culture). Though coming from a small town, I adapted to the city as a fish to water. The city gave me some memorable moments which I will cherish forever. My beautiful girl and handsome boy were born in the city. I changed my nomenclature from a housewife to a working mother. I found a few lovely friends there, experienced love and love lost, changed the course of my career, and found stability in life, and most importantly, understood the meaning of spirituality and contentment.

Growing in years (don't ask the age), I realised life is not about material possessions and happiness can't be found outside, in temporary elements and stimuli. Life is loving people and happiness is being at peace with yourself. The realisation was strong and compelled me to move from the city, which I found to have been going backwards - from being a peaceful city to a growing economy, in which people are becoming rats, and don't get tired of running (not running for health but running as chasing something or the other). I saw people becoming less loving, more flashy. 

I realised I was definitely not a part of that race and was certanly out of place - the odd one out.

The realisation converted into action and thus began the process of packing memories and events of three decades in small cartons. it was physically strenuous and mentally exhausting. But what gave me peace was the decision and clarity in my head, that this is what I wanted. when we turned the house upside down, many memories and moments tumbled up. Some narrated the stories others took us back to the memory lane. Pictures began in flashback. Certain things were kept aside to be unfolded at leisure when the whole family is together (for example the letters my children used to write to me, practically daily), others made us laugh and in between all that jazz, we found time to use some old stuff and get some selfies.

Finally, in my mid-life, (when people find themselves more or less settled), I moved the base to a bigger city. The solace this city gives me is that here I have stars in my eyes - my left and right eye are here - my children are here - my lifeline is here.

Bags have been unopened. Plants have found their corner and appear happy. The house has become more or less a home. Life is in its usual course. Laughter and music have filled the void. Now its time to explore its vibrancy, food, drinks and parks.

Now sitting with my feet up, I review the year-long journey - first mental and then physical - and the thought comes to my mind is that perhaps this was the longest and an epic journey that I have ever taken in my life.

This is also the time, I want to make a promise to all of you and more to myself that I will be regularly in touch with the people who give me their love in the form of their admiration. I will be regular in sharing my feelings and experiences with all of you, as you are the one who motivates me to converse with you in written words.

Some pictures of nostalgia will follow soon...
   

Thursday, 18 January 2018

These Stupid Smart Phones

The first day of the year! We wanted to make it special. So, we decided to visit a friend. The plan was to simply spend a lazy afternoon chatting over cups of coffee and tea, and be home before Delhi traffic becomes mental.

What we overlooked was the God’s sense of humour. Every time a man enthusiastically proposes anything, the God happily jumps to dispose the same.

The afternoon was made to order. It was so perfect that we wouldn’t have desired any change in it. We walked out of our friend’s house through a beautifully manicured park in the vicinity. We reached the main road but shelved the idea of booking a cab. The weather was ideal for walking, and we wanted to make the best of it.

On our way, we also finished some food shopping. Holding the food bags, we decided to not go for any more adventure but book the cab. My partner’s phone was already off due to no life left in the battery. I had some left so I began the process.

Ironically, before the GPS in Uber app could pin point our location, the battery of my phone suddenly slipped from 29% to zero. What we found us staring at was the black screen of the phone. This was one of those freaky and leisurely days, when we both had decided not to carry the power banks.

Now standing in the middle of the shopping area, in front of a busy road, we looked at each other. Surprisingly, instead of feeling irritated or frustrated we burst into laughter, although the situation was such that we couldn’t even call anyone to book the cab for us, and we were not in a position to do it ourselves, either.

We decided to venture out and have some fun. The idea was to prove that we could survive and manage without phones. After all, human beings were surviving even before mobile phones were invented, and were doing quite well. So, why should we be so dependent on our phones? 

We took an auto rickshaw to the next metro station. I am an Uber person and not a metro fan. When I reached the metro station, my heart began to sink. It was over crowded and was full of all sorts of people. Everyone was pushing others and running to get ahead in the swarm of people. The noise at the station seemed like someone has disturbed a hornet’s nest.

The x-ray machine was another nightmare. People were piling bags as if they were from the ‘lost and found’ section. I was worried about my bag, which was a fancy one (no zipper but jut a loop). I was afraid that my valuables (two stupid smart phones with depleted batteries and money, etc) may fall out of it, while going through the machine.

Somehow I passed the test. Picked up my bag at the other end. Stopped to breathe some fresh air, and checked if everything was intact.

The train arrived and we were pushed in by the people behind us. Standing at the door, we began our memorable journey. After a couple of stations when we got some space to breathe, we found ourselves laughing again – at the irony of the situation and our adventure. As the destination was approaching we found the situation more and more amusing.

We arrived home safe and sound after a happy and also an eventful day.
The result: unlike others who make big resolutions every year, I resolved to never leave home without power bank in future.

The incident also underlined how we humans have become prisoners of our stupid smart phones, which, after all, are not so smart.




Saturday, 13 January 2018

Invisible People

31st December – this one day, every year, the whole world goes crazy! People celebrate the day in their own unique ways. Some get sloshed only to wake up 24 hours later, wondering where the hell did they miss the first day of the year. Others sing and dance away to glory whilst ushering in the new year.

There are people, who would much rather spend the last evening of the year with their loved ones. And then, there are people like us, who prefer to chill in their own comfort zone – getting the warmth from the bonfire, discussing the issues of the world, while sipping wine and eating home cooked roasted tomato pasta.

Normally, the ambience on such occasions gently caresses the philosophical side of people; and we are not saints. We too were bitten by the philosophical bug.

On a serious note, the thoughts that crept into my mind this new year’s eve were far away from philosophy. They were purely based on observation. They were worth revisiting and held enough sensitivity to linger and ponder over them.

While we made ourselves cosy near the fire, my eyes travelled to a dark spot near the house. There is some construction going on, adjacent to our residence. It was 19:00 hours, and I saw a bright bulb lit in the middle of the otherwise dark and gloomy construction site.

Two workers were unloading the cement sacks from a truck parked at the site. The men were carrying those sacks on their heads for storing them in the temporary shacks erected at the site.

A couple of men were sitting on chairs with their eyes glued on the bright screens of their mobiles. It seemed they were there to supervise the workers.

The owners of the site must have been celebrating their new year’s eve somewhere posh and comfortable while the labourers were slogging in the cold night of winter, well after their duty hours. 

The sight was provoking enough for me, and filled my mind with questions.

I wondered if these workers were aware that it was the last day of the year!
Did it make a difference to them if it was the last day of the year or the first one?
Do they never feel the need to find such excuses to celebrate life and live it for a few moments?

I continued watching them from the balcony. They worked late that night. After finished their job around 20:00 hours, they cooked their meal and retired to their small huts. Their day ended like any other day in their lives.

The following day, which was the first day of the year, and a big deal for us to begin it in a special way, they were up and about in the morning. I woke up with the sound of a digger cutting a trench at the site while the workers were busy in their mundane routine. For them that day was no different in their lives as any other. The new beginnings and resolutions, which function as motivation for many of us, eluded them.

My mind was constantly quizzing and puzzling me. A whole lot of thoughts were squirming inside. When a person can spend one or two crore rupees in constructing a huge building in a posh area, why cannot he/she spend 2,000-5,000 to make the lives of workers a bit livelier! After all, these workers put in their hard labour to construct the dreams of others!

Putting myself in the owner’s place, I started calculating what possibly could have been done to make the day special for the labourers. The labourers could have been bought a nice meal. They could have been asked to make a bonfire – which for them would have definitely not been a luxury but necessity. The workers could have been given one day’s paid holiday on the 1st January, or anything to make that day a special one.

Any or all of the above would have cost a maximum of maybe 5,000 rupees to the owner; but it would have meant a great deal to workers for they would have gotten a chance to feel human.
 
My thinking process would have continued if it was not shaken by a sudden but harsh realisation – for many people these workers do not even exist beyond being labourers – available to slog for anyone who would pay them their daily wage!

In other circumstances (when there is no work), this community remains simply invisible to most of the people.

I do not believe in preaching, rather I practice whatever I learn. Ideas can strike anywhere and learning can come from any quarter.

I decided that from now on at least I can try to be humble and polite with these workers, who are in millions in number, in India, and make every effort to give them some happy moments.

This is because these humans need our humane approach and touch more than our money, which we spend to buy them.

If any one of you get some idea how the quality of life of these labour community be improved, please do share in the comments.

With these thoughts I wish Happy New Year to all of you and each one of those invisible worker!