Monday, April 23, 2012

How Do You Clear The Mess?

I ve been dormant here for sometime now. I know it. But then, i dont believe in writing a post for the heck of writing it. I shall write only when i feel upto it.
       When i was a teenager, i used to talk. Way too much. Yapping would be more appropriate. And my mother used to try etching a small theory into my mind, Silence Is Golden. I used to ignore it as best as i could. You know, the typical teenager attitude. But suddenly, like out of nowhere, i transformed. My mom s lesson sank deep into me like an anchor of a ship. And i became quiet. Not like i dont talk at all. I am not of one those old fashioned English School matrons. No not in that way. But i choose not to talk when i know that my inputs are going to make a mess.
         It was a difficult task to do in the beginning. After all, when you have chattered on like there s no tomorrow, it becomes an uphill climb to resist talking. But, i learnt eventually and i must say, it has rewarded me well. From the time when i changed till now. It s kept me out of mess beautifully and for that i m immensely thankful to my mom.
         You may ask, how can keeping quiet solve anything? But it s true. There s absolutely no point in talking when you are angry. I remember reading somewhere. What you do in anger can never be right. And it s not like i dont get angry. But the way you tell the world that you are angry makes a heck of a difference. I was the shouting match person. You piss me off and you would get an earful. And i used to love scoring points in the match too. But then, i realised that scoring points in the shouting match was not important at all. What was crucial is scoring the person over. So, it began that way. There was a time i used to get so angry that i never for once thought about what i m talking. Rationality was scarce when anger was abundant. But then, when i began letting go, i realised that i had more people on my side. Ready to love me and have me around. And that feeling was heaven as against the satisfaction of winning a shouting match.
         I must talk about spilt milk here. In my opinion, you can undo anything in the whole word. But you just cant undo what you ve spoken. Once you have said it loud, you have said it and that s that. On the other hand, you are angry and you let it be till the next morning, believe me, the feeling just goes away. You can be sad for sometime but you cant be angry for long. No, that comes with a heavy price and it s very difficult to clear the mess afterward.
          From being a teenager to a jittery new bride to a lazy home maker now, the theory of Silence is golden has taken me to places. Has earned me immense respect.And in the process, lots of love. I cant be in more agreement with my mom now. And if there s a messy conversation, i feel keeping quiet is the best way to clear the mess.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Cluttered Mind

 I remember reading this quote when i was 13 or 14. " Change is the most permanent phase of life." I was on the transforming spree then, from a kiddo to a teenager who almost knew everything on the surface of this earth. Too proud to accept that i ve not understood the complete implication of the quote. But as i grew up, i realised that, that quote is like the magna carta of life. You cant evade change. No, not even if you manage to become Barack Obama or Angela Merkel or even Michelle Obama for that matter. No man or woman can overcome the hurdles of change in life. No matter what power you can wield.
              You dont need a Ph. D to realise this. Some understand the quote as quick as they can eat a cookie. And some take aeons. I am on that bus ride now. On the way to accepting the reality. Today s world has become a small world. A place where people dont have the time to say hi or smile at each other or give a buzz to a good chum. We dont connect anymore. Of course, we talk. But we dont converse. We can attribute the present state of the universe to a lot of things; technology, science, money, upliftment of standard of living. I mean what not. But on thinking twice, there s this question in my mind. After all, why did someone go to the trouble of doing all this? To stay connected. Or to put it more effectively, to stay bonded.
             Somewhere along the ride to becoming swanky and cool, we ve all lost our sole purpose, to express love. To be lovable. Both are no picnics in life. To love without thinking and without attaching a conditions apply tag is demanding. But to accept such love is also overwhelmingly difficult.The other day, when i was introspecting, i realised that most problems in life occur because one of us dont want to change.  
                Lets say the culprit here is the E guy; ego. Two of us have a problem. One. We dont want to talk about it. Two: In the eventuality that we talk, we dont want to agree with each other. And three; if at all we agree, then we dont want to hold our horses. We ve lost the ability to let go. We want to hang on, carry forward the grudge and then do cartloads of regretting.
              This situation has become the humdrum of everyone s life. Especially a newly married couple. Guy earns a 6 digiter. Gal earns 6 digiter. But do they enjoy the 12 digits put together. No!! Why? I will attribute all this to a cluttered mind. A mind which is full of negativity, too many expectations and added to it, like a cherry on the ice cream, is the back seat driver attitude. If its a marriage, then it s meant to be. It s not a contract signed before God or in the name of the Almighty. It s more like living together bonded forever.
            We must realise that we are not going to live forever. And not everyday and not everyone will volunteer to live with you throughout your life. I ll say the problem begins right there when two people are married and they are so decided that they dont want to change. Ive heard a hundred people telling me that they want to remain the way they are even after they are married. But the truth is you cant be that way. If you are living with a person, then you have to let go a little. Remember, we are all made for adaptation. When you can wear a sweater if it s freezing cold and walk around in floral prints in spring, then you can accept the fact that your spouse does not like Tom Cruise. What s the big deal about that? After all we are made for change.
                The fact that you are trying to alter the course of nature is the crux of the problem. Why is it that we are so fixed about not changing once we tie the knot. Seriously, is it like committing a murder? Some people do portray it that way. Honestly, i was not open to change either. I am a pampered only child who got every demand of hers fulfilled. But i was not taught to be stubborn like a mule or act like a zombie with people around me. All this talk reminds me of one more thing. "Personal Space" is in vogue now. I dont see it going out of fashion anytime soon. Though, God forbid. I wish it does. Since when has man become such a solitary animal? Werent we social animals? If your personal space is so sacred to you, then so it is to your spouse. What applies to you applies to the other too. You are married. That means there are two of you now who are eternal in your life; you and your better half. So there s no point in demarcation of space. In fact the more lines you draw, the more trouble you are in. Erase all the boundaries around you and see how beautiful life becomes.
           I remember reading an article in Reader s Digest. Some one wrote, " i never choose, i let my husband do all the choosing. It s not because he doesnt let me. It s because too many choices make my life complex and there s this immense joy in seeing my husband glow when i m with him" Those words are still freshly etched in my mind. When you have to choose, you complicate. Remember, you made a very good choice. In fact the best choice for your own self. Your spouse. So any choice from that end is definitely not going to be bad. Let go a little. If someone s choosing for you, its surely love that s causing the choice.
                   I dont say, we should live the life of a hermit. I only tell, we should become less demanding, less expecting and more giving. It s a wonderful thing to be on the giving end. And if at all the change is for good, then what s the harm? By good, i mean happiness and peace of mind. Money, material and luxury are all mere wants. Its needs that matter. And the need of the hour is to love and to be loved. For that, we need to unclutter our mind. I am painfully aware that unclutter is not a word but i m unable to find one more which best expresses me. So lets let go, and clear the clutter.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chronicles Of A Harried Consumer ~ Indian Railways

Indian Railways is the largest employer in the world according to some statistics. But are these statistics of any use? What are they trying to drive home? That they are providing employment to thousands is really appreciable. But in the midst of all these meaningless statistics, have we ever tried to gauge efficiency? You may argue that terms like efficiency and versatility are relative. I dont agree. Then we should not be comparing mobile phones and tablets. The indian railways is the most used transport system in our country. The poor man s airways. That s how a famous politician called it. Someone even came up with another bit of bootless statistics: One third of the indian population travels on trains at any given time.

Looking at all these facts, shouldnt it be natural that Indian Railways be the most effective organisational community? But no, i cant be more wrong. My experiences with the IRS has always been on the unpleasant side . Try as i might to look at the sunny side of the situation, i m pulled back to the same point where i begin everytime i take a train. Why is the whole system so flawed despite having a whale of an indian population on its payroll?

I am forced to think: Why are the toilets so dirty? Why doesnt the fan work on local trains? Why do we have profanity scribbled on toilets and seats? These are just the beginning of the circle of questions in my head.  My in laws took a train this morning to Chennai from Vadodara. Needless to say, that distance is bound to cause some flurry in old people travelling. Thanks to Indian Railways, the travel began on a very nasty note. They were assigned HA1 compartment. But God forbid, it took us 10 mins to figure out where the coach is. The train departed the station within 12 mins of arrival. Ask the T.T.E, the elite ticket examiner, he irresponsibly shrugs me by showing a hand towards a coach at the far corner. I go there and i see a First Class painted boldly on the coach sides. No PNR charts, no coach display boards. How on earth am i supposed to figure out where coach HA1 is? God bless the soul of a very generous porter who had the smartness to tell me that the coach which the T.T.E pointed to is half 1A.C and half H.A1. The conductor who is assigned to a coach to do this simply seemed to have disappeared. The T.T.E who enjoys a multitude of concessions from the government for rendering his very valuable services shrugged me off impatiently.At the end of the day, its only an illiterate but responsible and good hearted porter who guided us. That s how much the whole system is screwed. And believe me i ve only started.

No one is complaining that you are charging so much. So charge a lil more but give us some nice service. Why does the conductor vanish off the surface of the already stinking train just when it is so obvious that everyone boarding the train s going to need some guidance? And the nerve of him to come and ask for a tip when i m alighting the train. A hundred bucks more on my ticket will definitely not hurt me as i m travelling on second A.C but if you dont treat me well, i m definitely going to be put off. Especially if you are getting paid with the money that i m paying towards the ticket. If its A.C it has to be A.C throughout the journey. I think that much is clear. So why does the A.C go off mid journey. Am i eligible to claim money back for travelling very uncomfortably in a stuffy coach for the half of my journey? How does the conductor manage to do that alone in perfect sequences? Why does the loco pilot never bother to keep in mind the coach position that s put up on platforms? Why are the waiting rooms infested with swarms of mosquitoes? Its not going to take millions of rupees to have the coach name painted on trains.  These are just some of the teeny weeny battles that i ve had to combat during my journey on an Indian train.

Now coming to the dirty toilets and profanity part. Why does the urge to mess a public utility service crop up in every individual? It s after all our trains. There are people like us travelling on the trains. So it s our responsibility to flush the toilets and to refrain from damaging fans, mugs and switches. The railways cant do much if you cant contribute in your own little way. We give lectures on how important women are and how much we respect them. But we are all hypocrites who like scribbling profane graffiti on toilets in trains and behind bus seats. That s how much we respect our women. Arent we all walking epitomes of hypocrisy?

We will never have clean trains and a perfectly functioning Indian Railways until we realise that people are paying for their tickets and they deserve decent service in return. And that the railways is but ours and that we also have a duty to keep trains clean.

The next time we all board a train, lets strive to make a difference to everyone s journey. Lets wait in a queue to board or alight, lets not spit on the platform, lets flush the toilets and most importantly, lets remember not to damage or steal anything.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lets Give A Little

Its been a month. I ve read 3 books since but haven't had the time to write a review. Other things on mind. No, i m not writing a book review today. I had a blissful and an unexpected holiday. Unadulterated quality time with amma, daddy and my dog for a week. But time does not stand still. I had to get back. I was travelling on the train from the made over Coimbatore to the culture hub Baroda. Takes an agonizing 34 hours. Seems sinful to waste such time sometimes. At the end of 12 hours, one keeps checking the watch hour after hour. Gets bored and starts observing people around. That s just what i did. I had a nice friendly family with me. Exuberant 12 year old son and a very gratified 16 year old daughter back from a joshing vacation. A bubbly mom of 2 and a wonderful father.
                                                 I was getting bored. My feet were itching to alight the train and walk the length of the platform by the 20th hour. But i remembered my mom's affectionate admonitions. I resisted and continued watching the people. Just when i was wondering why some people choose to swear in public ( upon overhearing the conversation in the next bay. An angry young man threatening someone at the other end. God knows who!!), this bit of talking between the Exuberant Kid and The Bubbly Mom caught my ears.
                                                   The conversation goes something like this,
Mom( looks out the window)- " Beta(son), look there s a train on the other track.
Son-" Train is empty ma."
Mom-" I think they are going to clean the train"
Son-" Where will an empty train go?"
Mom- " The train will move once its cleaned and ready. Lots of people will use the train. Trains are cheaper and comfortable beta"
Son- " They should probably plant some bombs on the train while its empty. ( Roars with laughter) Many people will die( Again laughs his head off.)
Mom- Laughs ridiculously and tells me," My son is so funny"
The conversation rang in my ears throughout my journey. All along, i was thinking, " Have we any value left for human life?" And i was scared of the answer that stared right up at me. I knew it was a no. I found it hard to accept. This unjustified killing or rather organised massacre of lay people is so not hunky dory. Ok that said and done, is it ok to laugh out loud on a bomb blast? From where did the idea of planting hideously perilous explosives come to the mind of a 12 year old? I mean, is that where we are heading to? Aren't we supposed to nurture better human beings? Have we digressed so much that we ve forgotten to teach our kids the value of life? The value of anything at all. We have stooped down to immeasurable depths in terms of integrity, love and trust.
                      I was left dumbfounded. And it did not stop there. The family carried enough food to feed some 6 people. And still, they bought everything on the train. The daughter simply refused to eat the biriyani that her father affectionately bought. Reason- colour is not so great. They probably wasted food that could have filled another two stomachs. That kind of thing was not admissible when i was sixteen. I am twenty five today and its still not acceptable to me.
                         We are a generation of people who take things for granted. A spawning of homosapiens dunked neck deep in technology, passion for power and conceit.All we think of is us. All we want is the best for us. We simply refuse to accept that there are less fortunate people among us who do not have the appurtenance of eating three meals a day. We are blind to the bitter truth that there are many among us who will pay an arm and a leg to sleep in that cozy bed of ours. We simply don't appreciate the little things in life granted to us without even a pee-wee of an effort. We see terrorist attacks as a platform for discussing our voting prerogatives. We don't think that one among us could have been in that carnage.
                               Its time we all grew out of our "Cool And Hep Selves". Its time we saw beyond I Phones, Facebook, Pizzas and Expensive Fishing Holidays . Its time to stop and think about people around us. It s time we all came of age and share a little of the excess we have all accumulated. Someone s always out there to benefit from that teeny weeny excess. So this year, lets all give and live. The giving need not be material. You can give love, warmth, understanding, why, even a little bit of your happiness. We need not be Mata Haris to do that, do we??