Thursday, 13 August 2015

Celebrating the Silver Jubilee of R & D

Set the alarm and wake up at 4.00 am, brush and get fresh, have coffee and leave home by 4.30 am, park the car and rush into the railway station by 5.00 am for the 5.15 am train. Wait patiently for the announcement of the platform number, with no news till 5.30 go to the enquiry counter and get no response. More waiting, a round of bland machine coffee, pick up a newspaper, sit in a corner of Platform no. 1 and read through most of it while the ear reaches out to the announcement amidst the cackling noises and glancing eagerly at the far end television monitor for updates. Finally at 6.15 the ‘Chennai Express’ is sounded on the loudspeaker, to arrive ‘shortly’ on platform no. 6. Tuck the newspaper under the arm and climb the stairs to descend on the now already full ‘stage’. Some more waiting and a round of crossword in the now crumpled newspaper, with patience waned, the train chugs in slowly at 7.00. The frantic glance across the windows ends with the sight of the ‘relative’ standing at the door of S 12.

I proclaim with open arms: ‘Welcome to Hyderabad’, and uncle responds with ‘we are at Secunderabad right’, a broad grin masks my disapproval of the PJ.
The day went by with the usual ‘guided tour’ of tourist spots in and around the twin cities. The next day is for the shopping at General Bazaar, garments, pearls, Karachi biscuits and more. Late afternoon siesta plans are abandoned for its time for the return journey. Packed dinner in tow we leave home at 4.00pm to arrive at Secunderabad at 4.25pm exactly an hour before the Chennai Express departs. Some extended small talk while straining my eyes to sight the train which arrives grudgingly late by 30 minutes. The customary good bye done, I drive back home with the car stereo playing Kishore Kumar’s “Chala jaata hoon kisi ki dhun mein…” and the mind goes back to over two decades of R and D and gets nostalgic. Yes, Receiving and Dropping in short the R & D, of friends, relatives, cousins, aunts and uncles from and to Railway Stations, Bus stands and Airports seems to have been a practice, now over 25 years.

I recollect my college days when it was early morning travel by local bus to the railway station followed by the auto rickshaw ride home with cousins, then as years went by the pickup and drops by two wheelers and later by four wheelers. From summer holiday jaunts to business visits to attending functions of friends and relatives, to study related visits of younger cousins and nephews and nieces the innumerable R & D had brought lot of cheer. 

This apart the numerous trips to the old Begumpet airport for R & D of friends embarking on chasing their American dreams and studying in the land of opportunities, too have been countless. In the course of this R & D, I have done lots of research and development to improve the ‘service’ with the emphasis on punctuality being never compromised.

While most brought cheer, some brought gifts, some carried light luggage others carried huge ‘baggage’, some reciprocated the ‘favour’ at their home towns while others had none of it in their dna, nonchalantly arranging the neighbourhood taxi driver to engage in the R & D or simply see off from the local bus stop unemotionally.

The fast paced life and with changing times, the visits have been dwindling, the R & D reduced to an occasional affair. These days friends and relatives book their cab from their source city, prefer staying at hotels, drop into the city and take off uninformed, some even come and make this city their own, but remain incognito. 

Life goes on, as I await the next call for that much loved early morning mission and another update to my long list of R & D! 

Monday, 3 August 2015

What ails India?

In Conversation with a young lady journalist

A middle-aged middle class hard working salesman in a private manufacturing firm recently met a young lady journalist in a train and then they got talking on varied subjects… eventually the salesman realized the answer to many an Indian’s never answered question – What ails India?

The setting: winter evening - in a second class train compartment. Salesman travelling to headquarters to attend a two-day meeting sitting at the window reading a weekly magazine with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi featured on the cover page. Lady sitting at the opposite window reading a voluminous Ayn Rand novel with her spectacles perched over her head, occasionally glancing at her older co-traveler.

After exchanging few glances and bored of reading their respective books, they strike a conversation.

Here are the excerpts:

Sales Man (SM): Hi, that’s an interesting book you are reading, are you a student?
Journalist Lady (JL): No, I’m a journalist with a leading English magazine.

SM: That’s nice to hear.

JL: Do you actually believe that the man on the cover of the magazine you are reading is going to bring Achche Din (good days)?

SM: (Taken aback with the pointed question) Of course. He’s a proven administrator who has the wherewithal to lead the nation grappling with many ills into a better future.

JL: Humbug, he is a mass murderer … a man responsible for the death of thousands of innocent people in the 2002 Gujarat massacre… a right wing conceited leader who has no family, no respect for the constitution. I think he’s a huge blot on the secular fabric of this country.

SM: But wasn’t he elected with a huge mandate to lead the nation after a highly disappointing and corrupt administration crippled the economy?

JL: A mandate that is not a majority of the Indian populace, just a 30+ percentage that chose his party. He is going to destroy this nation. He is the worst thing to happen to India.

SM: You are being judgmental. Your prejudice is born out of excessive media hounding of the left-liberal kind that has been ever cynical of anything that is not conforming to the western ideals.

JL: Now you are bring judgmental and branding us with your fleeting generalization. We are the modern generation of Indians who like to be democratic in the true sense. We don’t like to be told what to do and when to do – we love to do things our way…

SM: … by compromising on our values and culture?

JL: What values and what culture are you talking about? We don’t need this government to thrust itself upon us… we know don’t need to be forcibly “Hindu-ised” with this culture thingy!

The conversation now had more spectators and heads turned with other passengers listening intently too…

SM: (Not wanting to be argumentative – digresses from the issue) so what do you write about as a journalist?

JL: (Beams, pleased to be talking about her work) I write on rural India, issues concerning women and the under privileged, travel a lot on the countryside.

SM: You are a young knowledgeable person, the nation needs citizens like you to set an example by contributing to its progress. Glad to know of your writing works… so what do you write about?

JL: I highlight their misery and how the government has turned a blind eye by promising big before the elections and now catering to the large corporate – we are doomed, the poor are getting poorer and committing suicides in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Our PM is busy touring the world has no time for these issues.

SM: Oh, you are back to your pet peeve – bashing the PM and his Govt. Isn’t this government just a year old and the poverty and the poor conditions prevalent for decades with successive governments having done little to improve? Have you ever been to villages in Karnataka and highlighted the farmer suicides there?

JL: Are you a RSS guy? A sort of Congress basher?

SM: I am a law abiding Indian citizen, a voter without a bias towards caste, creed, religion or any political leaning. I expect the press to do its role of being a watchdog without being biased and expect it to be objective in reporting. I find your question very subjective. So what makes you think I am one?

JL: (Glances at the magazine cover) Ok, let’s leave it there.

SM: Ok fine… Do you watch movies?

JL: Oh yes… Mostly Hollywood… they make filthy movies here in Bollywood.

SM: …and Telugu, Tamil South movies?

JL: They are all garish, loud and show women in poor light. Cheap quality stuff.

SM: But then I heard Bahubali is an expensive movie with massive settings… on par with Hollywood magnum opuses.

JL: There is too much hype here… I hate them all – glorifying Indian myths with over the top masculine dominated stories.

SM: Hmmm…well not sure Hollywood was any different, any way what else do you read? Indian authors? Chetan Bhagat?

JL: Oh, I have never read his books, the guy is so jarring and obsessive – a trashy novelist from what I’ve heard about his works.

SM: Are you not on the social media? Did you read his recent column in a newspaper where he called the Modi fans on internet – the so called bhakts – "Frustrated and Complex Ridden Male" who speak poor English and claim to be Modi loyalists?

JL: I’m on Facebook. Oh, he said that? I’m beginning to love this guy. (takes notes) I will have to do an interview of him for my mag. I should soon read his “best sellers” too! Thanks for that ‘lead’ (smiles)

SM: …and Shobha De? What about her writings – read them ever?

JL: Yuck! Is she a writer? She is one hell of soft porn writer who titillates to sell stuff to voyeuristic regressive Indian men. Shame on being called a woman.

SM: Heard she has been going hammer and tongs over the Shiv Sena and BJP in Mumbai – taking up cudgels against their legislators and making terse remarks over the Government’s initiative to promote Marathi in multiplexes?

JL: Wow! What did she do?

SM: She tweeted - "No more pop corn at multiplexes in Mumbai? Dahi misal and vada pav only. To go better with the Marathi movies at prime time" 

JL: I am impressed, she is right… what a woman. I must follow her on Twitter.

SM: So are you on twitter? Do you use the social media much?

JL: I’m on twitter, but only follow films, film stars and entertainment news - isn’t that all it is about?

SM: It is much more! Have you heard of Shruti Seth, the Hindi actress?

JL: No – who is she? Has she ever acted in any popular film? Must be third grade flop actress… why do you ask?

SM: She made a name for herself through twitter by posting against the PM and his recent project of #SelfieWithDaughter

JL: Well, that sounds interesting – bravo woman – must have been a very right thing to do. What did she say?

SM: She criticized the PM and invited the wrath of the twitter users who felt it was insulting to be critical of a ‘beautiful’ online initiative – she ended up calling the abuse and played the victim card… she is now popular.

JL: Must follow her. Twitter must be a wonderful place to be in.

SM: As a journalist what’s your opinion on Sagarika Ghose?

JL: Does drab boring stories, very predictable… loud and irritating. Got to the top using her Dad’s connection. Bleh!

SM: On Twitter she is a revelation. Makes fleeting comments against Narendra Modi, mostly very inept juvenile observations. I feel she does them to basically invite the negative comments from the PM’s supporters and then as usual play the victim.

JL: Amazing, no wonder… she comes from a rich lineage and has to be right – I guess I will soon be more active on twitter. Tell me more… some more interesting people to follow.

SM: I am sure you will be ‘impressed’ with Kavita Krishnan, Teesta Setalwad, Priyanka Chaturvedi, Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt and a host of Indian TV journalists and of course Ashutosh and other AAP leaders.

JL: You follow them all? So how do you feel being on twitter… must be a great learning experience?

SM: I don’t know how I feel… Yes, I learnt a lot about the modern Indian cynic and ‘What ails India?’ - They call me names: Internet Hindoo, Bhakt, Troll and more…

JL: Good night.

SM: (yawns)… Good night.

------------------------------------------- pic courtesy: internet ------------------------------

Disclaimer: The above is a fictitious conversation..

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