Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Scavengers

"Everyone must be his own scavenger"

-Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi-

My two cents to Baapu today, the only thing he can do is this, leap out of this beautiful street art and do the needful. I have been commuting through Bannerghatta Road of Bangalore for the past two years; and I must say that once upon a time this place looked a tad bit better. This is somewhere on the five hundred metre stretch from Shopper’s Stop to the Jeddimara junction, right on the main road, travelling on this road is as good as getting a breath holding test done to check your cardiopulmonary reserve. I stopped by and clicked a picture today for it is something which perfectly defines our defiance amidst all the celebrations. People have thrown enough garbage for Gandhi to do his part, to be his own scavenger! 

Today on the birth anniversary of Gandhiji and Shastrji our Prime Minister and our government with all the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ wants us to make this unfathomable dream of a clean India come true. Before we catch hold of a broom and pose for a photograph and send it across as requested, well there is a lot of introspection to do.

Every time I pass by this place, I think of the Samaritan who drew this on the wall, I think of his or her effort and of all the people who may see it. I wonder how many of us can figure out the intention behind this art. It is to create a new mindset and to educate people but look at all the garbage around! Ironically ‘Shramdaan’ happens only on days such as today and constructing ’Shouchalyas’ remain only as winsome advices from film stars. A while before I clicked this picture a man was happily taking a leak and a few others were tip toeing around awaiting their turn. Nature calls in the wee hours of morning you see. Civility demanded I turn around and look at the other side, that's the most I could do!

Normally it is impossible to walk on this stretch of the road, with children defecating on the footpath, garbage and filth piled at every twenty feet of distance and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike workers half willingly cleaning and scavenging the area. And mind you this is all on one of the busiest roads of the Garden City and Silicon Valley of India, the situation elsewhere in Bengaluru I bet isn’t any different. I wish the Palike of our city and the people of this locality looked into this matter, at least today. Look at our Baapu smiling on the wall despite what he has been offered! Before we think on what is the best tribute we pay our leaders and country, we as citizens are duty bound to sustain what we have already been provided with, knowledge or amenities. Somehow in India, this never seems to happen. Lakhs of villages and hundreds of cities are now declared Open Defecation Free. Bless the data and statistics, let us include them in our bag of achievements. All the advertisements and campaigns in fact are nothing but a veil of development; our Indianness is here to stay for a long time to come. 

So what am I complaining about? Well I could have gone ahead with an enthusiastic team today [of which there is no dearth especially on such occasions!] to clean this place and sent a picture to Modiji, put it up on social media and all. You know with the masks and caps and tees and boots and brooms in hand but which fellow Indian can assure me that after a couple of months this place will not bear the brunt again? I cannot wait till the next Gandhi Jayanthi or any other Jayanthi for that matter to go ahead and clean my Bengaluru. I am writing this with a larger issue in mind, of personal hygiene and a sense of personal health. One cannot expect one’s neighbour to come and scoop up what one throws on the road. Unless every individual realizes that his own cleanliness comes before his own happiness and somebody else's too, all community efforts are futile. Let godliness stay where it wants, to each his own. When it comes to cleanliness, nobody can better our lives. We have to do it ourselves, it's a responsibility which is strictly personal, just like one's belief.


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Monday, September 12, 2016

The Water

Water Water burning bright,
In the States of this fight;
What mortal hand or eye,
Could decide your flow?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine cries?
On what fields dare they grow?
What the hand, dare can plough?

And what court, & dam wide,
Could twist the sinews of thy tide?
And when thy valleys go dry
What good strike? O’ Nature my!

What the people? What the pain,
You do ooze through their vein?
What the dispute? what lost cause,
Dare these futile fickle laws!

When the spring ebbs underground
And water’d this earth love bound
Did you think of this day to see?
Did you descend the hills to get free?

Water Water burning bright,
In the States of this fight;
What mortal hand or eye,
Could decide your flow?


 -Inspired by William Blake's 'The Tyger', for my city Bengaluru is burning bright today :-(

Monday, September 5, 2016

Of Grass And God

When there is a festive occasion at home and my folks are busy putting things in order I have this habit of asking questions about the procedures that are being followed so fervently. They always answer them with a lot of patience, accepting or refuting their explanations thankfully is up to me. Today is Ganesha Chowthi, the fourth day of Shuklapaksha of Bhadrapada celebrated with much grandeur across the country to honour Ganesha's birthday, and like any other Indian God he has his special requirements. Twenty one seems to be his favourite number. Twenty one names, twenty one flowers, twenty one leaves and twenty one sit ups. I had returned home from the hospital this morning and the first thing Amma reminds me to do is this customary exercise, so holding my ears with crossed hands and reciting this sloka I began.

"Benaka benaka...
Inthopuva Sri Siddhi Vinayaka
Devara padakke namo namasthe!"

Up and down, twenty one times!

“Why ‘Garike’ hullu Amma?”

I asked looking at the fresh green grass that was offered to him and as always was thinking of something else.

“Governments rise and fall, machines rust away, great buildings crumble, but mountains still stand, rivers flow to the sea and the earth is clothed in grass and verdure. Nature gives. And takes away. And gives again...”

So writes Ruskin Bond in his book‘The Book of Nature’. And here we were offering the same grass to God. A friend of mine had opined over a conversation just yesterday ’Nature is God’ and that echoed strongly now.

There are two versions to the story behind Ganesha’s special liking towards this grass. Apparently an Apsara in heaven wanted to marry him and she disturbed his meditation, he declined her proposal and in return she cursed him. He started having some burning sensation on his forehead and this grass came to his rescue. The second story is more interesting, Ganesha devoured a demon named Analasura who was troubling Yamaloka. This demon had the power to emit fire, so when he ended up in Ganesha’s stomach he gave him hell of a time. Thousands of sages offered this grass to Ganesha which reduced his discomfort. And therefore it is concluded that if you were ever to give Ganesha one thing, it has to be this ‘Garike hullu’.

Mythical I know but this was not what Amma told me today. She looked at me with some sort of amusement, it was more than the gratification she got because I was listening to her like every year.

“Hmmm…because he has an elephant head right and elephants are herbivores…they love eating grass…what Zoology have you learnt in school Oppi! Now go eat the Kadubu I have made!” she said and continued her effort to please Ganesha.

She heard the conflict in my head, maybe.