Month: November 2015

Dear Planet Earth,

I live in a tall building with many many floors. 35 floors. I stay on the 25th floor. Its very high. I look out from my window and i see the metro and many buildings. The sky is grey and ugly. The trees are downstairs but they are 5 or 6 only. I have a dog. He is a beagle. My friend has a turtle and goldfish but they keep dying. I cannot see stars every night but i know they are there. My mother says my dadu is a star. I play in the park with friends but there are mosquitoes so i have to go home soon. Sometimes i watch tv with my aunty but its very stupid. One time i saw a fat woman and her choti was growing long and then she was putting that choti around another aunty’s neck and they were fighting. I don’t think the director had money to make proper special effects … thats what my father told me.

Today, my father showed me a documentary. Is it true that we are being unkind to you? We are cutting your trees, fighting for your oil, killing all the forests and animals? We are making factories and their poison is going into your lakes and seas? It is also making the air bad? Is that why i cannot see the stars at night? We are doing many bad things and you are giving us ‘time out’ but we are not listening. When i don’t listen to mummy and papa then i get a black mark and i don’t get my sunday treat. You know what it is … i get to go to the big park in Delhi and play with my dog oscar. I fight all the bad men. They hide in the trees so I carry all my guns with me and then i shoot them. I have to protect my mummy and papa. Oscar goes mad in the park. He likes to run around and meet all the other dogs. If i don’t go to the park on sundays i get sad and oscar also is sad. I try to be good so i can go to the park.

If humans are not listening to you then if you punish them they will also listen. My mummy says there are consequences for every action. Its a big word i know very well. If i do and say good things then there are good consequences. If i do and say bad things then there are bad consequences and i have to take responsibility for my actions. So the same thing should happen to adults also. They are big and know so much. Don’t they know if they are doing bad things to you then there will be bad consequences?

I am writing to you because i don’t think you know all this. You should not let people bully you. Or be bad to you. You can give them a black mark and don’t give them their treats. They will also learn that only good actions have good consequences. Please write to me if you are sad or want me to help you. I am very good at fighting bad people. I have to go now. I have to eat so i can become strong and big like my father.

your friend
A small boy with super powers

Dear Diwali Collectorate,

I love this festival. Its pretty. Cheers you up to see all those ugly buildings dressed up in colourful lights and lanterns. That is, till the crackers start up and your members start making their rounds for their annual ‘blessings’.

The knocking on doors begins a week prior to and continues into the week following the actual diwali date. I open the door to be assailed by a WIDE SMILE of the following …. the chowkidar (on behalf of the building security team), the cleaner (on behalf of 2 others), the newspaper delivery boy, the post man (on behalf of 4 others), the kiraana wala, the plumber, the presswala, the dog walker, the window cleaner, the painter, the nanny, the vegetable vendor and anyone I may have, in a moment of weakness, called home for some work. The smile is self explanatory. It means that the light of joy is lighting up the universe and now needs to light up my wallet to expend some green energy, pronto. I feel judged by the amount I hand out as ‘diwali shagun’ irrespective of the fact that i may be privy to their reincarnation for a brief moment at my doorstep … once a year.

There have been some innovations along the years. One that comes to mind is that of a man at the door with the society bill in a thaali. Let’s ignore the fact that its a bill. There is no mithai or deeya in the thaali. There is however a 500 rupee note and a 1000 rupee note, strategically placed in the thali for me to get the message. There is also a list of all society members, their flat numbers and the amount they have donated to the cause. The pressure to compete with the joneses creeps in. There are four things i can do.
1. Put in an amount larger than anyone else in the list to win the love and affection of the security guards and be famed for my generosity
2. In a perverse stroke of genius, give the least amount on the list and wait for people to call me ‘kanjoos’ ‘makhichoos’.
3. Put in the amount paid by the largest common denominator and feel cocooned in this mass mentality … popularly referred to as herd mentality.
4. Refuse to play along and instead help myself to the money in the thaali. I understand that this action may not endear me to you.
Overall, i prefer this direct and brazen approach by your members. There is no second guessing involved. It keeps the collectorate’s dignity intact. It keeps my humour alive. There are no blank stares or a lengthy, silent struggle to comprehend the underlying motive behind the ringing of the doorbell and the wide smile which refuses to waver. The adoring expectation in the eyes of your members fills me with guilt for feeling momentarily mean hearted when instead I should be filled with the desire to serve.

Every year as the festival approaches, I stock up on cash. As inflation increases I find the money in the wallet runs out quicker and I run to the ATM more frequently to keep up with this spirit of giving.

quaking in trepidation as the doorbell rings,
Happy Diwali
A beleaguered building occupant

Dear Builderji,

A big pranaam to you. I’m Krishna Apartments and I’m 6 years old. I am 6 floors in height. 18 apartments in all. No swimming pool. No squash courts. No annexe for parties and celebrations. No gym. Just a small, simple and peaceful building society with all apartments occupied and a view of the large open ground. My occupants are good, law-abiding citizens who bought my flats with their hard-earned money. They enjoyed 5 years of peaceful co-existence. But that’s all in the past.

Now, i have a new neighbour. Tall, grand, fancy with two storeys of car parking, two squash courts, an entertainment centre, a well equipped gym, a beautiful foyer with security cams and finger recognition software for members. They even have a cafeteria. Do i sound envious? Maybe a little but more than envious I’m feeling stifled, claustrophobic and unhappy. My inhabitants have all been taken by surprise by your 18 floor monstrosity because today 6 of the 18 families have no sunlight in their homes. Their windows look out at the building wall of your new Hamilton Parade, whatever that means!

I am now surviving under a big, black cloud. Everyone who made a home in me is today looking to abandon me. The family living in flat 102 made a distress sale and left in a hurry because their flat had become too dingy and damp and their daughter’s asthma resurfaced.

I’m writing to you to ask … what did you think when you spotted this plot of land and the government gave you permission to go ahead with your mammoth project? Did you even notice this small 6 storey building that you were about to eclipse with your grand design? Did you stop to consider the families that live here? What this would mean to them or to their daily existence? Who do these people turn to when their homes have just becomes dark, airless boxes? There is no insurance claim available because this cannot be termed a natural disaster or a force majeure. Who do they appeal to? Where do they go? What is their future? Why does no one give a crap?

Who will help?

sincerely,
Krishna Apartments,
crumbling in spirit and yet hoping for a miracle

Dear misguided boy,

Thank you for taking the time to share your deep and profound thoughts on how women should conduct themselves.

I admit that I’m luckier than your sisters. My parents never made me feel less than my brothers.

I teach in a co-ed college. I see lots of boys like you. Spoilt. Angry. Confused. Filled with hate and resentment. But then, I also see some boys who respect, love and encourage the women in their lives.

Women will no longer be packed into your little boxes and hidden away so you can feel superior. Change is here. Some have embraced it. Some are fighting it tooth and nail.

You go ahead and write condescending letters, ok?

thanking you for your concern. And in sympathy for your sisters.

teacher didi and not ‘Oye ladki’

Oye ladki, psssssssst!

Wearing jeans and sleeveless and walking alone. So shameless. Your parents never taught you anything or what? Talking freely with boys. Driving your scootie. Spending money. You think you are better than us kya?

My sisters toh cannot eat also before me. I get the first chai. I get breakfast pehle, pitaji ke saath… phir kuch bachta hai toh they get. I feel little bad but I’m the son. They don’t go to school. I go to school. My sister wants to study. Ha Ha. Stupid. Study karke what she will do? She has to marry only. Now she must help my mother in the house. Learn to cook and clean. Varna shaadi bhi nahi hogi and our family’s nose will get cut off.

Aaj kal some problem is there. Girls are speaking English and smoking. It looks so bad. This is not our culture. What about samaaj? You have no sharam or what?

You get raped and everyone blames us!

If you have a boyfriend and wear cheap clothes then you are only asking for it. Why you are crying then? Humne bola tha kya idhar udhar ghoomne ko? For years it is like this only. Men will be on top. Women will make khaana.

Some @#% girls are wanting to be independent. They are going to police chowkies and complaining against family members and rapists and stealers. No izzat only. No brains. Khaali phokat creating problem. Now everyone is thinking so much rape is happening in India. Arre Rape is always happening. You don’t go and wash your ganda kapda in hari bhari society! You just keep quiet. People will respect you more. Family will be proud of you ki ghar ki baat ghar mein rakhi. Everyone is happy. Why to give tension? Police also has kam numbers to report. India shining.

That is why I feel very proud of some big politicians and high status wale log. They are role model. Samajhdari ki baat karte hain but so many people are making tamasha. Why? Can’t listen to right things? Always too much question. Why why why … kya why why why?!

Chup.

Choti si baat … faltu mein making badi baat.

wanting best for you. Always. but try to understand. ok?

locality ke saare boy log ki taraf se

Dear Intolerance,

You’re quite a slime, you know.

What are you doing in our country? What place is there for you with your ‘My way or the highway’, ‘Divide and rule’ and ‘I know best’ attitude?

You have snuck in casually and brazenly without a by your leave.

The rate at which you go about your daily chores, Mera bharat mahaan will soon be replaced by mera bharat kahaan. Will you rejoice then?

Please don’t try our tolerance too much.

With growing intolerance for your ways,

concerned, peace loving citizens

Dear Visitors,

I await with dread the incoming traffic today of all nature of emissions destined to take place in my space. Its strange but i rarely feel clean and i never feel any respite from filth. I’ve been mulling over my predicament and figured that its time i spoke out. I’m ubiquitous, almost. Airports, railway stations, bus stands, market places, multiplexes, highways, towns, cities, some villages, the list is endless. My presence is necessary and mandatory but basic respect unfortunately, eludes me.

As a public shauchalaya i feel abused and angry. My job is to be welcoming, clean and a haven for those who desperately seek release. I would like to take pride in what i do but I’m dependent on the management which seems to be managing every thing else other than its KRA.

The management does not have the basic material required to keep me spic and span. Not even cheap disinfectant.
They don’t have enough to hire cleaners so stains grow and residual matter collects and the rot sets in.
There is no maintenance provision so if the tank leaks or the tiles are coming apart … so be it.
There is no provision for hygiene education so most of the management and the public remain ignorant and, if i may say so … unwashed.

I’m tired of my own stench. You walk in and turn up your nose but i have to live in it!

Then the public walks in. Some of you don’t seem to know what a WC is meant for. It is definitely not a ladder with a hole on the top. Its a seat. Please do NOT climb on the WC and release your innards all over the place. Its offensive.

Sometimes, I’m able to offer tissues and wipes and all things nice. Sometimes, i can barely offer water. In all cases, it should not stop you from doing the right thing by yourself … and that is to follow basic hygiene.

There is something called a flush. I understand you cannot do anything if there is no water … but at least check once! The function of the flush is to pour a whole lot of water down the drain so the sewage gets carried along and the next person who comes to rest their ass is not confronted by a large turd or some floaters. I have, however, noted that an unflushed toilet does not deter some people …. they come right along and happily add to the collection. So now we have a pile up. Flies start buzzing and i have a whole new situation to deal with … the public no longer walks in. Stray animals do. All of you have by now contributed efficiently to converting me into a disease plaza. Which one would you like to rent today … i have on offer gastrointestinal afflictions, dysentry, bird flu, dengue …

You see where this is going?

Its not going in your favour and that’s for sure! If you want a swachch bharat … please get off the seat, pull the flush and wash your hands … for starters.

Reprovingly yours,

the shauchalaya union