Words!

Throw and they are called just stones… arrange and they become forts! Mightier than the might of the most!

Can we say the same thing about alphabets that make words? They know no language bar. They know no meaning. They know no boundaries. They know no atrocities. No crime. Nothing.

When I was a child, I learnt A for apple, B for ball and C for cow. But today, children are learning some thing else. A is for Adarsh, B is for blast, R is for rape, M is for money and D is for… well you know who. I wonder if the alphabet ‘C’ ever realized that C is for Care as much as for Corruption, will C be willing to be a part of that word? The answer is no… No to this new language of the world order!

Alphabets when arranged properly make words that make good sense.  Words when arranged properly make good stories, poetry, great articles of historical magnificence. Words when gathered and spoken or written correctly create knowledge, create wisdom, create cultures. But when arranged wrongly? they create scathing speeches, lewd remarks, threatening demands, warnings, corruptions and inharmonious living conditions. The same words, the same 26 letters but different significances.

We all are alphabets and our cultures and customs the words forming out of them. Arrange every thing in proper order called a society and they create peace. Jumble them and they create a difference, a corruption, a bribe, a killing, a menace, an uprising, a war, an end. Same people, same society, different mentalities and different end results.

Rose when you spell wrongly becomes Sore. Just the order matters.

Say no to corruption. Don’t bribe or accept bribe. Support righteousness and stay with it. Be polite with the fellow world men. Don’t spread hatred. Difference between a Ram, a Mohammad, a Peter and a Nanak is just the name. After all, they all have two eyes, two hands, two legs and one heart. Jai Hind!

This post is in response to a tag by Pallavi, Prateek and the original tag from Cyber Nag.

Addendum: For all those who support drive against corruption, please visit and register yourself at the website of ‘India against corruption.’ I hope this initiative spells the change.

Traffic Rules!

… and ladies and gentlemen I’m going to teach you some traffic rules. The post will be insightful and will comprehend your judgement about the traffic on Indian roads and more importantly the traffic sense of Indians.

  • The mirrors on the sides of the vehicles are meant to see the road behind that your car has covered. Mind you, to see the road behind and not the vehicles on the road that may approach you while you are blindly taking a turn in the middle of the road.
  • The no parking signs are meant for you to understand that parking over here is compulsory.
  • You are absolutely right in believing that even the cars and bikes talk to each other when they are in a gathering (read traffic jams). For how else will you justify the blowing of horns?
  • The broken white lines on the highway are not meant to mark the lanes. They are meant so that you can try zig zag drive between the broke white lane, especially if you are a biker.
  • Helmet is not a protective headgear but a fancy cap. Most helmet designs justify this point.
  • The red lights on the signal, especially when they are on late night or early morning are meant for decoration purposes and not for control of traffic.
  • The foot paths are meant either for the road side vendors when in a market or for bikers to ride on it when on a busy jammed road. They are not meant for walking.
  • If you happen to brush another vehicle in traffic, it is important that you settle the score then and there without worrying about the ensuing traffic jam behind you.
  • The ascend or descend of the flyovers are meant for the buses to stop and offload passengers. If there are pileups behind or bottle necks on the other two lanes, it is not their headache.

Few more rules coming up as soon as I discover them. If you know any, let me know and I will put it in y rule book.

Cheers!

72: Punerva

It was now beginning to pain a little bit. But she was not thinking about it. As always, her mind was wandering else where. She had made this compromise with herself. Every time she was on the job, it was important for her to think of all the good things. And she was trying it hard to do just that. As the activity became little fierce, she gripped the side of the cot tightly with one hand while digging her fingernails on his shoulder with the other. He responded with quick and hard strokes before letting out a cry… and then he fell limp on her body. It was over… for now.

Punerva hadn’t chosen this life. It was thrust upon her. She had faint memories of her childhood. She was one of the victim of the racially motivated massacre in Bhagalpur, Bihar. Unfortunately, she was saved. Along with few others, the five year old kid was tossed from centre to corner before the country forgot about them. That is when Vaijayanthi took the girls under her stride. She ran a brothel in Erode and, during her younger days, was the most popular face in the red light area. Vaijayanthi would occasionally pick up some girls from the streets and raise them at her old mansion. There she would raise them as her own kids. They had teachers to teach them, good clothes to wear and most importantly they had food and shelter. But every one knew what was their future going to be. Often half of them ran away while only few stayed and obliged to Vaijayanthi’s demands. Punerva was one of them. She had no one to go back to. It was a cruel world outside. Besides all she had to do was make some compromises.

“You were very good Pannu…” said the man as he tried to come close to her again.

“Get lost you limp. Just pay your money and leave!” Punerva curtly replied as she got up and walked inside the bathroom.

Staring at her naked body in the mirror, Punerva thought she was out of shape for a 23 year old. But she had never had a need or time to work on her body. It was always some one else who worked on her. It had been 6 years since the first time… and the memories of the first encounter were still fresh in her minds. Vaijayanthi, who had taken care of her for 12 years had sold the pretty virgin to two businessmen for a sum of 30,000. As the sound of flipping of new notes grew louder, Punerva’s agony and pain grew deeper and colder by the day. In all these 6 years, she had met innumerable devils who paid to use her as a machine that satisfied their need, lust!

But then some thing happened few weeks back, which Punerva did not expect. That evening, Vaijayanthi told her to be ready for a special guest from Chennai. She got ready as usual, expecting a wealthy businessman in his middle age. But she was surprised to see a rather timid looking young man entering her room. He looked scared from the moment he entered in. Punerva’s second surprise came when the guy turned his gaze away from her half naked body. She was used to desperate people who wanted he naked immediately. And here was a guy who stole his gaze away from her. She asked him if he was okay. He didn’t respond. Punerva tried going near him. But he moved further away. 5 minutes later, the guy said some thing, which took her by surprise. Since then she had been trying to locate him. Brothels generally don’t keep contact details of their clients, unless they are esteemed. So there was no way Punerva could reach him again. Days became weeks and she got on with her life again, still hoping to meet him once

On a lazy Sunday morning, another girl Latha came running with an advertisement in her hand. A large silk emporium from Chennai had opened their branch in the new mall in Erode. They were giving away inaugural discounts. The offer was too exciting and the girls decided to visit the showroom in the evening. Little did Punerva know that it was going to be a memorable evening. As they entered the showroom, she met her fourth surprise associated with the same guy. He was sitting right on the cash counter and busy making bills.

“Hello…” she said rather loudly, “Nice to see you again.”

But it seemed the guy did not like being identified. He nervously got up and started going inside the shop, as if he was trying to hide himself from her. Punerva followed him

“Hello mister, excuse me! Did you not recognise me?”

“Yes I did.” He said, looking very nervous. “But what do you want now?”

“Oh nothing. I had been thinking about you and I just wanted to…”

“What you wanted money? I thought so. Alright but not here.” He said interrupting her.

“Money? No No… actually I just wanted to talk to you. You are…” He was surprising Punerva again.

“Alright… but not here.” He signalled some one to man the cash counter. Then turned to Punerva and said, “Come with me!”

Since the mall was newly constructed, many shops were still empty. Making sure that no one was looking at them, he found one with half of the shutter open and took Punerva inside.

“Look! I’m the only son of a reputed business family. Coming to you that day was my mistake. I was forced to do that by my friends as I’m getting married in few months. But I didn’t do any thing wrong with you, did I? So why are you black mailing me?”

“No sir I’m not. In fact I was…”

“See it is fine. If you want money, I can help you with some. But only some. Please understand that I’m a simple guy who fears the society image, family, reputation a lot. I cant face the wrath of all. Besides, I can’t be be spotted talking to a prostitute here. So you please…”

“Hmmm, I see! Now I understand why you were so reluctant that day. I should have understood on the same day. I was fool to think that you were different. You blinded me with your dialogue. Do you remember? You had said why do I spoil myself with this flesh trade when there are other better things to do in life. Let me tell you mister that I did not choose to be what I am today. I have my own share of agonies. But what will you do listening to them? After all you have made a conclusion that I’m a prostitute and I’m not worth talking or spending time with. Par sahab, humein bhi seedhi sadhi zindagi jeene ka haq hai. Even you are a businessman. Probably you wanted to be a pilot. But you still are a businessman today because it is your family profession. May be your father forced this on to you. It is no different for me. I was also forced onto it. But I don’t blame my family, I don’t have one. I blame people like you who have forced themselves onto me time and again. They came, threw money and used me as a machine to satisfy their lust. Yes mister, I am a victim of lust of people like you. You guys have torn me to shreds and will continue to ruin me. You all are just…”

“What is your name?” Interrupted the guy. He was watching her all along the conversation. His expressions changed with every sentence of Punerva.

“Huh? Why?”

“Tell me… I want to know” he said as he pulled out his mobile phone.

“Punerva.”

“Full name?” He said again as he took a picture of her in his mobile phone.

“Do you think I have a family name? Anyway, I have had enough. Go and complain, if you feel so. Good bye mister, whoever you are!” said Punerva rather strongly as she walked away from the guy. He followed her and kept watching until she disappeared at the end of the corridor. She didn’t turn.

Few months later, Punerva got a letter on her name with Vaijayanthi. Thankfully Vaijayanthi was not around and she got to open it herself. It contained two documents. One of them was a fixed deposit certificate. Some one had deposited 5 lacs on her name in the State Bank of Travancore. It also had her picture, which she immediately recognized. The other was a hand written letter. It read…

“Hi Punerva,

This is Balamurugan Shanmugam. I’m sorry I did not get a chance to introduce myself to you. I’m the same guy who met you in the Chennai silk emporium. I too have been thinking about you since you left that day. I did not have courage to come and meet you or call you. As I had said that day, I’m a family fearing, society fearing guy who cares a lot about his and his family’s reputation in the public. I’m not brave enough to do some thing noble and save a prostitute’s life, although I’d love to do that. But I had to do some thing for you.

So I’m sending this fixed deposit on your name. I’ve signed on your behalf. But it is easy and you can replicate. And please don’t think that I’m trying to help you financially. There are people out there who want to pay money and buy you to satisfy their lust. This is my small attempt to protect you from them. By this money, even if I can buy the lust of 1000 Balamurugans like me, I’ll feel I have achieved my life’s objective.

You are a nice girl Punerva. Thankfully we didn’t do any thing that day. But now I wish if we had done it. The memories you gave me are not enough.

Yours, Bala”

Foot note: This story is a tribute to all sex workers who have compromised their lives to satisfy the demons in us. But I hope we stop some day and some where.

R A N D O M : Insolence

Chill out

I’m quoting an incidence from my past. I was about 15 and half years of age. And I had this friend who was about a year younger to me. We used to chill out a lot and do, what we call these days, time pass. Although my junior, he had an influence on me. We both were athletes. But he was better. Add to that he was a good singer and had a distinctive style, which had lot of girls hovering around him. So became a part of his fan following, which later developed into a good friendship.

There was also this female in my class and a very good friend as well. But I never thought about her as a potential girlfriend. In fact, 15 some thing was not an age for me to think about it. But one day, he infused an idea inside my brain. The idea cultivated for few months and finally I proposed that girl on my sixteenth birthday. Continue reading

Help Me PLEASE!!!

Help!

Image by Dimitri N. via Flickr

Before you courteously offer some help to me, let me clarify that I’m not looking for help. Perhaps this post is about people who keep seeking help from others, mostly emotional help. I’m sure you will comprehend what I intend to say here and may have sought or offered help to people who keep running back to you for some reason or the other.

I think I’m naturally very rude. The way I talk ‘hurts’ people. But my wife isn’t like that. She enjoys these occasional bursts of compassion and charity. So no wonder the list of people seeking her blessings is much longer. For example yesterday one of her recently added friend cum blessing seeker called her up to tell her that his new found room mates were not treating him well. Now what has my wife got to do with it? I’ll tell you (patience is requested). She had helped this guy, who is apparently her colleague, to thwart his boss’s plan to expel him from his project by drafting a good email for him. And why did she do that? Because one day this guy sat besides her and opened his can of worms (read problems), just like that. That email was sent to the Vice President of the company and did wonders for the guy. Since then, every time he calls her or meets her, he keeps talking about some new problem. Finally my wife recently realised that he is sort of a cry baby (no wonder why his room mates dont treat him properly. I’d have beaten him. Anyway…) and now she has started ignoring him. Continue reading

Suspicions, Then and Now

I was taking an ‘after dinner’ stroll yesterday night when I met another guy who stays in my housing complex. He probably owns a 3BHK apartment in another building. But I saw him drive in on his motor bike along with his family (wife and son). I wondered why; so I casually asked, “Kya Prashant, aaj bike pe?” He smiled at me and said, “Haan, kyunki mere paas car nahi hai. Kaha is mehengaai ki jamane mein gaadi wadi.” It was actually surprising for me to know that he doesn’t own a car. I said, “Kya paka raha hai yaar.” to which he replied, “Nahi Nahi, sahi mein…”

I remember when my father bought his first car. In his generation, he was a first person to buy a car in both my paternal and maternal side. Although only a Maruti 800, it gave all of us a reason to boast our superlative expression. Owning a 4 wheeler almost 15 years back was indeed a thing to be proud of, at least in my town. It attracted lot of jealous glances from people known to us and also suspicion from people not so known. People thought where the money to maintain the car came from. I still enjoyed getting ‘dropped’ at places important to me then (like a friend’s birthday party, school functions) despite having an option to use my moped. And often relatives asked favours from my father in cases of emergency. But slowly, the car seized to be a luxury. Today almost all relatives have one at least.

When I go for a walk in our housing premises, I see a sea of cars. I’m sure there are more cars than trees in my compound. So when I hear some one saying he can not afford a car, it surprises me. And it adds  fuel to a suspicion, when the person who just told you about not being able to afford a car is actually an owner of a luxurious 3BHK apartment. Well… times have changed. 15-20 years ago an apartment dweller with a car was looked at with a suspicion. Today, the situation is other way round.    🙂

Life Beyond a Rat Race

I have written this article for VoiCE blog. You can find the original article here.

Ever wondered why you are one of those people who are caught in the race? You are an engineer. You did your graduation in Computer Science/ Civil/ Electrical/ Whatever from one of the many ‘very good’ colleges in the country. You completed your graduation copying journals from your seniors and projects from Google. You always dreamt of big things and yet appeared for the campus interviews. Probably you were the lucky one to get selected early or you were the one who scraped through. You joined an IT major and was one of the 25000 candidates selected that year to do an outsourced job. And then? You joined the rat race to appraisals, on-site opportunities, promotions and buying a flat… did you? Does it hurt to be in the rat race?

I’m a Civil Engineer. But I never built any thing more than a retaining wall 8 years ago. I’m also an MBA. But none of my job profiles offered me to ‘manage’ and ‘grow’ some thing until lately when I took the reigns in my hand. And now I have sat down to write an article for VoiCE, wondering what I did in last 6 years. Was it some thing I always wanted to do? Sadly, the answer is no. I was originally destined to be an Architect. Civil Engineering just happened to me. Peer pressure led me to MBA. When I was still a student of Pune University, I wanted to open a restaurant and had even made a business plan for it. But it didn’t materialize. It took long years for me to reality what I enjoyed the most. And I’m still not on it completely.

The life beyond the so called rat race only begins when we take a small but meaningful journey within us. It is important for us to know what exactly we want to do. For example, I enjoyed writing. I still dream of being a photo journalist. I want to travel around the world, capture different people, different locales, take pictures and write interesting stories about interesting people. I enjoy doing that. But no body made me realize it when I was still in my teens. I was learning structures and bridges when I should have been taking their pictures and writing stories of their makers. I might be earning well today. But some times on a rainy morning, like the ones these days, I don’t get motivated to go back to the same work.

The problem can be any where but within self. In the education system, in our parents, siblings, peers or any one who provokes us to join the rat race. A teen vies for the place in a coveted engineering college because he is told by his parents and relatives in the US that Engineering is the best degree to have. It will earn him a high paying job of a software coder. The guy is not given a chance to think out of his path and imagine a world he probably would have loved to be in. Once in the college, his only motto is to ‘pass’ the exams and grab one of the coveted job opportunities. Some engineers who have no idea of what to do next normally bow to peer pressure and go for a completely unrelated course, a management degree. They all start earning well and then leaving a high paying job to follow one’s dream becomes too much of a risk.

Every one imagines a life beyond a rat race. But hardly any one dares to try and live it. All we need to do it first know what we want and then take steps to do it. Money is secondary. If Edison invented electric bulb because he wanted to earn, he’d have never invented an electric bulb. Do it if your heart says. Do some thing new, some thing better and do it if it is fun. If you are good at it, the money will follow.