A World Remade…

In a world remade….

No mosques, no churches, no temples…

Would define religion…

‘Neath the heaven…

Just the heads would bow…

In a complete surrender!

In a world remade….

No discord, no fences, no borders…

Would provoke a war…

‘Neath the stars…

Just the eyes would rest…

In a peaceful slumber!

In a world remade…

No attire would curb her freedom…

No act would defile her being…

No dogmas would chastise her dream…

No hypocrites would preach her morals…

There would be just….

Some compassion to hold her hands..

Some encouragement to let her fly…

Some love to let her grow…

Some faith to restore her pride….

And some belief…

To let her rejoice her existence!

In a world remade….

None would beg and none would steal…

None would rape and none would kill…

‘Neath the warm sun…

Just the hands would join…

Brotherhood and contentment would prevail!

In a world remade….

No epidemic, no famine, no flood….

Would wipe humanity from the world….

‘Neath the blue skies…

In bliss would all thrive!

Oh!! In my world remade…

Love will bloom, Virtue will merit

None poor, none rich

Just the equal souls…

To celebrate the freedom…

Of Body, Mind and Spirit!!

Years ago Sri Rabindranath Tagore wrote the beautiful lines…..

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high…

Where knowledge is free….

Where the world has not been broken into fragments…”

It still holds true… such a world  is still desired…It still is a dream. If I were to create a world, yes, I would want the human race to have a knowledge which abhors wars, discrimination, barbarism,  abuse, inhumanity, jealousy, bigotry…..I would make a world where there would not be bribery, injustice, favoritism….all would live with dignity, with their heads held high, with pride, without any fear….There would be truth, honesty, logic, reasoning, bravery, respect, reverence, camaraderie….

There would be a story for each and everyone and like a fairytale, all stories will end in ‘Happily Ever After’…….Yes!! That would be world remade by me.

 

india-today-conclave-2015-blogadda“I am participating in the #TheWorldRemade activity at BlogAdda in association with India Today #Conclave15 “.

 

 

 

Related Articles:

http://danview.net/world-remade/

http://aayeshashewholives.blogspot.in/2015/02/the-world-remade-my-style.html

http://allaboutstyleandlove.blogspot.in/2015/02/remaking-world.html

http://lifeisfun-sang.blogspot.in/2015/02/just-idea.html

https://madhusudanrao.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/worldpartdeux/

http://amithasingh.blogspot.com/2015/02/so-heres-world-remade.html

http://stickerstories.blogspot.in/2015/02/the-world-remade-journey-to-utopia.html

Posted in Life, poem | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Why I did not fall in love with New York; the city that never sleeps…..

Of course! I was a wide-eyed  first time visitor to New York and pretty excited to see all the regular touristy spots the city had to offer. I had three days at my disposal for all the sight-seeing.

New York skyline

New York consists of five boroughs….. Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and the Staten Island. Of all boroughs, Manhattan is not only the most densely populated but also mostly the area which people are referring  to when they talk about being in  New York !

Every day after having a filling breakfast at our hotel in Newark, New Jersey, we would board the subway from Pennsylvania Station to midtown Manhattan. It took all of 30 to 35 minutes from buying the ticket, boarding the train to getting down at Manhattan station.

On our third day in the city, at the Museum of City of New York we chatted with this smart old woman at the help desk:

Old woman : Visiting for the first time? You stay here in New York?

Me: No, we are at vacation here.

Old woman: Oh okay where are you coming from?

Me: India….

Old woman: Oh wow, all the way from India? So, Did you like New York?”

Me(little carefully…lest I upset her): Umm…its er…fast.

Old woman: Oh! you are telling me?…This place is changing. It is deteriorating…too much crowd, too much of everything …earlier it was nice ….I have seen it change having grown up here…

So despite the Empire state, Chrysler Tower, Guggenheim Museum, MOMA, Rockefeller Centre, WTC  Freedom tower, the Statue of Liberty, United nations headquarters, Wall Street, Times Square, Central park, the huge glamorous stores of Macy’s, Rado, Gucci, Tag Heuer, Nike, Rolex, Armani (phew….you name it and it is there!!)…….Why did I not fall in love with New York?

Reason 1: They don’t talk much!!

Though I found the Americans very helpful always but what surprised me was that everyday during the 20-25 minutes ride in subway nobody spoke!! Every person on the train either had a newspaper or earphones stuck in their ears. The commuters always looked tired and sleepy. Some spoke softly on their phones but not to the person nearby.

The three of us…. my husband, my 11 yrs old daughter and me…..were overly conscious and spoke too softly to discuss the day’s itinerary. We were nervous that people would stare at us if we talked …..coz nobody else was talking, not smiling, not acknowledging the presence of others!! It was as good as nobody was on train because the sound which interrupted the silence was only of the recorded announcements….

Now, I have travelled in the local trains of Mumbai too. Agreed, that compared to New York metros, there is overcrowding and cacophony of voices in local trains of Mumbai but then….a strange camaraderie is also forged between the regular commuters of the route…….they offer the seat to the known face before alighting on their stops, they smile, they show concern by asking “Kya bhai, dikhai nahi diye kuch dino se? Sab thik-thak? (How are you? Didn’t see you since few days? All okay?)”…they discuss cricket and politics, they advice, they share newspapers , eatables and sometimes a coin or two too…..and nobody seems to object! A ride in Mumbai local train is not  always relaxing but it sure is entertaining and yet people don’t look as much tired as the New Yorkers.

Though I am not a very talkative person and neither  do I find myself befriending every passer-by but I definitely don’t enjoy travelling with no one to talk to. Afterall ….

“It’s the friends we meet along life’s road who help us appreciate the journey”

 Reason 2: Miles to walk before I sleep!!

Robert Frost must have visited Manhattan at some point before penning the poem!

Manhattan is planned on an extensive grid pattern with streets intersecting the major avenues at right angles. All those streets and avenues crossing each other make up a vast area to cover on foot. People walk, walk and just walk all the time…

Traffic was maddening and flagging a taxi was not only expensive but seemed unnecessary since there was a lot to see. Also the best way to discover a place, they say, is on foot and so there we were observing every billboard, every neon sign, every store and walking from one intersection to other, dodging vehicles, stopping for a bite, evading the tip-expecting street-performers,, visiting museums, theatres…. At some areas as the Freedom Tower of WTC,  due to construction work, vehicles were not allowed… everybody had to walk all the way.

By end of the day we had to walk down to the subway station which again was a long walk. By the time we reached our hotel, we were exhausted and the legs felt like lead.

 Reason 3:It is NOISY!!

Oh yes….. You think of a sound and there it was…. There was a continuous hum in the air… Yellow buses rumbled by carrying school students, the green, red and blue  buses transported thousands of tourists from one stop to other…the yellow taxis and thousands of cars scurried past, ambulances hurried about with a loud hoots, announcements could be heard , sounds from the construction works, the delivery vans, garbage trucks….The tremble and low growl of the subway could be felt and heard through the vibrations as we stood on footpath…

Recently I met a New Yorker who was visiting India. He was enjoying the calm and peaceful  desert camp at Khuri, Rajasthan. As we got talking, he told us of his plans to leave his job in New York and move to quieter parts of the country!

At Times Square , I felt like being trapped in a giant gaming arcade with loud blips and electronic sounds shooting me down…..People rushed past talking on their phones… It was a never ebbing sea of Homo Sapiens….So many soundscapes that it was difficult to  differentiate one sound from other….

By end of the day, the hotel room seemed unnaturally quiet… I could feel the silence! So accustomed are the New Yorkers of these multiple sounds bombarding their eardrums day in and day out that if some day the city sounds stop even for ten minutes, I am sure, they wouldn’t know what to do!!

Reason 4: Electricity

So much electricity!! Even during the day….Times Square was lit up as if Diwali (our festival of lights) or Christmas!! Day time Times Square

Billboards flashing advertisements of all kind of products….cars, lingerie, toys, movies, clothes, electronic goods….I can not even list so many things….I counted about 70 and then lost the count of flashing boards…

lit up...

The night-time New York must be visible from space with so many lights on! The offices in the tall buildings were all lit up even after the working hours….

I like a good night sleep with lights turned off….and had I left the curtains open, I would have never been able to sleep at night because of the lights from the buildings across the street. There are still many villages here in India which do not have electric supply…many cities still suffer long hours of power cuts. If even for a day New York switches off its lights and send it to us somehow… I am guessing, at least hundred of our villages could be lit up.

Reason 5: Too many tall buildings

me craning to see the buildings

Yep! that is me craning my neck to see the sky scrapers piercing the sky…..

Sure, I too love all that steel and glass facades, the sheer verticality, the challenge of designing a building that kisses the clouds but…only when there are a few of them, only when I can still see the skies above, only when the sun can spread its warmth on the ground below, only when I do not feel like sandwiched between two too huge rectangular blocks!

I do appreciate the architecture and engineering behind tall buildings but the street was full of too many tall buildings trying to surpass each other and yet all looked the same with their glass cladding….they were huge rectangular glass boxes with artificial light and ventillation…where was the beauty? Where was the fresh air to breathe? It was more claustrophobic and over intimidating, and not pleasing!

Reason 6: Expensive

You bet it is! New York is world’s fifth most expensive city. Taxis were expensive, we walked to avoid shelling out dollars… restaurants were expensive, we avoided stepping into one and ate pizza slices most of the time for our stay and chose to eat the complimentary breakfast at our hotel before venturing in the city.

May be I found it expensive because of being a tourist but what I could sum up after chatting up with a few friends who moved from New York was that rents for smallest of rooms even without window was a lot and everyday living in the city was expensive.

While writing these reasons of my not liking New York , I came across some thoughts on New York by Ryan Holiday.  Though I was pretty surprised after reading his version of New York but I am sure that if ever given a choice and opportunity to choose between my small city in India and New York , I would prefer my much smaller and quieter city….

Posted in American Holiday, Travel Tales | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

THE WEDDING

This is my first attempt at writing light hearted fiction…..I sent it to a magazine and in a story competition but never heard back from either of them. I now am not sure whether it is worth reading by anybody and hopefully it won’t hurt someone’s feelings.

 Please let me know opinions…

 THE WEDDING

“Is something wrong darling?” asked Sujata patting Ananya’s head.

Sujata adored her daughter. Her daughter lazed on bed with a dazed look or so Sujata thought. Ananya had returned from college but was a little quiet and wasn’t her chirpy self as always. She was a beautiful girl with rich black silky hair that just about reached her waist. With a height of five feet six inches, a slim figure, large chocolate-brown eyes and a heart melting smile she already attracted prospective suitors. Of course the offers for marriage had been turned down as Ananya still had few more months at college to complete her graduation.

Sujata prided herself in raising a well-behaved, compassionate and intelligent daughter who was also aware of all traditions of a Maharashtrian Brahmin family yet was a new age girl. A firm believer in honouring and following one’s traditions, Sujata had never shied away from change. She accepted some new concepts and ideas of younger generation but reserved her opinions on cultural and social behaviour. She had for some years dedicated herself as a primary teacher in a nearby school but refused to take on the post of principal. She now free-lanced as a voice-over artist on a radio channel.

Having worked with children for many years in school Sujata could make a fair guess if something was amiss. She noticed Ananya blush at being asked such a simple question but she kept to herself her concerns hoping her daughter would eventually confide in her.

“Why do you ask this, Ma?” probed Ananya.

“Arre baba! Just like that. You aren’t your bubbly self today and seem a little lost….distracted. And moms just know!!”

“Nah, Ma! Nothing is wrong….you worry unnecessarily. I just have a lot of assignments to deal with, so off you go……let me get on with my work.”

Ananya smiled sheepishly at the mirror amazing at her mother’s perceptiveness. But how to tell your mother about your first ever kiss, wondered Ananya. “Of course, you don’t tell her, dumb-head!!” answered her reflection from the mirror.

Sujata saw her daughter with a dreamy look and a blush more often now and wondered if her mind was conjuring up images or whether something was really going on in her daughter’s life? She had this niggling nagging feeling that something was just not right.

“Oh! Heavens! Has she fallen in love or something….Is she ….Oh! No, no…….Good Indian girls don’t indulge in sex before marriage….. certainly not MY daughter! Why am I even thinking on these lines….it sure is my imagination?”

Sujata had wondered aloud to her husband. “Don’t you feel Anu has changed in last few months? She seems quieter these days.”

“Arre….. You must be thankful that our daughter is calmer and not doing wild things like other kids of her age. And what do you expect from a twenty-one year old….. Maybe she is thinking about her career, now that college will end in few months. Don’t you want her to be responsible now?”

Sujata kept hoping that her daughter would confide in her as months rolled by. Her curiosity was finally put to rest one day when Ananya returned from college and hugged her tightly and just like that blurted….. “Ma, I am in love and we want to get married soon after college.”

Sujata’s heart was racing and she could manage only a “Who?”

“Harjit” said Ananya trying to gauge her mother’s reaction.

“Punjabi family? Will you be able to adjust? Why soon after college? Don’t you both want to get some jobs first? How will your home run?”

“Whoa…Mom, slow down! So you are not annoyed?”

“Are you …. Did you… Have you had  physical relationship with Harjit?”

“Mooooom!! Easy mom…. Okay…..not yet, but we have kissed.”

“Anu….!! We don’t do…!” Sujata was so much in anguish. Her daughter…..How can her daughter have forgotten the traditions, culture?

“Oh! Mom…it’s just a kiss…. It’s not like I am pregnant and all! So, the culture traditions are all intact…. don’t you worry. And, what is this … we don’t do? How does our country’s population increase if we don’t do?” Ananya was getting irritated.

“Aren’t you glad that we are seeking parental consent and not running away?” Yes! Sujata was definitely glad about that.

It was not the ‘inter-caste’ marriage that was pinching Sujata but the fact that her daughter had kissed before marriage. She never was against two people of different communities coming together through a marriage as long as both were equally committed and belonged to well-educated cultured families. She believed that the two people who married each other should respect each others’ culture and adjust accordingly for the marriage to survive. She however was absolutely against any sort of physical intimacy before marriage and considered it a western world influence……a not “Indian culture”. But what now had been done could not be undone, so with a sigh she accepted this new development in their life. She had a lot of preparation to do now for the upcoming wedding.

Sujata got down to making a list of things to be done for the wedding. She had decided to marry off her daughter in style. “But what if Harjit’s family wanted a Punjabi wedding? How will we accommodate the rituals of both communities in the marriage?” she wondered. The families hadn’t yet met and Sujata was little concerned that the other side had not shown any interest in meeting the prospective bride and her family.

“Anu dear, don’t please be annoyed but are you sure Harjit’s family is aware of both of your decision to marry? And when will Harjit come to meet us? We would like to meet the family too…….this is normal course that wedding plans take shape, don’t you think?” Sujata broached the topic delicately with Ananya.

“At least show us a picture of Harjit” coaxed Sujata. “Um…hmm… You will meet Harjit , Mom. Have a little patience. I only have a photograph of our group Ma. Here, take a look. There next to me is Harjit.”

Ananya stood sandwiched among her huge group of friends, with a very handsome boy and a good-looking girl next to her in the photograph. “Hmm…”Observed Sujata and smiled at her daughter. Ananya hugged her mother “Thank you Mom, for understanding….I will let your worry be known to Harjit. You will meet the family soon enough I hope.

The months flew away so soon……Sujata kept insisting to meet Harjit before both families met to plan the wedding but the college activities and then the campus interviews had kept both Ananya and Harjit very busy. And now that the time was less, Sujata got another jolt…..Harjit’s parents were against the wedding and would not involve themselves in any activity related to the wedding!

Sujata again had the same niggling nagging feeling that something was just not right.  Her thoughts raced again…… “Why doesn’t Harjit’s family approve….. Are they against inter-community marriages….? Oh, God….. Are they expecting dowry? Where will my daughter stay after marriage……Will they never accept her? Why are they not even talking to us? How will we know what they are thinking? O Lord Ganesha! Help us!”

Ananya and Harjit had decided to go ahead with the marriage whether both set of parents agreed or not…… Sick with worry, Sujata nevertheless kept preparing for her daughter’s wedding….after all it is supposed to be the best day of a girl’s life. She bought the blues, greens, yellows ….the silks, chiffons and cottons…. all variety of saris for her precious daughter. She chose most delicate gold jewellery and diamond jewellery of her daughter’s choice too…a big ring and a thick gold chain for the groom. Saris for her daughter’s mother-in-law, suit for the groom and father-in-law. The priests had been consulted for the ‘shubh-muhurta’. The decorators were finalised and the theme decided…..expenses negotiated. Food was decided….both Maharashtrian and Punjabi food would be catered for….What if the groom’s family forgives and decides to attend the wedding after all?

The day of wedding had finally arrived. Harjit’s parents never consented, never called and no one from Harjit’s family was attending the celebrations. Sujata was worried and very unhappy of the whole situation. Ananya and Harjit’s friends were the only ones attending the wedding as the groom’s guests. “Something is just not right” she kept saying to herself fearing that her mood would spoil her daughter’s wedding.

The venue was decorated with the brightest of the red roses, pink and purple gerberas, while yellow marigold petals were laid out as carpet on the pathway. The faint aroma of incense sticks filled the venue. Jasmine and chrysanthemums were used to make the ‘mandap’ where the wedding garlands and wedding vows were to be exchanged. The whole venue was looking like a dream. The guests had started arriving and were sprinkled with rose water and handed a rose bud at the entrance. All were waiting for the groom to arrive.

Soon the faint strains of drums and music could be heard and Ananya’s mother and aunts gathered at the entrance of the venue with ‘puja-thalis’ to welcome the ‘baaraat’.  The wedding procession could be seen at a distance and people danced to loud Punjabi film songs and drum beats. The groom was to ride in a red car decorated with white rose bouquets. Since no one had met the groom so as the procession came to a halt in front of the gates of venue everybody crowded over and craned their necks to see the groom…….

Sujata was surprised to see the same handsome boy from the photograph dancing among the friends in ‘baaraat’. As the car stopped the handsome boy came forward to open the car door to allow the groom to get down from the car.

When Sujata saw the groom alighting from the car, her heart stopped and she knew why she had had the niggling nagging feeling all the time since the day Ananya had expressed her desire to marry!

A loud collective gasp was heard followed by a stunned silence as soon as the groom came out of the car holding a huge red rose wedding garland:

There decked up in the most gorgeous bridal finery, a bright red ‘lehenga’ embroidered with the most exquisite ‘zardosi’ and glittering gold jewellery stood the beautiful girl from the photograph…Harjit…..MS HARJIT KAUR !!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fiction | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Converge

Red Wood trees, Muir Woods, San Francisco

 As we craned our necks to see the Redwood  trees at Muir Woods Park, San Francisco converge to reach up to touch and feel the glory of the heavenly canopy above, we could only marvel at the nature and its creation….felt humbled and dwarfed by the size of these tall trees. There was so much peace and calm in the park ….it felt like meditation. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They gave away their lives for the freedom from the clutches of British rule…..The Cellular Jail, Andaman islands, stands testimony of the atrocities on the Indians who stood up to reclaim their motherland. “Freedom is not free” I read at a memorial monument in USA …. Let us remember the sacrifice of our martyrs due to whom today we enjoy this freedom.

The rows of cells converge into a central tower which could be accessed only if the tower door to each floor was opened.

A road to Paradise

The woods are dark and deep… miles to go before I sleep… The woods converge coaxing me to look ahead in future….

Arlington Cemetery, Washinton D.C

Here sleep the heroes (Arlington Cemetery). The rows of uniformly  laid out gravestones look like converging in eternity as if to say the soul is eternal…

 

Related Articles:

http://solaner.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/weekly-photo-challenge-converge/

http://sfchapman.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/weekly-photo-challenge-converge/

http://maraeastern.com/2014/11/28/weekly-photo-challenge-converge/

http://danbochat.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/weekly-photo-challenge-converge/

http://insellos.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/weekly-photo-challenge-converge/

http://pathsunwritten.com/2014/11/29/weekly-photo-challenge-converge/

 

 

Posted in Photography, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

10 Things we should learn from the Americans!!

We ape western countries!! There is no doubt about that… even if many do not agree with me.

They say ‘Yoga’ is best and suddenly many of us start exercising yoga and many yoga instructors suddenly surface like mushrooms after rains ……

They say vegetarian diet is best and suddenly we start eating those same grains but now with english names….

NASA says Sanskrit is the best language for computer commands and we start giving importance to the ancient language like never before…

Why have we forgotten the good things which have been in our country since centuries?

We watch Hollywood movies and roll our tongues to twirl our R’s or skip our G and T’s to sound like Americans. Fake accents …really? Is that only the way to ape?

It is not wrong to cultivate new habits and new mannerism. And I can think of some ten habits(there is a possibility there are more which I might have failed to count) which we should actually ape from the Americans to become better people and better country….

1. Respect. I was quite impressed by the way Americans show respect to the social helpers like garbage collectors, bus drivers, shopkeepers etc. They do not have caste system and hence all are equal…..no one is looked down upon because of the work they do. Instead human labor is highly valued in the country.

Since all are equal hence everybody does their own work and the concept of ‘kaamwali- bai’, ‘dhobi’ or ‘kachrewala’ is not common among average Americans (the house-cleaners are quite expensive if their services are used)

Can we imagine anybody appreciating or greeting a road sweeper in our country? Honestly…I never did it either(but now I have decided to gradually incorporate a habit of appreciating the rickshaw wallahs, sweepers and garbage collectors, at the least say a little thank you every time). Most of the time we shoo them away, we  are arrogant with them and never ever pay them what they actually deserve instead we haggle for the last rupee till the poor thing agrees to our terms and conditions.

Half of our effort goes in saying “Tu janata nahi hai main kaun hoon?” (you don’t know who you are talking to….implying that the person can do whatever he feels like and nobody can object). Instead if we could be polite and respectful and ignore the rave and rants of a misbehaving person there would less of squabbles. We show respect to people who either have power to hurt….the politicians, the bhais(hoodlum) or have a lot of money (basically brains are ignored).

Women,  in many homes in our country, are not given enough credit for their opinions or freedom to exercise their choices. Honor killings are still prevalent in our society….can we call that civilized? Are the people indulging in such acts human? What about the rapes? Women can not exercise their  choice of clothes, can not step out of home without the fear of being molested? Strict laws against dowry harassment, female infanticide are still not being implemented? Is that how women are should be shown respect in any society? Do we even have the right to judge the morals of western people when our own moral and ethics vis-à-vis women are so twisted and perverted? Are women’s denials even considered as an option by their husbands who see the wives as an object of  sexual gratification and a personal servant?

Many will say this doesn’t happen in our homes….its the problem of uneducated people…..No Sir! It is very much prevalent in so-called educated families too!!

We are not enough polite and we do not show enough respect to fellow human beings….that is the reality!!

How difficult is it to adopt a more accepting attitude and being respectful towards everybody. Why not ape this?

2.Small Courtesies. Way back in 1990 a film “Maine Pyar Kiya” was released and a dialogue from the movie has since become the mantra …” Friendship me no sorry no thank you”.

Hello, why not? What is wrong in acknowledging someone’s help? Who wants to be taken granted? And mind you(those who feel that I am advocating foreign manners), hindi language has always had words like “Dhanyavad” and it is still considered a good manner to say it, only nobody does it these days! What is the harm in saying please, sorry and thank you. It doesn’t make anyone less of a friend if they say or expect these small courtesies.

Americans greeted us though none of them knew us. An eye contact was enough to elicit a smile, a “How are you doing today?” or a “Good Morning” or a “Have a good day”. We however do not even greet the grocer, news paper man etc whom we meet everyday, let alone a stranger.

It is not that greeting everybody wasn’t ever in practice, but while we busied ourselves in aping western slang, clothes or food…we forgot our own culture of politeness and brotherhood.

3. Stand in a queue. Oh yes we do stand in a line…on bus stands, railway stations or basically wherever compulsory but the moment nobody is watching we crowd over everywhere pushing, elbowing, trampling other’s foot without a care….. If there is a woman in a bus the men stand so close till their front is literally rubbing the woman’s behind! And if there is no sign indicating the need for a queue…..Oh! yes!! we rush around like a toddler who is still learning the motor skills. On the escalators we occupy the entire step instead of standing on one side leaving one side free for people who might prefer to walk. While in queue if a gap develops between two people, we will urge the person to move even if the queue ahead is yet standing still. We stand so close to each other in queues that we might as well identify the brand of deodorant and perfumes or the lack of it from the person ahead of us! And do we ever even consider that the person standing slightly away from the queue might actually be in the same queue?

The whole month that I visited various cities in America, I did not see a sign which would point out to stand in a queue ….yet the people stood patiently in a queue! Whether you want to take a picture of some display, use a washroom, order food from a street food kiosks, on an escalator or stairs, boarding a bus, boat or even a train.

Is it so difficult for us to not push while in a line and not snigger at the discomfort of the other people?

4. Wait for your turn!Do we ever bother to not cross in front of the camera when somebody is taking a picture? Aren’t most of our pictures wasted due to somebody else lurking in the same frame? While at an exhibition, do we take care before stopping at an exhibit, to see whether we are obstructing somebody else’s line of sight?

There they do!!  Every time that we wanted to take a picture the pedestrians would pause to allow us finish our photography and some even offered to shoot our family photograph. They  wait for the other person to move away from the exhibits in a museum or an art gallery, from the vending machine or the ATM.

I always thought we were well-mannered but I was forced to do a reality-check of myself…..and I failed too. Are we impatient by choice or we just don’t have the civility gene in us?

5. Schools first! How much importance do we give to our schools and the quality of Happy School kidseducation? Does the proximity to a school govern our decision to buy property? Do we aim to find the teacher’s ability in school or we  just  go for a good looking school? Does the school’s reputation in our country, dictates the development of the neighborhood? Do the school children get a dedicated pathway to reach safely at school? Are the government schools in our country, first choice among the upper middle class strata of society?

The prices of real estate in our country depends on the proximity of airport or railway station or if the property belongs to some politician. However in America the quality of education in a particular school decides the rise in price of real estate….the better the school higher the price. The government schools are compulsorily at a walking distance and hence each residential area has a school.

If only we could give similar importance to educating our kids and demand a better quality in schools may be our kids will be spared from travelling long distances in search of  a good school.

6. Follow road rules. I spent a month vacationing in different cities of the USA and I did Manhattan Trafficnot see a single traffic jam, a single road fight or any accident. I did not see any traffic police officer trying hard to make people stick to their lanes or to follow the traffic light signals. In fact I did not come across a single traffic police officer! The cars stopped when lights went red and even if there was no vehicle coming from opposite direction, they kept waiting for the signal to turn green. I did not see cars honking away to make way. I did not see people stopping their vehicles on middle of the road. I did not see any car bump into the car ahead though they have more cars than we have in our country.

Friends and family in America, warned us about traffic in Los Angeles but one day, the three of us, me my husband and our daughter were crossing a street when the signal for pedestrians turned red. I was the only one still on the footpath while my husband and daughter had already crossed half the street. Although it was the signal for traffic, yet all the cars stopped for me and as I debated to cross or not, a gentleman in one of the cars waved at me to go join my family.

Can we even imagine people in our country stopping for so long? We are always in a hurry to reach somewhere(and God knows where or may be the rash driver knows that too), so we start driving when the traffic signal just about turns yellow. Can we imagine pedestrians being given the right of way? Can we imagine drivers of two cars not being at loggerheads blaming each other after  jumping their respective traffic signals?

I did not see traffic crowding entire width of the road…. at the signals the cars waited in a single line leaving the rest of the road for the oncoming traffic. They did not honk horns thus avoiding unnecessary chaos and noise on the roads. When my husband stops at red light and doesn’t budge from his place till  the signal actually turns green…..people give us dirty looks. I noticed that the Americans gestured a thank you if the car ahead gave way for the car at back to overtake. But in our country we are greeted with a fist gesture and a barrage of expletives if we do not heed the incessant honking of the car behind us !!

Can we imagine people acknowledging other drivers, even in metropolitan cities in our country?Is it so difficult for us to follow traffic rules? Wouldn’t it save us a hell lot of time if we stuck to road rules and not honk so much?

7. No littering. The common excuse most of us lament is that the government authorities have not provided enough dustbins throughout any city and so the garbage lies everywhere. Agreed, that there is some truth to this but lets please cross our hearts and honestly answer the question; How many times have we bothered to make sure that the garbage is actually thrown in the bins? Even the educated people who can afford to zip around in cars roll down the car windows and callously dispose off the paper napkins, banana peels or plastic packets just like that…on the road or in the countryside. In fact many a times when we drive and I have insisted on collecting all fruit peels, disposable coffee cups, paper napkins etc in a plastic bag to dispose later in a bin, I have met resistance from my own extended family !! Some of them think I am taking cleanliness drive a bit too far.

Americans pick up after themselves…..even their dog’s poop. I did not see any pile of garbage rotting away on roadside, no plastic bag marring the street view, nobody spitting out the orange residue of ‘gutkha’. The everyday garbage picking staff in America if compared to the poor ‘jhaduwalas’ in our Garbage pick- up staffcountry are dressed so neatly that if they do not have a broom in hand, they don’t look different from rest of the people in the street and there was hardly anything to sweep on the roads!

All my growing up years my mother made sure that me and my sister put the garbage in proper dustbins, at home and outside. She used to tell us that if each person put their share of garbage in the bins, our country would become  clean eventually. I am almost forty years old now but even after so many years I can not find clean streets. Was my mother the only one teaching us to care about our country? Was she the only one who taught cleanliness. I believe in my mother’s optimism and have made sure my daughter follows the same rule. But when my daughter questions me about unclean schools and streets….I have no answer!

Do we have a neatness gene in us or not? Can we not be as clean? Why even compare to the US….our own village Mawlynong  near Shillong, Meghalaya is known as the cleanest village in Asia. The villagers do not litter on the village streets and the use of plastic bags is banned. After having visited Mawlynong a few years back I realised that if there is will, our cities can be as clean too.

Is it really so difficult for us to be clean and tidy?

8. Respect  Armed Forces. We were visiting “Sea World” San Diego, California. Among other attractions, there was a show featuring the killer whales Orca. Before the show could begin, the whale trainers encouraged all the viewers to spare a moment and show gratitude to all the military personnel whether living or departed. The crowd applauded the bravery of the men and women in uniform.

Arlington Cemetery, Washinton D.CAnother instance where the respect for the military was very clear was a tour of “Arlington Cemetery”, Washington D.C. Irrespective of whether the cemetery had a tombstone of a loved one, the Americans observed silence in the cemetery in honor of the soldiers who gave away their lives for the country. Again the cemetery which occupies a huge area was well maintained without any littered area. The cemetery also had a memorial for the soldiers whose next of kin could not be traced or who died as unknown people. And yet they respected these  unknown soldiers by keeping the area clean and offering their prayers for them.

Our soldiers have died not only in the wars in 1965, 1971 or the Kargil war but also during rescue missions during floods and landslides. However it is the politician who gets the high pay and a pat on shoulder. Also the people have the nerve to retort that nobody forced the men to join military, it is the job they have chosen of free will!! Well of course  nobody asked them to join military but yet they chose to die for the ungrateful nation. What if nobody joins the military? Who will protect the politicians, the rich and everybody?

Only thing a defense personnel asks for is a little respect…can’t we give them that?

9. Preserve heritage. We have centuries old structures, the temples and forts which are great examples of construction techniques, sculpting and the way society functioned…..Americans have relatively lesser history. However, they preserve whatever heritage they have….they are proud of it and present it to the world with a sense of belonging.

Where is our sense of belonging? I have seen scribblings on the white marble walls of Taj Mahal even! It is as if people deliberately plan to take a sharp object with them to scratch the walls of monuments…they spit on the walls, they get in destroying different religion’s prayer houses and do not bat an eyelid before retorting “tumhara hai kya jo beech me bol rahe ho?”( Is it yours that you are objecting?) Is that a sense of belonging? Of course each and every part of the country belongs to each and every citizen and not only one’s house….so each one of us needs to have this sense of belonging and preserve our heritage.

It doesn’t help to cling to the names of leaders of yesteryears…..if they worked for the country’s independence…then may be we should emulate their thought process and work towards what they left for us.

10For God’s your own sake…..work!! Since we have this retirement and pension thing….people start looking forward to put up their feet and retire and basically not WORK!! Why retire till the body functions? Why can people find other ways to earn and be busy and not waste away time in front of television, expecting rest of the family members to rally around them?

I saw 75 year olds involving themselves in marathon at Washington D.C and retired 75-year-old army pilot flying tourists at Grand Canyon….

Many women in our society are homemakers. How come they are never allowed to retire?   One such person, I have come across, feels that post retirement he has the right to just relax…watch tv, play cards with his friends, go for a walk, sleep and eat!! His wife for last fifty years has been a homemaker and she has had no chance to retire….this person doesn’t make his own tea let alone do it for his wife. He retorts that I can not do kitchen work because I don’t know how to….plain and simple!! But if his wife retires and sits in front of television all day…would be acceptable? And hell, if the wives can continue working why not these ‘retired men’? It is not as if they are the only ones working!!

Why can we not do away with this pension system so that everybody is self-reliant? Nobody will need to make a will in children’s name so no danger of  the property being snatched by scrupulous offsprings and no need to lament about being sent to some old age home!

Other benefits of working, post-retirement, would be a longer duration of active brain and body, lesser excuses of tiredness, best use of time and hence lesser laments that nobody has time for old people!

Retirement should only be an option for physically weak or people having disability or  long sickness.

If somebody is active enough for driving, meeting friends, watching movies, going to restaurants…..then please WORK and stop cribbing  about younger people or emotionally blackmailing them about their duties!!

Phew!! That is one long rant from me…..but seriously we need to re-look at why the country ….the largest democracy, the home of so many beautiful cultures has still not reached where it should have been globally.

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A wait….little too long!!

“How deep is your love…how deep is your love? ‘Cause we are living in a world of fools…”

Bee Gees crooned on the radio station when I tuned in…..

Yes…How deep was my love, really?

And how do you measure love? Lengthy odes? Letter written in blood? Tears….? Do these measure love to the fullest?

I arrived back at home after a very fulfilling and enjoyable month-long vacation bursting with excitement to share with the world the stories of my vacation, only to find that our precious “Buddy” passed away few hours before our arrival. He was in good health and good care while we were away ……yet he breathed his last in our absence at the age of 6 1/2 yrs.

What thoughts must have passed in this four-legged creature’s mind while he took his last breath? Despair? Hopelessness? Did he have a heart-break? Was he confused about why we left him? Do dogs shed tears? Did he give up on us?

It seems so easy for us humans to fall in and out of love…. Arguments between a couple….solution: break up, ego problems….solution: break up, unfavorable behaviour….solution: break up, long separation…solution: break up and a new partner……

How do these canines love so wholeheartedly….we call ourselves the master of a pet but these simple creatures simply love us as family….

Our BuddyBuddy…..just loved and loved. Whenever I was annoyed and scolded him he would lower his eyes meekly and crawl under the bed…but a slight wave or smile on my face would bring him out wagging his tail, barking away his demands of a pat or tidbit or a hug. He would then sit contented just outside the kitchen door and see me work. Every time I walked back to bedroom he would follow and then back to sitting outside the kitchen. I would talk to him through out the day. He would snuggle up near my feet while I sat reading some book or newspaper. Having made sure that we all were in the house…he would go under the bed and go off to a fitful sleep loudly snoring away to glory without any worries.

He was a little jealous baby…..Whenever I hugged my daughter, Buddy would bark and seek attention by raising his paw …” pet me too!!”he would say. He was an impatient child….though he understood the “sit” command but he couldn’t control himself for more than few seconds when his food was being served. He would sit when told to but bark incessantly till his bowl wasn’t given to him. He was a naughty brat….when playing with his ball he never fetched it instead he would sit with ball in his mouth ready to leap away. He expected  the ball to be snatched from his mouth and thrown again for him to play. He would run away with my bathroom slippers… He was sometimes very dumb….He was not aware of the magnitude of his strength and would sit feeling helpless if his leash was stuck on a moulded plastic lawn chair not realising that with his single pull the chair could be easily dragged to anywhere he wanted..

Buddy and his throneAs a pup he claimed rights over a bean bag and dragged every biscuit and every bite of his dog food on the bean bag. As enjoyable as it was to watch him show annoyance if pushed from beanbag yet I took away his throne one day to wash and put away. He was quite upset but soon took fancy to an oversized stuffed toy  and would sleep with his head resting on the toy.

All he ever wanted was a pat, a hug, food and sweet words and he made us his family ….his dog family. Even though he was over enthusiastic to meet every new person but it was us who he loved most. He never ever however was angry at us….never!!

He had never stayed separated from us for more than ten to twelve days. This time however he waited for a month……Was it a wait too long for him?He hid his anxiety well from everybody else and put up a brave face ….all the while waiting for us to turn up. And then he gave up!!

If only he knew that we were away only for a vacation…we hadn’t left him…we did love him and we were coming back to hug him again, to pat him, to feed him to say loving words to him….

His love for us was so  so deep that he couldn’t bear the separation from us…..but how deep was my love? Did I take him for granted? I feel guilty……..of making him lose hope, of his despair, of his heartbreak, of him feeling unloved and alone…

Had I known the extent of his pining for us….

Why did I not call? Would he have lived after hearing our voice? Would he have waited for us? Would his heart become whole again? If only I could show him once how much I loved him…If I could touch him once more….If only he had seen us once before closing his eyes….

If only I had not made him wait this long…

 

 

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime

Fort wall at Amer Fort, Jaipur with a early full moon

Outer wall of Amer Fort with an early full moon

Amer Fort

Amer Fort at night illuminated for light and sound display

Beach at Havelock Island, Andamans

A stroll on beach at nighttime

Candle light Dinner at Havelock Island, Andamans

Candle light Dinner at Havelock Island, Andamans

 

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