urban living


When the humdrum of big city life gets the bloated ego to balloon (in addition to the body that is), it is travel to small cities and experiencing a life that is lived at a different rhythm that swings the pendulum back.

Semi-urban India offers a diverse array of uniquely simple folks who go about their lives with so much of ease, quiet and sense of ‘get-on-with-it. Infact that is part of how life is lived normally !

Ofcourse, readers could be more familiar with that life. These scenes have appeared ever so many times in our movies and even more so in discussions on ‘rural empowerment’, ofcourse, set in five star hotels.

In the corporate humdrum dominated city life, sticking-neck-out-plying-of-wares is more of an exercise with an eye on the annual increment and what the ‘boss’ thinks. ( I didn’t intend generalizing, and am sure you the reader can point to several people (including yourself) who are very different. Yet, I guess, the world that I describe is the world that I often see) !

When viewed in a hurry, it is only natural for people to relate to these scenes with the superficiality of what the picture seems to hold and not explore the depths of the story that is pregnant within.

Think about this. When you don’t have a degree to back you up or a set of ‘Key Result Areas’ to confine yourself to while being expected to support the family, provide for the future of children with whatever you have, I guess, you carry a different load in your head. We all will.

Yet! To have no choice but to look forward to everyday. To walk more than 20 KMs with a 10 KG weight on the head. To do this day in day out. Shouting out to customers. Arguing with middlemen, bus conductors and sometimes fellow bus passengers, these folks are such an inspiration to life. These folks are human. And anyone of us could have been them !

Urban settings and offices, call them ‘unskilled labour’. ‘Daily Wages’ is their compensation structure. A twang laden educated air engulfs our collective view of such ‘labour’. An educated air that is devoid of basic http://pharmacy-no-rx.net/viagra_generic.html understanding and respect that one human being could accord another.

And so, I sat there in a bus stop. As ‘small’ farmers, merchants and their wives got down from buses, struck deals with middlemen and sold their wares, in an almost rural setting. There were others who loaded and unloaded and moved about with purpose. Looking at me with curiosity, if at all. They had a job to do Perhaps families to feed, livestock to rear and children to raise.

They balanced the loads on their heads, carried some more in extended arms, hips and parts of the human body which strangely transformed to grooves for holding such stock.

Not for a moment seeking attention, pity or even any physical help. They were proud people going about their daily routines.

I don’t know for how long I sat there. Doing nothing but soaking it all in. Every image registered in the mind. The slow rhythms of life in a small town can be supremely captivating superlatively preparatory for life elsewhere. Especially when the urge to stand and stare rules.

As old women hauled weights that seemed far in excess of the frail frames, I realized that my struggle was not really the most supreme. Infact, some of it appeared rather small. If you are reading this post, we ( you and I ) are perhaps part of a blessed minority. A minority that can read, write, has basic needs taken care of, can access the web and have the capacity for thinking and thought.

Its about time our education and our capacity to think, alters our understanding of weights on other peoples heads. Even as we stick our necks out to reach to a new height at work, may we have it in us to see these weights with new eyes.

May we spread a smile. Perhaps a friendly wave. Even more, a full-throated greeting to the man and woman on the street who have no options but to just ‘get-on-with-it’! Above all this, may we travel and see the ‘exotic’ness of sights that we miss seeing with the heart!

May we all make it large !

Conspicuous Absences

The trip to the US continues. The roads are clean. Traffic is orderly. The level of orderliness merits a separate post ! Every other street corner seems to be replete with an effort to blank out ‘grey’ and possible ambiguity, announcing several aspects, including one that announced ‘uneven surface’.
When your immediate context is Mumbai or Chennai or any other city in India and you are used to entire valleys (if not Marina trenches) coming up , where roads existed till the night before, to see a sign that announces ‘uneven surface’ is a matter of great preponderance.

What strikes you most is the absence of people. Vast empty stretches of land, occasionally signalling to you, the existence of life, by a passing car ! That ‘once in a while’ passing car is an important

event, but for which the entire neighbourhood could pass for still image resident in a tourist’s camera. All of this ofcourse, in California, the most populous state in the US !

India has 1/3rd the size of the US and three times the population !!! That could define ‘double whammy’ perfectly. Every other factual comparison however obvious morhps into a tiny sliver of inconsequential information when viewed through the lens of ‘1/3rd the size X 3 times the population’ !

Ofcourse we have a huge population in India. The entire of population of the state of California is less than the population of just three metros Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata put together. Remember, California is the most populous state !

‘Oh we have far too many people’ is an argument that can pass muster with consummate ease against any other factual comparison that could be made based on whats seen here and whats missing back home. Perhaps not without reason. However, that argument doesn’t fly all the way and gets a rather specious shade when its thrown as a defense for any and every sore pore !

The other obvious absence is ‘litter’ ! Boards which carry a message ‘$ 1000 fine for littering’ anoint every other crossing. That is a lot of a money and is a Mt.Everest of a financial barrier.
On the same keel, the super efficient garbage collection methods with more than adequate opportunities for people to dispose their litter completes the circle !

Every house has three bins for three types of waste. ( Yard, Recyclable and non-recyclable). Trash gets collected over a week. On one pre-scheduled day, trash shows up on the roads. In orderly trash cans like this.

Specifications on how and where to place them, can pop an eyeball. But when a large truck comes along and does some serious robotics ( said to be equipped with cameras et al to scan through the waste ) to pick the cans with precision that’s seen in an automated factory, the necessity of following specifications become obvious.

In a flash the trash is taken. Not a drop spilled. No drips on the road.

Perhaps employing all of three people. Driving three different trucks for three different trash cans. Quite obviously the capital expenditure on such trucks and technology could trump full economies of countries. Obviously this is not recommended in India !

What perhaps is recommended for India is another form of cleansing to begin with, which you, the reader, can arrive at far accurate conclusions than what can ever be articulated on this blog!

On another note, for many ages now this blogger has been given enough of an education by his missus that cleanliness begins at home. Only now, does he have some response. Which could go like….’Sure, cleanliness is next to Godliness. But for ‘Godmanliness‘, there is no answer !’ America gives courage to the married man.

Whatsay !?!

The other post is here


Urban living and conspicuous consumption, has larger than life effects. With those round figures in the bank and thin plastic in the pocket, power abounds like never before. It didn’t require a Newton to say ‘Every action has an equal and opposite reaction’, but guess what, he said it, and God bless his soul.

Yes, our kind of living with those crazy malls the size of airports and airports the size of cities and citie encroaching mountains, oceans and whatever else, reactions are a natural consequence.

Of the several, the ones that are closest to you, those that you cant miss seeing are these : The pot belly is as standard as standard can get, supermarket require trolleys to cart the goods that are bought and while there is some discussion that can be entertained about possibility of life on Mars, there can be no discussion about the lack of possibility of life without a mobile phone !

Such is modern day urban life. No ?

If you think this is a blogpost on the ever changing social milieu of modern day society, well there cant be a farther distance between fact and fiction. Regular readers know that this blogs draws its boundry along the lines of the inane. For instance, this post is about the Trashcan!

Was that a facepalm !?! Oops. Sorry eh !

Are you still reading ? Ok…well, you were warned.

An oversized yet overflowing Trashcan is a constant remnant in any neighbourhoods in Mumbai. And rightly so. With kind of bubble wraps, packs, cardboards, plastic and God knows what else that every day life is filled with ! Days ago, a kind soul thought it fit to gift a microwave oven all the way from the US. It came with an instruction ‘please remove package and instruction sheet before cooking’.

Upon immediate and hurried cross checking, it was made known that it was a general instruction and not specifically written out based on an assessment of a customer’s perceived intelligence. Which greatly soothed distraughtly ruffled feathers. That instruction sheet, along with the package was promptly disposed to the Trashcan.

To cut a long story short ( as is usually said by a loud mouth after sharing a rather long winded story), the world generates enough and more of waste.

The city itself seems to be just short of announcing a grand festival of litter in the neighbourhood, everyday. Citizens decorating streets with empty packets of chips, short eats, trinkets and such else , adding to the colour and variety is a standard way of proud being.

And therefore, enticing people to submit their trash in cans, surely has become an activity of great creative intelligence. Amongst the many ways to this, here are a few that are commonly sighted and carefully presented.

At the first go, there are Trashcans that resemble cartoon characters. Mickey Mouse. Donald Duck. Goofy. And the variety. They perhaps are targeted at children or someone with a funny bone that protrudes. Or fairly pronounced, at the least.

For instance, what could be the chances of the sophisticated svelte socialite running to drop her used tissue in this trashcan just because it is in the shape of a colourful Mickey Mouse imploring her to do so, with a ‘use me’ scrawled all over… Or perhaps, maybe. With people and their modern day preferences, well, who knows.

The other variety are the ‘animal replica’ trashcans. Big gorillas, monkeys, penguins and such else, with various parts of their body sporting a gaping hole, designed to excite the passerby to desist from aiming the just-now-empty Coke bottle at the middle of the road, by providing a very credible and inviting alternative.

Often times, they get stuffed with a vengeance of sorts and the way things are going, it doesn’t look like its going to be long before the SPCA is going to take notice.

Leading the ‘Heaviest Trash Creator’ chart are items of prayer, once the prayers are on the way to the favourite God, puja paraphernalia stays on earthly realms. To expect such a sacred item to be tossed into Mickey Mouse or a Gorilla sporting a gaping hole in his mouth, imploring ‘use me’..well conjures an ineffable picture in the mind. Lets leave it at that.

So, ladies and gentlemen, right here in Powai, we have an ingenious solution that some noble soul has thought of.

Trashcans that take the shape of a kalash. A Kalash ? (For overseas readers, the Kalash is an object of sacred devotion, often used in prayer, and usually adorns the tall gopurams in temples). So there, if you are the puja & pilgrim type, ofcourse, theres a trashcan for you !

(Well, let not the surprise catch you midway through whatever you are doing, the next time you spot a ‘Parliament building’ shaped urinal to excitedly herd all those who prefer to free up their bladders in open spaces. They could think of that, you know).

On another note, here is a postulate. “The surroundings of a trashcan invite as much trash. If not more. They invite more trash if the trashcan seems to be of the protected variety.” That’ Axleys postulate from the dummies guide to rule making on trashcans. Ofcourse, that was made up. But here is evidence.

Trashcans with protection, is something indeed. Ofcourse, as far as trash disposal is concerned, the citizenry of this place knows to encroach. ‘In the trashcans or thereabouts’, is good enough for trash disposal !

There is another genre, people. Trashcans with a name. No kidding. There is one that was present until very recently nearby, with ‘OCTAVIUS’ written on its chest. I mean, come on ! Octavius! The chap was an emperor for godsake. A man that Shakespeare wrote about. A chap that straddled between BC and AD ! Adorning a trashcan!?!

Perhaps to excite the Shakespeare / history types ! Perhaps. Ah ! Times !