“Auto-Man”

THIS INDIA, ONE INDIA

Despite our varied cultural plurality and many known – unknown sectarian identity, at the core of us we ARE ONE, JUST ONE INDIA. No amount of difference, be it religion, region or language can break our tolerance.  I have planned to pen down a series on this very bondage that makes us  One … ONE INDIA.

This is the second in the series….. “Auto-Man” !


I was still standing at the Reception Counter of Vellore Hospital and trying to explain things. But somehow could not make the person follow of what I was wanting! To my rescue came an elderly gentleman and asked me about my queries. I was those days working in Bangalore. There was a Community Health Training programme organised jointly by CMC and a voluntary organisation. My wife is involved in an NGO, in Calcutta, and they had sent 4 participants for this event. She told me to meet them and greet them. I explained all these to this gentleman. He apparently was aware of this event and vellore temple2directed me to go to the Rural Campus of CMC. He said any auto-rickshaw driver would know the place and take me there.

I came to the auto-rickshaw stand and got hold of one who readily agreed to take me there. He was more enthused when I told him that I would go there for about ten minutes and then return again, which would mean he would have an assured return fare.

With the word ‘go’ my ordeal started. After about five minutes journey our man stopped the Auto-rickshaw, digged in his hands into the dash board, collected some stuff andvelore mosque vanished into oblivion. In about 4 minutes he returned, singing happily, he started driving again. He explained that the Rural Campus is the place where CMC has training premise, and, he assured me that I would like the place for its scenic beauty. I was indeed enjoying the outskirt area. But lo, behold. My amusement was short lived. Our man again stopped his auto-rickshaw, digged his hand into the dashboard again and vanished somewhere. This time he returned after a little more time than his last trip. I, on my  part, did a wrong thing this time. I peeped into his hand and could catch the glimpse of a matchbox! Now I knew what was happening. This man must be a hard core drug addict, could not even stop for more than 15 minutes before he goes for a next puff ! I decided to give him a full lecture on this bad habit once we return to Vellore, no matter even if I am late in returning to Bangalore.

As  promised I could finish my visitation within ten minutes. Those colleagues of my wife were  visibly happy as they were invited to visit Bangalore on their return journey to Calcutta once they complete this training.

vellore churchOn our way back, only once our Auto-rickshaw stopped for a while, this time at a semi urban spot. Once he returned, placed back the matchbox into the dashboard and started his vehicle….. I barged in with my first question, “Since how long are you taking this” ? To this our man wore a very perplexed look and shot back “Sorry, Sir, I could not get you”.  “Okay, okay…. Let me be straight. Taking  drugs can be fun, but you know it would soon ruin you, more over I am sure you must be wasting much of your hard earned money on it. And do not try to cover up…. I saw you taking the matchbox, and, also some packet in your hand”.

Our man got the auto-rickshaw halt to a standstill. Came very near to me and said “No one has told me the things that you are telling. Of course my ways of doing things must have made you to think this way “ ! He quietly walked near the dashboard, took out the things. He handed over me those stuff –  a small pack of agarbattis, a small pack of vermillion, a matchbox.  Then he narrated. “ Sir, I have a small but nice family. My sole earning is from this auto-rickshaw. As you come out of CMC Hospital and take this small road to Rural Campus there is a Mosque. Every evening , without fail, I make a short prayer there. Then further up, there is a temple where I say a small prayer for the happiness of my family. And finally near the CMC there is a very old church. I never fail to pray here at least once in the evening. Believe me Sir it gives me happiness for my entire family. Just think Sir, my family gets happiness showered from all ! Balaji, Allah & Jesus … what else do I need!”

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Around night I took a bus to Bangalore. I had a very guilt feeling. Our man must have returned home, happily eating his night meal and must be telling his wife “You know, today I met a gentleman ….. a good man – but with a very narrow mind !”

 

 

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Sunny Saahib

THIS INDIA, ONE INDIA

Despite our varied cultural plurality and many known – unknown sectarian identity, at the core of us we ARE ONE, JUST ONE INDIA. No amount of difference, be it religion, region or language can  break our tolerance.  I have planned to pen down a series on this very bondage that makes us  One … ONE INDIA.

This is the first in the series….. “Sunny Sahib” !

There was a festive mood in the air, at least till this morning. Since one month every youth in the locality, in this end part of Ballygunge, was engrossed and busy. The reason – “Mahanisha”.  This is the name of the play or drama that the local youth planned to stage. Those days, it was very much in vogue to stage a drama in the locality with a large number of youth participating and there were regular rehearsals in the evenings. The local youth caught hold of Shambhu Uncle, a veteran drama director of the locality and the drama selected was Mahanisha.  Shambhu Uncle also agreed to spare his sitting room for the rehearsals.

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This roughly is the spot for stage… Shambhu uncle’s house at the backdrp

Everything was going on as per schedule. That evening was the show ! The day before the tent-wallahs brought in a lot of bamboo poles, tarpaulins, bundle of ropes, and, they promised to put up the tent this morning…. And…. Then…. There was this thick black cloud visible on the sky since morning.

Everyone said it is just a matter of minutes….. there would be heavy down pour of rain and it would surely ruin the drama show ! Everyone wore a gloomy look, and, at this juncture someone suggested “How about asking Jhantuda for some kind of  err….. way out?”. Jhantuda was the local thakurmoshai (priest) for all puja functions.

When approached, Jhantuda thought for a while and suggested a way out. “ There is a way out…. That is if you all have faith ….. and I am sure we will have the blessings of Devimaa”.  What Jhantuda suggested was this “ We must find out a person in the locality who is the only child – a son. He should dig a deep hole, all by himself, and then place a small metal bowl in the hole…  then fill up the hole with sand and lose soil..”. And now there was some cheer in the gloomy faces – every one went on different directions to fetch someone as per order…. Only child….. Only son.  But the cheer was short lived… they could come up with some names, but most of them had one or two sisters….and none was the only son.

At this juncture some one yelled “Jhantu da, there is one, at the very next door. But if   I spell the name you may not agree…. He is Sunny Sahib, our anglo-Indian neighbour.I mean after all he is not an  er…er..”. At this point Jhantuda rebuked him quite loudly “Shut up.You are talking non-sense….. what is important is how sincere the person is in seeking from the heart that rain must not ruin our drama show”.

When the youth group reached Sunny Sahib’s house, he was busy in doing push up. He was a fitness freak,a good horse rider ! He was all thrilled at the idea of digging and came out in no time with his own sets of crow-bar and shovel . Soon he dug up quite a large hole -more than what was needed. Someone brought in an old aluminium bowl.Sunny Sahib neatly placed it in the middle of the hole and in no time replaced the loose soil to fill-up the hole….. all along he wore his signature cap on his head.

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That evening there was a full house show of Mahanisha – a large number of people from neighbourhood gathered, under the clear sky.They said some of the local youth performed very well, much like the professional actors. I, for one, remember a bit. Our neighbour Kumar Uncle was in the lead role! He was a good looking hero. But perhaps, the actual hero of the day was Sunny Sahib – an anglo-Indian Christian who gave all his time and might to please Devi Maa!

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Sunny Saahib’s Bungalow still stands tall in the locality !

Tears of Baby Tree

forest 1

এক গাছ-শিশুর কান্না  

কারা যেন পয়সা দিয়ে কিনে নিল মাকে, কাক ভোরে কারা যেন কেটে নিল তাকে,

আমার মা, আমার মা গো, কেউ কি পয়সা দিয়ে আবার মা কিনে নেয়,

কেউ কি পয়সা দিয়ে কারো মা কিনে দেয় |

 

মা যখন ছিল পাশে কত পাখি আসতো  উড়ে একটু বাসার আশে,

বাতাস এসে ভিড় জমাতো মায়ের সবুজ আঁচলে

কেউ কি পয়সা দিয়ে আবার মা কিনে নেয়,

কেউ কি পয়সা দিয়ে কারো মা কিনে দেয় |

 

কত পথিক বসতো এসে মায়ের মধুর মিষ্টি ছায়া ঘেঁষে

আগাছা ঘাসেরা শুতো  মায়ের বিশাল কোলে

কেউ কি পয়সা দিয়ে আবার মা কিনে নেয়,

কেউ কি পয়সা দিয়ে কারো মা কিনে দেয় |

 

বড় হবো আমিও যখন, ওরা আবার আসবে

আমার দুখে তোমরা কি কেউ চোখের জলে ভাসবে ?

বল ভাই, বল ভাই,

কেউ কি পয়সা দিয়ে আবার বোন কিনে নেয় !

১৯৯৪                          – দীপ্তেন্দু মুখোপাধ্যায়

* কচি কাঁচাদের “পরিবেশ শিক্ষা”র কাজে বিভিন্ন গ্রামে এটি ব্যবহৃত হয় |

গানটি শোনার জন্য ক্লিক করুনCLICK

 

Leaving No One Behind

Swadhina, our civil society organisation was invited to make a Presentation on Social Issues at an event in Kolkata. This was the final day of the week-long “YWCA-YMCA Week of Prayer, the annual programme of the two world-wide organisations. This was held at the Auditorium of YMCA Calcutta Auditorium. We had a small team – two Narrators, Smita Mukerji and Dipanwita Pal. Others were Supta, Smriti, Antariksh, Anangalekha and AyantikaThe narration of each issue was visually supported by a large Posters, raised aloft which helped the congregation to have a clarity on the issue. Here is the Presentation

Written by Srichandra, and, the photos are by Subhadip Mukerji.

“ Leaving No one Behind”

 Narrator:  Recently the movie ‘Pink’ was much in news. It spoke of equal rights of women, equal chances for women and equal voice for women. Suddenly “Pink” became the colour of empowerment of women and girls. It became the symbolism of an inclusive world – where the rules were same for all. But are we really living in a world that is free of discrimination? To bring forward the real situation, we present here: the colors of change…..

 Song1: Laal Neel Sobujer Mela Boseche (Its a colourful fair – full of red, blue, green)

 dsc_1943Narrator: RED. What does the color Red signify ? In the Indian context red symbolises marriage – a color of warmth and happiness. But ask Sonamoni. For her it is the symbol of dread, symbol of fear, symbol of social stigma. She is an AIDS victim. At the age of twelve she was sold to the red-light area. At the age of twenty she returned to her village, only to be denied medical care or even the basic requirements of food, water and shelter. And Sonamoni is not alone. Consider these facts:

– The estimated number of people living with HIV in India is 2.1 million in 2013 according to UN reports.

– India has the third largest population suffering from HIV/AIDS.

-It is estimated that 70,000 children below the age of 15 infected with 21,000 children being infected through mother-child transmission every year.

– Being one of the biggest driving forces behind social stigma, there have been cases of denial of access to food, using water from common wells or ponds, denial of treatment by hospitals as well as denial of studying in schools.

So, irrespective of the legal security the social truth is that there are thousands of AIDS victims facing a daily death due to our social exclusion. But, it is time we make a change. So what can we do ?

– If we know a person who is HIV positive we ensure that she gets proper treatment at the right place.

– We should not discriminate against anyone that we know having HIV – at schools, colleges, workplace.

– We have t build awareness at every level.

– And be inclusive enough to shake hands and share a warm hug with the one suffering from HIV/AIDS infection.

Let Red be the colour of Hope and Not of Stigma because how I treat my co human beings is how I treat God, and everything I do is a Gift to God.

Song 2: Everything I do is a Gift to God

dsc_1948Narrator: PINK. Pink has always meant a soft colour – a colour for the babies. It is also the colour of Breast Cancer Awareness. And today Pink symbolises the voice of women against violence, voice against suppression, voice against deprivation of health care, education, economic rights. She was 15 years when Lakshmi Aggarwal became a victim of acid attack when she rejected the advance of a man. She had to undergo seven major operations just for survival, leave alone her normal looks which has been damaged permanently. We have been fighting for a gender-equal world , a gender-equal country for a long time but what does the reality project ?

– According to 2015 survey cruelty by husbands and relatives under section 498‐A of Indian Penal Code is the major crime committed against women across the country, with 909,713 cases reported over the last 10 years which means 10 women tortured every hour.

– In year 2014 alone 1,22,877 reported cases of outraging of women’s modesty have been reported in a single year. And mind you, these are just officially reported cases.

– 82,235 rape case have been officially registered in one year in 2014. And there are many more unreported cases.

– 80, 833 cases of dowry related death have been recorded by the police within an year.

– 66% of women have reported some form of sexual harassment or the other in one year.

So, do we just sit back and gape at these reports? Do we just organise seminars and protest marches and then forget about it? No, we need to be proactive , we need to raise our voice.

– Report every case of violence against women that we know of and NO, it is not interference, it is being a responsible human-being.

– Bring up our children equally. If it is curfew time for 10 pm for your daughter, so it should be for your son. If it is a cricket bat for your son, why not for your daughter ?

– Raise your voice for better and women-friendly judicial system and One-stop crisis centres for women victims of violence.

– Build awareness and be aware about issues that affect women but are seldom discussed about – like breast cancer and cervical cancer.

It is time for women to shed social stigma and say ‘let it go’

Song 3: ‘Let it go’

dsc_1950Narrator: GREEN. What is the first thing that comes to mind when we think Green ? Yes, trees and plants. They are our life-givers. But when we say “leaving no one behind?”, do we really think about our environment ? Our trees, flora and fauna? But think about it. If we are moving forward towards development without thinking about our environment, we are only inviting doomsday. In New Delhi recently a near-state of total closure happened due to pollution. The pollution level was so high that inhaling the air was equivalent to intake of smoke of 33 cigarettes per day. And this was not all. Just think of these:

– Indian cities alone generate more than 100 million tons of solid waste a year.

-India is the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, in 2009 at 1.65 Gt per year, after China and the United States.

– The WHO estimated in 2007 that air pollution causes half a million deaths per year in India.

– Over ten million people in India fell ill with waterborne illnesses in 2013 alone, and 1,535 people died, most of them children.

So, friends, isn’t it time that we become conscious citizens of this world ? Isn’t it time that we also think of our environment as we become developed nations ?

–  If you have a car, share it with others as a car pool so that there are less cars travelling at the same time. Also have the pollution emission checked regularly.

– Think Green. Act Green, For that – plant more trees – even if it means placing some little plants in your balcony.

– Build awareness at every level against usage of chemical pesticides.

– Remember and practice the three R s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle when it comes to goods like plastic goods.

We HAVE to do this. Or, else a young sapling will shed it’s silent tears asking for it’s mother tree – ‘Kaara jeno poysha diye kiney nilo maakey’ (Someone bought my mother, by paying some money !)

Song 4: ‘Kaara jeno poysha diye’

dsc_1952Narrator: WHITE. The color white depicts serenity, purity, innocence. And as soon as we say ‘innocence’ we are compelled to think about children. They are God’s divine gift to mankind. But are we giving them equal opportunities to grow up in a blissful manner?

Mahinder was only of eight years old when his father almost ‘sold him’ to a tea stall owner. There he was physically abused daily for two years till he ran away. He then unknowingly joined a gang of petty criminals who in turn sexually abused him for years. Today Mahinder, who is twenty now, is a hardened criminal, languishing in jail.

But it is not Mahinder alone.

– A study report of Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2007 has pointed out that 69% of children between the ages of 5-12 have faced physical abuse of some form or the other.

– A study backed by the Indian Government on child sexual abuse have pointed out that 53% of the children in the sample said that they were subjected to one or more forms of sexual abuse and of which 20% were severe and serious forms of abuse.

– It is estimated that 47% of the marriages happening in India are child marriages with the age of the bride being below 18 years. The figure is 69% and 65% in Bihar and Rajasthan respectively.

– Nearly 12 million children in India are married before the age of ten and of them about 44% are illiterate.

But as co-humans we must ensure that the foundation of our tomorrow is safe and for that it is essential to ensure a safer world for children. So, what can we do?

–  Ensure education for children, even if she is not from my family. If we have the capability we must provide for the education for those who cannot afford.

– Report every case of violence and child abuse. Socially shun the shopkeeper who uses child labourer. Report the incident to police.

– If you hear of any incidence of child marriage or child abuse, do not hesitate to intervene.

– Be careful and aware of any change in behaviour of a child known to you. Talk to her. She may be a silent victim of abuse.

We MUST make this world free of any forms of violence and abuse for children so that they may say loudly : We are the world , we are the children.

Song 5: ‘We are the world’

dsc_1962Narrator: BLACK. The mere mention of the word evokes a sense of hatred, disgust and discrimination. Black equals discrimination and discrimination equals black. M.T.Oliva was minutes away from his birthday. Thinking of his family back home, the twenty three year old African student was walking back to his temporary home in Vasant Kunj area in New Delhi. Following an argument with local men after some racist comments, the young African was killed with stones and sticks. And it was just one of the many incidents of racist hatred that young Africans face each day all around the work.

If someone is different from our socially set norms of ‘beautiful’ we exhibit a sense of disgust.

– We talk about unity and equality but still refer to our friends from Arunachal, Assam or Sikkim as ‘Chinkies’ and Africans are always ‘blackies’ for us.

– So much disgust there is about the dark skin color in Indian mind-set that Fairness Creams have the largest share in skin care sector, recording a steady growth of 15-20% every year.

– Dark skin has been considered as one of the strong reasons for increased dowry demands.

But ‘leaving no one behind’ needs an acceptance of all as one – without any discrimination or prejudice. So,

– Stop referring to and discourage others to refer to someone as a ‘blackie’, ‘nigger’ or ‘chinky’ merely on the basis of how they look.

– Believe in the fact that everyone is a creation of God and an insult to His creation is an insult of God himself.

–  Make every young person aware that her skin colour is her own asset and she should be proud of it.

– And for heaven’s sake, Stop advertising for or seeking  a ‘fair, slim, good-looking’  bride.

Remember, the Sun shines for all – without discrimantion, the moon soothes all- without discrimination and the stars twinkle – without discrimination. Believe that : Hum ek hai : We are all One.

Song 6: ‘Hum ek hai’

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Cycle of Happines

Twice I shouted “Rijul, Rijul” – there was no response. Rijul is my grandson. He has just finished his 10th standard high school exam, and now on a long term holiday till the results are out. This is now late noon, and, he is not to be seen anywhere. Now I shouted really loud….. and was I sounding a bit angry !                               

photo2379After a little while he surfaced from nowhere, with dust all over his body and face ! “Look grandpa what I discovered from the junk room….. a bicycle ! It needs a bit repair, but I think this can be made a nice one to ride”.  It was a bicycle alright, but, I was not so sure that this could be salvaged for any use !

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Pakhi was happy today. Deep had promised to take her out in the evening for shopping. She did not have  much to shop….. a small bottle of  plain coconut oil – she normally does not like those fancy ones with strong  flowery smell. She would also buy a simple soap. In fact she told Deep about these two needs last month itself. But Deep said that he is yet to get his salary. His salary comes by bank draft from Bangalore. His organisation has the head office there. She has not quite understood the work he does.  It is some kind of missionary type….. in fact Deep  had a loud laugh when she wanted to know whether he works for any Church Mission.  You mean to say whether I am  “Rev. Deep” or “Pastor Deep” ?  There after Pakhi had not expressed her curiosity to know about his work, but, she was sure he must be doing some kind of work related to ‘helping people… young people’….. many of them come to the house …. to discuss something or the other with him.

This morning Deep had said he has already got the bank-draft deposited in the bank, and, in the evening he would bring home some cash. This is the first salary in their three month old married life !  It was already late evening, and Pakhi already had undergone a long wait. She went near the main door and waited for some time. She was now visibly looking worried.

Kring….kring….kring… there was this sound of a bell ringing quite near the main compound gate. Pakhi , from a suburban area, was well versed with this sound of a cycle-bell. In her own house her elder brother had one.  She rushed out towards the gate and lo behold, there stood Deep, standing with a new cycle!  Throwing a large smile he announced “This one I just bought, it took a little time to fix some extra fitting…. like a seat-cover, a light, a carrier… “

Pakhi did not utter a single word about the outing programme that Deep had promised her.. instead caught hold of the cycle handle and took it towards the courtyard and softly uttered “You must be tired, go inside, I will put the cycle on the stand and come.”

Over a cup of hot tea Deep explained, for the next fifteen minutes, about all the excellent things about the cycle. After a while Deep said contemplatively “There is something I am forgetting…..what was that…. some thing about going somewhere !!! Oh yeah, I now remember…. next week there is a conference in Bangalore, I will take you along… you will enjoy surely…. they call it a garden-city.” He took out an envelop and handed over to Pakhi “I have already booked the tickets. The tickets are in this envelop. Keep them safe”.  Pakhi got a fairly clear idea about the rest of her life and the life-style of themselves as a couple!

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“Grandpa, you did not tell me whether you like my idea or not “?

“Oh, surely …. it is a grand idea…. get the tool box from up-stair, we will get on to our work right away “ .

Right now, I am at a repairing spree….repairing memories alongside!

 

 

 

 

8 For PEACE !

peace-8

8 For Peace !

These are 8 poems/songs on seeking Peace on Earth and for a more Humane World. In earlier postings already 2 poems were shared with you i.e. Cry Peace and Someone Waiting. Here are the rest 6 :

3.No One Wins a Battle

No one wins a battle, none wins in a War,
Just by killing others, you can’t go too far.
None is made happy that way, none is made happy that way,
The blood-stain in your hands, haunts you in the night, haunts you in the day.
Say No, No to War.

If you sow the seeds of anger and hatred,
You only let the passion of violence spread.
None is made happy that way, none is made happy that way,
The blood-stain in your hands, haunts you in the night, haunts you in the day.
Say No, No to War.

Millions get killed, billions are spent in a day
Just to save someone’s ego, what a huge price to pay.
None is made happy that way, none is made happy that way,
The blood-stain in your hands, haunts you in the night, haunts you in the day.
Say No, No to War.

4.Peace Is The Arms

Let’s have arms which are useful for whole humanity
Which kill nobody nowhere but bring-in sanity,
Peace is the arms we need,
Peace, Peace, Peace.

Let’s seek justice for all, end all poverty
that we strengthen the weak, end all captivity,
Peace is the arms we need,
Peace, Peace, Peace.

Is there someone who is conscious of the whole reality
Work, work now is the time, now is the opportunity,
Peace is the arms we need,
Peace, Peace, Peace.

5.No One Is A Stranger

No one is a stranger in a world of friends,
No one is alone in a world of love,
Lets work for change, lets work for change,
Lets work for Peace.

It is a one world, a great family
A little smile can make it happy
Lets work for change, lets work for change,
Lets work for Peace.

Make it a new world where none is hurt
Where all are one, and all are just
That’s what we need, that’s what we need,
That’s what we seek.

6.A Better Day

If you give me a song to sing
I will sing for a better day.
A day when no one hates none
and acts as if human being.
Give me a better place to live
Give me a better place to stay
That’s all, that’s all I have to say.

If you give me poem to read
I will read for a better world.
A world where no one hungry
there is enough for all to feed.
Give me a better place to live
Give me a better place to stay
That’s all, that’s all I have to say.

If you give me a dream to dream
I will dream for love and peace.
Is there none to listen to cry
and none to hear the scream ?
Give me a better place to live
Give me a better place to stay
That’s all, that’s all I have to say.

7.There Are Bigger Wars

There are bigger wars to fight,
there are greater battles to win
when millions go hungry,
there are better causes to be in.
There are million children who do not have clothings,
when millions go naked there are better wars to win.

There are many a lot women, tortureed day out day in
when half of the world silenced there are beteter wars to win.

8.Its your Money

Its your money, its my money
Its every one’s money they spend,
to buy the arms, to buy the guns
to run a foolish race.
eh, what sort of fun is this. what sort of fun is this !

Its your wife, my husband
Its our children get killed,
somebody somewhere make a good profit
get their pockets filled.
eh, what sort of fun is this. what sort of fun is this !

It’s our environment ecology
everything they just ruin,
Is nuclear power, some good weapons
all for our gain ?
eh, what sort of fun is this. what sort of fun is this !

If you wish to listen to the songs ….. click the link below

8 for peace – audio

If you wish to view the video playlist of the songs … click the link below

8 for Peace … video