Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Value of Life in Mumbai

Last Thursday (18th March, 2010) while coming home in the 8.48 pm Virar local from Mumbai Central, I went through a strange experience. I got a seat in the First Class Ladies compartment. The adjacent and visible Second Class Ladies compartment was very crowded. The train started moving. After a while, there was a loud scream-like sound when a fast train passed in the opposite direction on the adjacent track. I was trying to catch a little shut-eye after a hectic day but opened my eyes with a jerk. Some females sitting in the compartment I was in, were a little taken aback! We looked surprisingly at each other. I thought it was some boy or a group of boys in the moving train on the adjacent track screaming out while passing by the Ladies Compartment. This generally happens. Men screaming out at Ladies in the opposite train…

Suddenly there was a mini commotion in the Second Class compartment. We were still trying to figure out what had actually happened. Then there was a talk that a woman had fallen off! But the train kept moving and except a little talk, people seemed unaffected. Some of us were shocked to hear about it. Imagine you are traveling in a crowd and almost neat the footboard and the woman next to you goes ‘Plonk’ and down under! No one even pulled the chain or called for help. Generally women pull the chain of the train over petty fights within. But in such a situation everyone was more concerned about reaching home early! And this was like a normal thing in Mumbai and so one cared! We were not sure of the news as it happened in the adjacent compartment and there was already a crowd near the door of the train to figure out if anybody had fallen. Most had an expressionless face, as if trying to show that they had nothing to do with what had happened in case anyone questions them. No one gave a clear response to our queries.

A few of us were stunned and didn’t know how to react! Then the talks started…. In Mumbai, people only talk and blame. And when people talk, especially in the Ladies Compartment, it’s mostly unkind words. Whoever or however had fallen off the train was a female. And when a female is involved in anything, it’s mostly her fault. Some people started saying that maybe she had already contemplated suicide and hence jumped! A woman’s life ended in a strange way only attracted selfish and cruel talk. The girl sitting opposite me was angry at such loose talk. Knowing people’s attitude of meanness for getting space to stand in a Virar local, I thought to myself that someone could’ve pushed her too! And such things never get reported nor booked. People, who see such things, act ignorant to avoid police enquiries later. Anything was possible. We neither saw the lady nor could ascertain if such a thing actually had happened.

Then suddenly we heard a voice of a woman in the adjacent compartment trying to call the Railway Helpline (whose numbers are prominently displayed inside the compartments) and inform them about the incident. But she only ended in screaming and answering irrelevant questions and maybe faced network problem later! Nothing came out of it. It appeared that there was unclear response from the other end. So neither was the Railway interested nor concerned. Maybe for them it was just another of the several such incidents which keep happening in crowded Mumbai locals! And for that they didn’t want any services to be disrupted and further invite the wrath of the frustrated Mumbai crowd! Listening to that, the female next to me started speaking. Seeing our shocked and sorry expressions, she said that these kinds of incidents are regular to Mumbai and no one bothers about them and they keep happening. She asked us not to get upset by such things. Then she started her story. She had moved to Mumbai a few years back. When she was pregnant and in her seventh month, a man had almost pushed her while getting into the train. And when she had fallen down, the some ladies stamped her and got into the train. No one bothered to help her. Everyone was only concerned about getting into a crowded local. That’s was her first taste of the heartless nature of Mumbai. After that she said that she’s seen several such incidents and by now she doesn’t react to any.

Then she went on to narrate a few. As we all know, the new tracks laid have 25000 volts power in the overhead electric wires. The Railway keeps announcing the same time and again and also keeps warning people not to travel on the roof of the train. But every human being has the tendency to believe that nothing can happen to him / her. We are always used to seeing others in the news that we cannot imagine ourselves in that position. So some smart alecs also travel on the train roofs, quite sure that they’ll be safe. The female next to me went on to relate such an incident where she saw a man position himself between the space of two bogies since not traveling on the roof was announced. The train started and man was sucked up and stuck to the overheard wire and electrocuted! She also narrated a similar incident, when she and her friend boarded a train from Andheri station and suddenly there was smoke. Many women were scared and jumped off the train only to realize that a man had got stuck to the overhead electric wire. That’s where the smoke was coming from!

People kept talking amongst themselves and sharing their strange train traveling experiences. Then when their stations arrived, people got off the train. The life lost was almost forgotten….

The next day, a stranger incident happened in my train journey…. Keep watching this space for details!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Splurging people's money!

Gosh ! Mayawati's massive money garland has been the talk of recent times! First almost spoiling the backdrop of Taj Mahal in the Taj corridor issue, her birthday dramas, the self statues, then elephant statues.... she's always in the news for all the wrong reasons! Yet she cries foul on being questioned and talks about Dalit issues!

She splurges money on non-development . Her birthdays can cause a hole in many pockets and once it even reportedly cost someone his life for not contributing for the cause! A party worker even wanted to present her with a plot on the moon, it is heard. Her self -obsession has seen lots of money being spent on making her own statues! It's very rare to see statues of live people, that too build by themselves. This might have happened during the rule of Emperors and the like... and later destroyed by new kings or rulers! I wonder if we even have enough statues of great people of our country. And one cannot hope to go down history as a great leader just by many huge statues! Nor do statues make a person big or small, it's one's deeds which people remember. In history, all this might go down as a piece of 'gimmick'. If self-statues weren't enough, we next heard of the party symbol- 'Elephant' being immortalised ! And now we have crores of rupees being spent in the name of the party's 25th anniversary celebrations through garlands and rallies and other expenses! And whose money is this? State money, which is 'people's money'. And when it's people money, it calls for 'Right to Information' (RTI) on how the BSP funds are being handled. The other enquiries and probes come later.

Whenever Mayawati is questioned about anything or not considered for any position or role, she starts screaming 'Dalit, Dalit'. But why does she not think of the starving, hungry children of the Dalits when her party workers waste money on merry-making and rallies and statues! The unemployed Dalit men and women can be employed within the villages through Small Scale Industries and Welfare Projects with the crores of money, which is spent elsewhere. Why doesn't the Dalit community itself voice their concerns over using their name just to come to power? Or is the community made to think that their place is where it is and they should not expect more than what is given to them! Most caste divides were made by the rich, powerful and the religious leaders themselves to show their supremacy... and it seems to continue to this day! If the Dalits are given good jobs, money etc then on whose name will these parties earn their votes???

Click on below link to view the various times Madam M has been in the news

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Most Eligible Bachelor indeed !

I’ve caught a few moments from the recently concluded ‘Rahul Mahajan Swayamvar’. It projected him like the most eligible bachelor in India. We all know his past antics – his drug abuse, wife abuse, his career which didn’t take off, his behaviour with 2 girls on Big Boss! But when you saw the girls who were eager to be his better half, they were mostly models and actresses who were used to limelight and being in the news. I don’t know much about all the contestants (as I didn’t follow the programme properly), but I guess only Nikunj was a non actor. You want good people to win most contests, but in this case I am happy she was not selected. Maybe in the long run she too will realize that. Rahul’s behaviour throughout the show appeared very un-gentlemanly!

I saw the Sangeet programme on 5th March, more so because it was a glamour event and had some dhamaal masti. I also caught the final moments of the actual garlanding of the bride, followed by the wedding ceremony on 6th March. Maybe Rahul has finally found his match this time around (literally)!

I don’t know what others think, but according to me the entire concept of a having a 'swayamwar' for a boy is somewhat incorrect. That too in Indian society, where failed engagements and broken rishtas can cost a girl a lifetime of non-marriage! What surprises me is that these girls’ families allow their daughters to break their own heart. The purpose of a swayamwar was originally for a girl from a princely family to select the most eligible bachelor. In those days, females never openly spoke out their choice, so ‘swayamwar’ came to the rescue, where the best men were chosen to participate. This 'reversed swayamwar' of Rahul Mahajan made a mockery of giving girls a right to choose. The first and second swayamwar were both a way of adding adult contents on television in the disguise of Indian culture. Having mehndi and sangeet ceremony with three people of the opposite sex is kinda kinky! And I find the participation of the respective families in all this nautanki including the final function even more stupid, where two people walk home feeling small and heart-broken! The selection (or swayamwar) should be earlier followed by sangeet and finally marriage with the selected person. Because in the end, you never know whether to treat the final wedding party as a celebration of the new couple or a mockery of the non-selected ones !

Monday, March 08, 2010

How movies influence kids !

My sister’s nephew, who is in 2nd standard, is a big Salman Khan fan. He loved the movie ‘Wanted’ very much. He lives in Baroda. One day he was making plans with his friends for playing. His mom told him not to go anywhere as he had not done his studies. Suddenly he gave a look to his Mom and came close to her. Then he blurted out, ‘Maine ek baar commitment kardi toh fir main apni bhi nahin sunta!’ – a dialogue straight out of the Salman starrer ‘Wanted’!!! (meaning – ‘once I make a commitment, then I don’t even listen to myself’.)