As I journey through life, I see so many things. Some things touch my heart, some things leave a bad taste and others just leave memories- good and bad. All that I feel strongly about, I wish to jot down thru these pages of mine.... You are welcome to see this world through my eyes.
People who are intolerant towards others, give others gyan on accepting others.
People who don't allow others on their land, tell others how they should be open to people from other regions.
People who want to go to Western and European countries and want only justice and impartiality and acceptance, are the ones to smirk at people of different cultures and colour in their own land. And if they see foreigners or North Eastern people from their own country, they're full of judgement and jokes.
People who treat their own family members with respite, preach to the society about humanity.
People who are non-supportive about the dreams of their own family members, talk of self confidence and life's lessons to the world.
People who do not venture out of their homes or regions much and have not been there, have a say about how everything else should be in every place on earth.
People who steal from taxes and make false bills and documents for tax deduction, are those who speak most about honesty and paying taxes.
People who secretly hate people of other religions and support dividers of society are the ones who scream about secularism and nationalism from their rooftops.
People who do nothing even basic for the poor and underprivileged people around them, speak most about social work and equality in society.
People who commit many sins of all kinds, speak the most about religion and quick to judge others.
People who believe in 'just me and my region' are those who talk of sunnah, disregarding hijra/ migration which is a major part of it.
People who've been losers in their lives and not played any sport are the ones who sit at home watching matches, games on TV and give comments on how each should have played. It's as if they were chosen, they would be responsible for the world cup for their country.
People who have no clue about where their own children go or do, are the ones who are most inquisitive about what's happening in their neigjbours' houses.
People who swoon and lust over other's girls, are the ones who keep their own daughters under the most restrictions.
People who don't know much about their own religion, are the ones who show eagerness (rather craziness) to do or die in the name of it!
People who disregard human life, often speak vociferously about animal rights!
What happened at Elphinstone Road station on September 29, 2017 in Mumbai was very unfortunate.
Everyone has written everything about it. From infrastructure issue to how stampede occurs to how people suffered. And I m not denying or refuting any of those. While authorities have their duties, so do us.
I'd like to narrate the circumstances that lead to such clogs in Mumbai, which could be hazardous to many. And lead to situations similar to these.
On the same day, at the same time I was at Churchgate station. The reasons were the same.
What exactly led to this ?
There was strange situation wherein it rained in the night and through early morning in South Mumbai. Whereas in the suburbs there was no sign of rain. In fact after 2 days of no rain, the morning was dry. So, people left their houses without umbrellas or raincoats. Usually the South Mumbai and Suburban side of Mumbai reflect rains after 1/2 hour to 1 hour of each other or rain simultaneously. Or at least when one side is raining, it's cloudy on the other side, giving an indication that it might rain anytime. However, there was no such indication. Usually people carry umbrellas in rain even if its not raining at that moment. Since previous two days it hadn't rained, people didn't do that!
Another thing is that it was Navaratri and entire Mumbai had been following a colour code. And since Saturday (next day) was Dassehra holiday, many people had Traditional Day in office. Many ladies had to take extra trouble to dress up and no one bothered about carrying an additional thing as umbrella.
People boarded trains from far suburbs and when the trains crossed Andheri-Bandra, they realised that it was raining heavily towards the Southern side of Mumbai.
On reaching destination people were in a fix. Most didn't have umbrellas. Usually, only a few are unequipped for the rains. However, on Friday, it was the other way round. 80-85% people were not prepared for the rains. And many were dressed well for office. In such situations, even people who don't have umbrellas nor any inclination to step in the rain, stand near the entrances and block them waiting for rains to stop.
I was dressed in a long kurti and fancy lehenga and dupatta and had no umbrella with me. So I was in a fix. My destination is Churchgate. When I reached the station, I saw crowd at all the exits. Even those who had umbrellas found it difficult to go through. Now, Churchgate is a big station and has 4-5 big exits and a broad stairway on 2 sides. Even with so many exits, the situation was bad. Plus, many office management in Mumbai do not accept even one minute delay excuse. So what does one do in such a situation? I had a buffer of 30 mins with me, however the rains were showing no signs of stopping. So I informed my office supervisor. I waited at the bottom of the stairs. Then I went to see the situation at the entrance and stood for few minutes. However, soon the crowd started filling with nasty people and the crowd was beginning to get unruly. Though, it was difficult to step out in the rains and puddles with a lehenga, I decided it was best to move out in the rain and wait for a bus. I stepped out and saw a shoemaker's shed, where few were standing for shelter and stood with them. A little part of my right shoulder was getting wet. Even though it was raining, the humidity was extremely high. I was getting wet with sweat and rains!
Finally, a bus came and I got in with a lot others. I reached my stop and ran into my office and reached just in time. After 30-45 minutes of reaching office, the news of Elphistone Road tragedy started pouring in. And the situation I faced at Churchgate station flashed before me. While Churchgate has the infrastructure to take the pressure of the crowd, many stations are narrow like Charni Road, some stations on Central and Harbour line. And they have single narrow bridges. There used to be similar situation in Dadar and Borivali earlier. And similar situation in Kanjur Marg, with expanding industrialisation in the surrounding area. But some years back, all these stations got upliftment. The stairways improved, escalators were added in some stations. Then situation improved. However, you can never predict a crowd. Especially during peak hours. People do not have the patience.
I had to wait 20 minutes at the station and before the crowd got difficult, I decided to walk into the rain and decide my next move. However, 20 minutes during morning office hours is too much in Mumbai. People are in a hurry, travelling by local trains is a mess, most offices do not have flexi working hours. Being the financial capital, everywhere there is a rush for money. There is a demand for jobs. There are a lot of people waiting to get in, so for people in mundane, regular jobs, there is a scare of being replaced. Other companies, cut the salaries of their employees. And the lower middle class people cannot afford to have a cut in their already paltry pays.
Because of all this, every morning you see a ruthless struggle and madness at stations. Blood pressures are soaring, people are brimming with nasty things to say... Everyone is running their own race. While getting in from Mira Road station (where trains usually come filled to the brim), the struggle is for a foothold only. And people's panic level as they are are unable to get into train after train, keeps increasing. Then they're immune to everything happening around them. Even if someone falls or trips while getting into a train, only 1-2 people will stop to pick them up, the rest 20-25 people will trample and push each other to get in. If everyone acts unruly, then you can expect some people to get under trains as well. Some, including ladies, get into trains hanging on one foot. Last week, a lady fell on the tracks between Mira Road and Dahisar. These are two stations on Virar line, which are most affected due to crowd combined with lesser frequency of trains.
Pic courtesy : indianexpress.com
Then there are those travelling from Virar-Vasai to Mira Road-Dahisar and insist on taking Churchgate bound trains instead of Virar-Borivali trains just because they stop on the 4th platform and its easier to exit without having to walk the overhead bridge. And these ladies are rowdy. They scream and hit others while trying to get off! When you manage to get in, you are so stuck to each other, you cannot even breathe.
Being a lady, I am speaking about the ladies compartment only now. The tradition of 3 ladies compartments in 12 and 15 coach trains hasn't changed one bit over the years. More and more ladies are working now as compared to earlier, whereas the compartments remain fixed. A few Ladies Special trains are run in the morning, however only one train is actually in the main peak hour. Later ones are okay only if you cannot get into any train after trying for one hour or for those who have late offices or for college students.
When you reach your destination with so much struggle and face more problem at the destination, your patience levels burst. It's important to remain calm, though easier said than done. Many people in Mumbai are now in a habit to rush, no matter what the time. During evening time, even if the crowd is less, people will start pushing you before the train even stops at the station! And after they get off the train, they will push you on the staircase for no reason. And later you see these people walking slowly on the road. Everyone only wants to show the others how busy they are! Worse are those, who block entrances when they don't want to venture out. They want to block and wait and watch. So eventually, a huge crowd gathers on bridges and stairways. And the people who have umbrellas and want to go ahead get stuck. If you have decided that you cannot step out, then remain at the bottom of the stairs and wait. Or decide where you want to be. Elphistone Road is one station which is still not revamped while in the surrounding area, some big corporate buildings have come up of late. Earlier, it was only a mill and industrial area and the major travellers to the station were the lower middle class. Now, there are corporates in the area. So one can expect a contrast crowd on the station. The people travelling to the station has increased, while the amenities haven't. The smart alecs who show that they're always in a hurry, tried to climb sideways across the bridge railings, creating more panic. The rush was eventually too much to bear. In such situations, if anyone moves or loses balance, it can result in stampede and tragedy. This is what happened. It could have happened on any station on Friday due to unexpected rains. However, Elphinstone Road was unfortunate enough and the people lost lives just going to office.
While on other stations, the bad elements in the crowd who look for opportunities to create mischief took over. I took the decision to walk out into the rain when people in the crowd started to act nasty...
Mumbai is brimming with increasing number of people and the public transportation, especially local trains, has a lot to make up for!
May the souls of those who lost their lives in the stampede at Elphistone Road station rest in peace.
I had the opportunity to know about this Trust through a Facebook page and a friend who knew the members a few months ago. Since then I have been associated with this organisation as an outside supporting member as well. I appreciate the excellent work being done by IFED in the poor areas of Kashmir, on the outskirts of Srinagar mostly. On my visit to Kashmir in July 2017, I got the opportunity to meet the members and be part of a free medical camp conducted by them in the Tribal area of Dignibal.
Here are some glimpses from their diary. In their own words.
Enlightenment & Developmentis a Charitable Trust Registered under Indian
Trust Act; 1882.It was setup in order to tackle the problems of poverty in Jammu
& Kashmir. Initiative for
enlightenment & Development is committed to the welfare of people from
the most underprivileged strata of society without distinction caste, Creed or
Color.IED emphasis on assisting the
children & youth, who are the citizens of tomorrow and the disabled who
need support to help them join mainstream society. The learning experience is mutual our volunteers gain
perspective and the experience to mould themselves into tomorrow’s leaders.
“There is no exercise better for the heart
than reaching down and lifting people up.”
Member of Initiative for Enlightenment & Development
inspecting the feet of a poor girl.
On 16th of Oct, 2017 the members of Initiative for Enlightenment & Development
carry out a survey in the remote area of Dignibal Ganderbal. Dignibal is the
village of district Ganderbal situated 12 Km’s away from main area. The purpose
of the survey was to get the overall developmental work being carried out in
the area. The survey was conducted by means of interacting with all the age
group and sex of the village. The survey conducted by IFED throws light on different problems faced by the inhabitants of
the village. They lack the facility of Health, Sanitation, Water, Jobs, transportation
and Child Care. There is no
transportation, health, Job facilities available for the citizens of the area.
The area has been left out by everyone; even the Government agencies do not
fulfill the basic requirement of the area. In general it was observed
that no such initiative to improve the sanitation, health or drinking water
facilities has been taken. It
would take a person almost 6 hrs in a day to purchase a small packet of Biscuit
or Tablet because of no market available in the area Many villagers
stated that the youth of the village has no employment opportunity in the area.
On the whole the children’s were seen doing the labor work mainly of the age
group of 08 to 12 yrs which is an alarming situation. No vocational training
centre (Like Tailoring) has been set up for the women /Girls. Widows, orphans
have been ignored as well as not any scheme has been implemented in the area.
Children doing labor work
Door To Door Campaign (Medicinal Relief)
On 23rd of Jan, 2017 the volunteers of Initiative for
Enlightenment & Development carry out program of providing medicinal relief
(including Vaseline, Glycerin) to the people of Dignibal Ganderbal. The weather
in the month of January mainly remains wet and it was snow all around and the
team of IED walked 12 Km’s by foot to reach the village.
Members walking on foot to reach the village
reaching the village, the Volunteers visited every single home of the village
and provided the medicinal relief to the people. The people of the village are
affected by the cold season mainly the children and women are affected as their
hands became very rough and itchy
Members visiting the homes of villagers
Checking the Rough Hands of Children
In winters it is very difficult for them to
work and earn livelihood for themselves. The intense cold and snow are so harsh
that they do not come out of their tents and houses. Our team decided to
distribute medicine with (& Glycerin, Vaseline), to give some relief to the
Providing medicines to Villagers
Mr. Showket Ahmad Khatana: a person with Burnt Leg
During our home to home
delivery of medicines we happen to meet one of the young men of the village
namely Mr. Showket Ahmad Khatana S/O: Mr. Mohammad Ibrahim Khatana who is 32
years old. Month earlier an accident
happened to him in which he got his leg burnt (from calf to Knee role).When we
asked his father about his medication he said, “I was not able to take him to
hospital due to bad weather condition, and I got myself injured my right arm
got fractured and there is nobody to look after. When we checked the leg of the
young man we were stunned.
Burnt Leg of Mr. Showket Ahmad Khatana
As the situation of his leg was very critical
we decided to bring him to the hospital, but to his luck Kashmir received the
heaviest Snowfall of 25 years during this month and we ourselves were helpless
and couldn’t do anything for two days. We approached the Public Health Center
Shuhama for the ambulance, initially they gave us the permission to take the
Sumo halfway and bring down the patient on Stretcher mid way, but after
following them continuously for two days they denied us the Ambulance and told
that they couldn’t take the risk of driving ambulance on the slippery hilly
road to Dignibal. We were left with no option but to contact the General
Physician working in one of the Government Hospital in Kashmir and related all
the narrative and showed him the video of the person. He was really moved by
watching the video and Pictures of the Injured person and praised all our
efforts in proving the some medication to the young man. After having a deep thought he suggested us to give
him the First aid and provided us all the medicines. Due to inclement weather
and harsh conditions the team IFED went
to Dignibal again to provide the first aid to the young man. It took us almost 2 and half hours to reach the house of injured person.
Members of IFED walking on foot to Provide Medication &
Dressing to the Burnt Person
After reaching the home of the injured person we tried to
provide him the medication in a best possible manner so that the wound get
healed up as soon as possible. As we followed the instructions of the Doctor we
provided the dressing to him and inspected the wound minutely so that it
doesn’t get infected. We provided him the medication in best possible manner
and gave him anti infective drugs as well.
Dressing up the wound of the Burnt Person
PEOPLE OF VILLAGE
During our second visit we happened to visit few homes of
the villagers. But we were astonished to see the houses of the people, and the
conditions were so pathetic. In this chilly weather, where the temperature is
below (-6 oC), the natives mainly women and orphans need to survive
without roofs over their head. They are living in small huts made of stray. And
we felt that lot of work needs to be done for them especially for the welfare
of Women and children. With this initiative of Initiative for Enlightenment
& Development a lot needs to be done for the people of the area.
of IFED inspecting the Tents& Sheds of People of the Village
Escorting Burnt Patient
to Clinic for Checkup
As the condition of the Burnt Leg of Mr. Showket
Ahmad Khatana was not right so, we decided to accompany him to Doctor’s Clinic.
We hired a cab and reached Main Dignibal Village. With the help of his mother
and other family member Showket Ahmad managed to reach there as it was
difficult to walk through dilapidated way covered with snow. As we escorted him
to doctor’s clinic and the doctor made a checkup of is wound, he suggested making
dressings after every alternate days and he also prescribed some antibiotics
& other medicines. After the checkup we purchased some vegetables for the
family as they were running out of the stock.
Escorting Mr. Showket Ahmad Khatana (Burnt Person) to
Visit to Burnt Person’s
Home Mr. Showket Ahmad Khatana for Checkup
As Mr. Showket’s
injury was critical and Doctor has advised him the dressings after every 2 to 3
days. During that period in Kashmir the
weather remains mainly wet and it was snowing heavily in the upper regions so
it was not possible for us to bring him down to Doctor’s clinic again, so our
team decided to visit his home and provide him dressings. We as a team brought
the first aid medicines and went to his home for the treatment. We manage to
check the wound and there was some slight improvement from the previous one and
we dressed his wound again.
Socio Economic Survey of Baba
Daryadin Area Ganderbal
Team’s main motive is welfare of the people of all sects and from every part of
Kashmir. We strive to help the people in need and make suitable arrangements
for their living. To get the facts and figures of the poor people our team
decided to do a small survey in one of the area of the Ganderbal i.e., Baba Daryadin.
It is one of the villages which are located in the hills and the people living
here don’t have Medical and Transport Facilities. We met some people of the
area and gathered some vital information. The survey conducted gave us some
picture about the living habitat and the problems they faced, and our team has
decided to include the village in the developmental projects going to start in
the later stage.
Carrying out the Survey in Baba Daryadin Ganderbal
BE PATIENT WITH PATIENTS WHO ARE NOT
As it was necessary to check the wound of the Burnt
Person Mr. Showket Ahmad Khatana, so our team again visited his home for the
dressing purpose on 18th Feb 2017, and made a checkup and necessary
medication was given to him. The condition of his wound is improving day by day
and he is feeling much better than before.
Socio Economic Survey of
SanghReshri Khimber Srinagar Area
As carrying out
the survey program is the main objective of any organization working for the
welfare of the poorest of poor and needy people, we at IFED has privilege to visit few villages of District Srinagar
namely, Khimber, Sang Reshi etc. The survey conducted was carried through
meeting several people living there and asking different questions regarding
their habitat and environment.
of IFED Interacting with people in SanghReshi Area of Srinagar
The Team of IFED visited few very poor homes of Villages
Wayil and Kondbal Manasbal. The condition of the families living there are so
bad that they don’t have bathroom for four houses living together at one place.
They live in sheds made of steel sheets. They hardly have any source of income
and rely on their house hold expenditure on Begging only. Now with these
conditions of these families we intend to help them out and make their living a
bit easier rather than comfort for them. Our program of Rehabilitation focuses
on those basic requirements of people to be fulfilled so that they do not sleep
Common Bathroom for Four Families
of Wayil Bala
This diary is till February 2017 only since that is the time I got to know about them and this was the profile they sent then. Post that the organisation has done more excellent work. They have improvised since and have big plans like making a toilet for people of Dignibal, who do not have a toilet and bathe in the open. Many don't bathe for this reason, even though there are clear streams.
You can check their activities and reach out to them for providing support on their Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/ifedganderbal/
Some anti-harmony and anti-unity agenda people of political parties are spoiling the very essence of India these days.
Every time it's upto Muslims to prove their patriotism. Just posting pics of The Tricolour does not prove your love for the nation. Maximum residents in the society I stay now are Muslims, and every year we have flag hoisting in our building.
My own grandfather was a freedom fighter. It's usually me who takes up the initiative in office also for doing something unique on Independence Day. Patriotism (I've begun to despise the word Nationalism now as some people have given a negative tone to it) does not mean loving the nation and hating it's inhabitants.
You can't say that you love your family, but hate your parents or your siblings. Then you are a hypocrite.
If any of you have any feelings of hate for any fellow countrymen of any religion or region, please do not say that you're a True Indian. We are Indians by birth, no doubt. But you're a True Patriotic Indian only by your actions.
I made a small attempt to bridge the misunderstanding about Kashmir by going on a trip during trouble times. I was faced with sarcastic comments about bringing back stones. I wanted to, because I love challenges, however my baggage was over permissible limit already. So I bought back this picture of a stone studded wall.
And when I was back from Kashmir and showed pictures of the place, the people, the videos and the momentoes for them, every thing changed. Everyone seemed eager to go there. People suddenly had good things to say. My staying with my friend's family was an attempt to show that its not just about tourists being left alone. I wanted to be a part of the culture and yet have my own identity there. I bought local clothes and stitched them in local fashion. Used local mehndi, though Mumbai mehndi cones are the best 😊. I could've stayed like a typical Muslim there as it comes naturally to me. However, I chose to be me. My city. A part of my land.
When I was going, some of my colleagues who know I m into Image Consulting, said that you're representing Maharashtra so choose your clothes well. So I tried to bring out the essence of Mumbai which is multi cultural and diverse, without being overtly shocking to the culture. Representing Maharashtra was an exaggeration and said in a lighter vein. When I told my Dad about it, he was like - 'Yeah, only Maharashtra doesn't know that you're representing it!' 😅
Jokes apart, I am glad I managed to change perceptions on both sides in whatever way I could. I believe that if you are in an influential position, use that power to make a positive change.
Like I always say, my favourite lines continue to be Spiderman's : 'With great power comes great responsibility'. Who am I? I m Barkha Shaikh, as my sister has now named me 🙃
Have you come across people who, to make others they dislike look non-likeable, look for ways to label them with a religion they dislike. They will come up with creative stories of how secretly they are Muslims or Christians or how they have secret affiliations?!
Their preposterous theories and those who forward and believe them, are a proof of how racist such people are! Their main agenda is - 'Hey, look. He's a Muslim / Christian. That's why he doesn't deserve to be a leader, a politician, a minister, or anything important'. Else, why the heck does it even matter if some important person was some specific religion openly or secretly.
With such people, just for the sake of accepting all their creatively fake stories, you should ask those who spread them - 'So what?!' And watch their reaction. It'll be like they took so much trouble to convince you and yet... Their entire propaganda balloon will burst!
Or use the 'Judge The Judge' technique like an expert communicator, learnt from my guru, Dan O'Connor : "So are you implying that just because you believe that the person belongs to a certain religion, he doesn't deserve to be a minister, a prime minister or hold an important position". And Watch them polarise! 'No, no, I didn't mean that. I respect all religions....blah blah...'! Cause judges don't like to be judged. At the end, you might add, 'Next time please do not forward racist messages/ emails to me'.
I've learnt the 'Judge the Judge' technique from Dan O'Connor.
For buying Dan's books in India and for conducting training on Techniques of Communication, Effective English Communication, First Impressions and other training modules, on Image management and soft skills, please write to email@example.com
You can also follow Dan O'Connor on YouTube on his channel Online Communication Training. (https://www.youtube.com/user/PowerDiversity)
Sunday night (June 11, 2017) I'd gone to a store to exchange a kurti (I'd already informed of my alternate choice the previous day), which was a matter of mins.
A 3 yr old beautiful kid (very fair with blonde hair) was sitting on the display table as his mom was checking out clothes. The moment he saw me, he said, 'Toh aa gaye aap?' (So you've arrived) As if he was waiting for me since centuries! His mom was startled and looked at me and smiled. And said that he's talking as if he's known you all along. Till then I thought the kid was talking to his mom. I asked the lady if he said that to me. She said 'Yes'. I looked at the little boy, who was serious, all the while watching me. He gave me an adult-like look. I told him, 'Oh, kaise ho?' (Oh, how are you?) He immediately responded saying that 'Noori bhi aayi hai' (Noori has also come) and pointed at his little sister playing in the store. Little Noori looked at me and I said, 'Hi Noori'. Till then my work was done and I said 'Bye' to the little boy and walked out.
That a totally freaky Fringe moment! I think our souls had met before we came on earth. :-)
It's a wonderful experience to mentor teenagers. I met mine last week at Markivs, Churchgate. Thanks to Antarang Foundation and HDFC Bank CSR.
My two mentees, Minakshi and Zarina are from Ambedkar Nagar slum colony. They have different backgrounds.
Zarina is a cancer survivor. She told me that her Dad never told her what her illness was. However, she mentioned that she underwent chemotherapy and did not have the harsh aftereffects of it. I admire her Dad who coming from a poor background has treated her like a fairy. She had her last session in December 2016. And she's full of life and dreams. She is now entering her final graduation year. It's not surprising that a strong girl like her landed up as my mentee. The universe is like a mirror. It reflects back what you send to it.
Minakshi is more outgoing of the two. She likes to do volunteer work, network, work part-time. Not too great in studies, she's creative. She likes to paint, design. She wants to be a fashion designer. Sometimes confused though. What can you expect from a girl who has just appeared for her 12th board exams. She too has dreams. And best thing is that she has the confidence of achieving her dreams.
Both of them like to design and stitch clothes. Zarina has a way with numbers, as she told me. And interested in finance.
While I am their inspiration, I am inspired by them. They are sorted and are compelled to think of their future and career at such a young age. At that age, we were still not decided about our careers. While they have to think about better financial future. Thanks to Antarang Foundation, which has given direction to their dreams. And after completion of their training program assigned them to mentors from the Industry for a year. My journey with them begins. I hope to make difference to their lives and future. in sha Allah. More as a friend than anything else.