Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I live near "Barselas"

Sitting in the balcony, I can hear familiar sounds. The harried mothers calling out to their children to finish homework, prepare for the tests, have snacks. The aunties who used to call out to our playmates, still keep a watchful eye, though on the generation next … their grandchildren.

Same games … in same nooks and corners of the historic “Barselas”.

“The Barselas” …  the favourite hanging out place of growing and grown-ups in our block.

Children love it. Hide and seek, box cricket. You name it and they have played it there.

So do the old. They get to enjoy the cool breeze of the evenings. And they get to gossip.

Come winters and they become a haven for all those seeking the blessings of Sun Lord.

The massive tombstones look frightening at the night. As if some unknown is lurking in there, ugly and menacing. Fears, which cannot face the daylight.

Every now and then, a government appointed caretaker comes and looks after the monuments. Once in a few years, the tombstones are scrubbed and cleaned meticulously.

Sometimes a tourist (mostly from outside India) comes to have a look and click away photographs. The locals apprise them of the history since the board put up by ASI (Surprised! Yes, the Archaeological Survey of India has these monuments duly registered with itself) does not give away much information. But this is rare and I wonder if we have had a fortune of being host to one in long time now.

And every once in a while, these tombstones are scrubbed and cleaned meticulously. By the orders of royalty or by the orders of ASI … I am not sure.

The monument is 486 years old and was built in 1525 by the royalty of Mandi. The most imposing funeral tablets in the state. They show the figure of the deceased king, his queen, maids, slave girls, kids, temples, courtiers and bearing other inscriptions of historical value. These were built in the pious hope of guardian angel looking after the soul of the deceased.

Even today, if some member of the royal family dies, a monument gets built for him or her. They are not as elaborate or intricate as the older ones, but the tradition still continues.

And may this tradition continue for all the times to come. For these days, we are met with questioning glances when we specify “The Barselas” as the nearest landmark to our house; none other than locals interrogate about the existence of such a heritage in their very own town; their eyes roll out when the history is shared with them.

But the tall reminders from past, still hold their heads high. Content in their anonymity. Always widening their arms to welcome new buds with same old games.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I against Corruption

I know I am too old for bed time stories now. So does my dad. But every now and then, he tells me one to drive home some important pearl of wisdom. So as India goes crazy over Shri Anna Hazare and his anti corruption crusade, he though it apt to narrate the following story…

One day Chanakya received a visitor while the former was working on something important. The visitor noticed that Chanakya had two lamps, one on either side of his seat, and one lit while other unlit. The visitor could not understand the reason behind this and ignored it as trivia. Chanakya motioned him to sit. And then he blew off the lamp in the light of which he had been working and lit another lamp. The visitor could contain his curiosity no further and asked him openly if it was the custom of the land … not to receive the visitors in the light of already lit lamp.

To this Chanakya smiled and told him that when the visitor had arrived, he had been doing some official work and therefore, had been working in the light of the lamp that had been lit by official resources. But since, the meeting with the visitor was unofficial and personal; he could not waste the official and national resources and therefore had lit the other lamp that belonged personally to him.

It is only when each individual reaches this level of discretion of right and wrong, can we hope to have a non corrupt society. And individuals are the building blocks of societies and nations. Are they not? And let us also not forget that strong buildings cannot rest on weak foundations.

So, today keep Chanakya in your mind and ask yourself … Am I or am I not corrupt? Did I or did I not defect while performing my duties? And this is valid for any slightest form of defection. Not just the big hyped defection that we hear and see in news.

India against corruption … I support this … I heartily want to breathe in such an India … I too dream of such an India.

And for this dream to become a reality, every “I” will have to stand against corruption before “India” does.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

This alarms just keeps ringing ...

“Must be 6:30 in the morning. That is the time when my alarm is set to ring. Uhhhhh …. Where is the mobile.”

Without opening the eyes, the hand slides out of the covers and frantically searches for the phone.

It is usually kept in the mobile holder by the side of the bed.

But it is not there today.

The hand moves farther towards the headboard to continue the search.

The eyes are shut tight.

“Only, if I could find the mobile faster. I will get up in 10 minutes.”

The mobile is not on the headboard even. The hand was stretched as far as possible.

The eyes open. And they peep out from under the covers. To my left and to my right.

Ah .. there. 2 Little black lumps.  To my right. Diagonally overhead. (if the sleepy self is right on about the directions.)

The eyes close again. The hand moves in the right direction, like a servant obeying master’s orders.

The practiced hands then locate the correct button that will set the alarm to snooze and press hard enough. 
(The mobile is still in its cover, semiconscious mind tells.)

The alarm is still ringing. The eyes are still shut. Tight.

The hand then moves on to the next button that should read silence.  The button is pressed again.

The alarm continues to ring.

“Ok.. it will be the other mobile.”

The arm is stretched again in that diagonally right overhead direction and the other set is located.

The procedure to stop the alarm is repeated step by step as discussed above.

But  the alarm just keeps ringing.

“Sigh “

The hand brings the set closer to the eyes.

Eyes open. The alarm is not set … not on this one atleast.

“Wait … what does it say … 7:30 … that’s weird. Where is the other phone?”

The alarm is not set on that one either.

And it says 7:40. That’s ok … It has been set 10 minutes ahead.

That’s not ok … is should say 6:40.

“Specs! These figures are mere imagination.”

The hand moves to the bed side table … diagonally left. That’s where my spectacles are.

I quickly wear them and look at the mobile again.


Beaming. “Atleast I can still read something without my specs. Great.”

Not beaming. “I am late. Again. Not so great.”

Crawling out of the bed, the still sleepy feet try to fit themselves in the slippers.

The touch of the cold floor sends shivers through the whole body.

I wake up instantly. One last long look at the big brown clock on the wall tells me that I am definitely late.

And, I can still hear my alarm ringing.

I come out of the room and there it is.

The wash timer alert of our Samsung washing machine… that has no button that reads silence.