Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Aren't Our Rickshaw Walas The Richest Community After All?

Rickshaw walas are undoubtedly one of the richest communities in Mumbai. A businessman is constantly looking for clients, a shopkeeper tries his best to sell the product, and brands spend millions in advertising and marketing to get a boost in sale and market share. But not our rickshaw walas! They are least perturbed. They work according to their whims and fancies.

Heavy downpour, innumerable mini lakes and ponds on the roads and a throng of commuters wrestling with their umbrellas and running behind every single empty auto asking if he would be kind enough to drop them to their desired destination. But it only takes a second for that auto driver to say no and take his empty auto on an indefinite voyage.

It seems to me that our helplessness is a kind of sadist amusement for these auto drivers. They wander the streets and with their vacant autos waving their rejection on our faces. This happened with me today. I had to go to the Post Office and I asked this rickshaw wala if he would take me there. He said, “nahi madam, aage bohot traffic hai. Abhi nahi jayega.” Considering how firm they are to their word I moved on in the deluge seeking many more rebuffs.

After a while I saw this same fellow roving round and round generously snubbing everyone giving the same excuse he gave me. The only sane inference I could come up with after this was that they are all god damned critters. And of course bloody rich.

Only a rickshw wala, in Mumbai, can say no to business. He would rather sit in a corner with a cutting, music blasting in his “office” chatting away with others of his kind. Every now and then they make their way into the news demanding hike in fare or they would go on a strike. Aren't they always on some sort of a virtual strike? Whether they are on strike or not, the scene is not very uncommon for the commuters. The only thing that changes is the upshot the hyped strike has on our pockets.

I’m being a pessimist here but I do not envision any recuperation in this condition any time soon. There is always a huge chunk of people standing at the stands waiting for an auto. And then there is this other chunk of people who are mostly headed in the same direction on their bikes or cars. They say Mumbai is spirited and helpful and full of life. This may be true in case of a disaster but not always. Those people on bikes and cars can always offer a lift to the other chunk. Sadly, that never happens.

The battle continues. Sometimes you are lucky. Most of the times, you are not.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Marian Keyes - The Other Side of the Story

 Time is a flawed concept. It is one of the shittiest jokes that nature could ever play. But just like everything else, we endure it. Much like time, happiness is a rotten concept. So much has been written and spoken about it that now it seems almost idealistic.

I was, and someplace deep inside still am convinced with this. There comes a phase when almost everything and everybody is conspiring against you. Every single action or event compels you to believe that you are now rotten, just like happiness.

You sit in a corner of your room isolated, free from all the chaos, delimited by absolute silence. And that silence is the root of your agony. You longed for it when you didn't have it. But when you finally got it realization dawned and it hit you in the face.

Amidst the noise of silence, I did what I do best. Embracing the isolation, I picked up a book and crossed the threshold into the virtual world. Marian Keyes’ ‘The Other Side of the Story’ is rather an unusual story. But a perfect book to read in times when you are on your way to self-destruction. The books starts on a wrecked note and you realize that it is perfect. Reading about other people’s miserable life is somehow comforting when you are on the same page as them.

But as the book progressed, it delivered a strong vibe of optimism. Not the clichéd concept but the kind where it tells you to stop over-analyzing, take a deep breath and deal with whatever shit you are going through. The lives of Gemma, Jojo and Lily are portrayed in a very realistic fashion and that’s what made the book so appealing. It is fast paced and makes you bubble up with happiness inside.

After all happiness, however rotten it is is a rare thing and we have to take our chances where we find them. We want to do the right thing – but how do we ever know? There are no guarantees. I could rationalize until I was blue in the face but then why not just accept and smile.