Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let Me Stop

I run without destination
Chasing shadows, Ive fought my will
The monsters close in if I stop
So here I am- running still...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kolkata safe for women drivers??

Time: 10.30 am
Place: Salt Lake Sector 3, near Stadium
Bus No: WB 02 Y 1928

The road is itself bad, horrendous. Anyone travelling that route will know your car is at a risk if you dont go at 20 kmph. I was coming from byepass road toward Salt Lake, travelling to office near PNB. The bus was one of those private buses ferrying people to office in Sector 5.

As I was negotiating the potholes, I was at the extreme right of the road, almost touching the divider but for a few inches. I saw the bus hurtling down from behind me, and slowly inching right, directly towards my car. I honked with all my might, braked, stopped. the bus simply came and hit my passenger door.

Of course I was not at fault. And hence, of course, I had to do something about it. My passenger door was anyway quashed. But I wanted to take the driver to the police. I drove right in front of the bus, in the middle of the road, the bus was trying to swerve and flee... and stopped. There was enough space on both sides for traffic to cross, I had made sure of that. I got down and approached the driver. Even then I could see men hanging their heads out of the window shouting at me to move. Then it started.

The men ranged from my age- early 30-s to late 50-s. They surrounded me, first 5 then 10 then slowly maybe 25... surrounded me and started shouting, abusing, just short of touching. I said call the police, I want this sloved. The moment I said police, they started banging on my car. I was inside the car then having taken down the number of the bus. They started hitting my car on all sides, screaming at me to move. They started pushing my car. A mob of grown educated well dressed professionals... they were getting late for work.

I had a camera phone but I did not take photos. I wish I had taken the photos of the screaming mob and posted them everywhere so that employers would see them, families would see them. Men, employees, surrounding a lone woman in a car and abusing her, trying to intimidate her into moving away. But then maybe they would have taken and broken it anyway.

This is what men in Kolkata do. Nincompoos, good for nothing backboneless saviours of society.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Shishu Sadan, Thakurpukur

Priyanka is a student of Class 9. She writes- poems and short stories. Her poems are well thought out protests against social ills, against smoking, or a call to youngsters to rise and serve their country. Her stories are memorable, full of ghosts and villains and innocent girls. She is bright for her age. She sings a little, dances a little. She could have a bright future, maybe graduate with honours if she tried, and study further and have a good career of her choice. She has a career of choice. She wants to be a nurse. She will complete her 10th and go for nurse's training. Why, you ask? Priyanka is an inmate of Shishu Sadan, an orphanage, that she was sent to when she was 5, by her mother. Her mother is the only earning member of a family of four and could not afford to keep her at home.

In Thakurpukur, near the Cancer hospital, tucked away is this home for needy girls. With an inmate count presently of about 100 girls, between 5 and 18 years of age, it gives shelter to girls who have lost either or both parents, or are too poor to be sustained by their family.The girls go to school in nearby areas, education is in Bengali board. They are sent here by relatives or aquaintances and probably get the childhood here that they would have otherwise lost. They study, play, sing and dance, cook and do some gardening too.

The orphanage is not in very pristine condition though. The main rooms are fine, though like very old homes without maintainance, they have paint peeling off the walls showing plaster, furniture a mix of metal, wood and plastic. There is a 'teacher in charge', a lady in her 50-s who, the girls told me, takes good care of them, much like a mother. The caretaker is a man of 45-ish, and seemed to me to be kind and simple, with the wellbeing of the girls as his primary concern. Apart from that I did not get the necessity of the presence of the couple of men that I saw, one with half open shirt and bad manners, the other most probably the account keeper.

The living area of the girls have no separate gate or boundary but can be walked to easily from the reception rooms. The bedroom consisted of 2 attached sheds, with open asbestos covers. It would be open to climate influences, both in winter and summer. The bedroom seemed at that time to be quite unkempt and unmanaged, beds all falling on each other, floor unswept, untidy to my somewhat finicky eyes. Maybe I was expecting something unrealistic.But the girls looked happy. They study and learn to sing and dance and some art, when they get some volunteer teachers, the orphanage cant afford to get paid teachers. They have a cook who they help in teams to prepare all meals. That is how they learn to cook. They have to leave when they complete their 10th standard. Some of them become nurses, others go back home and I never really got to know what happens to them. I did not hear of even one girl continuing studies. They are too poor to afford it.

It is a great thing that these girls are getting a chance at life. They are not spending their childhood working i people homes as maids, getting abused, or cooking in tiny rooms with a dozen siblings to take care of. They are normal, leading normal childhoods. I just wish something could be done that they have a normal adolescence and normal adulthood, continue studies till a level, and work in respectable professions which gives them financial independence. Only that could pull them and their whole families out of the muck that is Indian poverty.

Shishu Sadan
Save the Children Trust
Near Cancer Hospital, Thakurpukur
To contact- please write to me

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fast Track Novels to Ghajini

There is an article in a newspaper about writers churning out novels in a month. And they going on to become best sellers. I mean, what am I. Verbally challenged? Or brain dead. I cant even think of a decent story-line for a short story!!! When I start writing, I usually make it to 500 odd words. And then I get bored, or hit a wall, or both. I need inspiration, people. Lend me some inspiration.

Like, you know, Ghajini or something. Amir Khan went on record saying that Ghajini is not a remake of Memento. Its a true inspired piece, as the director heard about the concept of Memento and then wrote the whole story without watching the film. Then after finishing the story he watched the original and saw it was quite different. Whatever, who cares. How many of us have watched Memento anyway. And of those who have watched, how many have understood. And those who have, how many would like to believe it could be remade in Hindi, or any other language, unless its a frame by frame copy.

But hey, does the most low profile Khan look hot in the movie. HELL, YEAH! The first few seconds of the promo, I mistook him for the other Khan, no, not Shahrukh-much-ado-about-sixpack-Khan, but Salman-o-o-jaane-jaana-shirtless-Khan. Watch it to believe it.