AUTO- cracy (Auto aches and Meter matters)

“Meter se chalengi to aapko rasta batana padega ” ….. It was the high point of the day for me . It had been an awesome weekend at Delhi  but the autorickshaw saga had gone too far now and I burst out

” Accha agar meter off kar doge to tumhari yadaasht wapas aa jaayegi …..” .

The autowaala mellowed ” Nahi madam  ji … jo log meter se jaate hai unhe raasta pata hota hai” .My voice had gone haywire now and all three of us insisted that we would take another auto. It was 7:30 PM in the evening and we were outside a posh mall in VasantKunj . A place frequented by owners of chaffeur driven cars. I desperately wanted to get an auto and get out of that otherwise uninhabited area. We took a quick decision to take an auto to the nearest metro station ‘cos none of us knew the way back and it was getting dark. A city where a college girl gets shot in broad daylight on Women’s Day ; I sure wasn’t feeling good about being stuck at that place.

If you think that it was the end of several arguments with autorickshaw drivers , well the worst and perhaps the most provoking was still to come. We succeeded in intimidating the autowaala  enough to find another auto for us and we headed to the metro station.Both my friends and I were visibly annoyed by the whole ‘auto’ inconvenience.

Let me recapitulate the events of that day before I come to what finally instigated me to blog this. I reached Delhi on Saturday to spend the weekend with my old college friend who now works in a prestigious Medical College in Delhi as a pathologist. The plan was to see the Mughal Gardens and catch up the movie Black Swan if possible. I lived in Delhi earlier for approximately two years but I hardly travelled in autos … metro rail was the saving grace and I never failed to carry the metro card. The most scary/amusing  incident was when we hired an auto and the two tonne weighing sardar ji drove the auto like a meandering river. It was when a fellow autowalla yelled at the sardar ji at the traffice signal ..” Sardar ji tussi so rahe ho !!!!! ” that our hearts came to our mouths. The rest of the journey we looked for another auto to swap to but failing to find one we kept tapping that vast expanse of his back to keep him awake. But dearest sardar ji after reaching the destination, non- apologetically fought with us for an excessive payment.While we thanked for reaching alive we also  pointed out that ” Hell, you almost killed us …. and you don’t even have a meter !! “. Yes the good old meter… either it’s missing or out of order.

Anyways I was to face the ego dimension and defiance potential of the meter on this saturday afternoon. We found  an auto  and the salt-pepper haired driver switched on the meter for our journey to the Mughal Gradens. On reaching there we discovered that we reached  past the closing time. Though a bit dissapointed we decided we will visit next day and promptly searched for another auto to Cannaught Place so that we can perhaps catch the movie. Coincidentally we found the same autorickshaw- walla again. My friend made a good humored narration of the goof up and asked for CP. As we boarded again , the autowalla refused to start the meter this time and demanded 30 bucks. Both of us did not like this and further insisted. He refused to budge and thinking it to be a measure to make him change his mind I used the old bargain trick and  said ” In that case we can find another auto”. Well it fizzled out. To our great surprise he didn’t argue and went away without a ‘sawari’.

The next twenty minutes were spent in searching for another auto on the road in front of Rashtrapati Bhawan. Either they did not have meters or they refused to use it. My friend was tempted to complain to the policemen standing on that road. I kind of refrained . I must confess I never feel trusting of the policemen somehow. She finally thought of going without the meter and bargain for the fare but in vain.

My friend by now had started regretting leaving the 30 buck fare rickshaw.Thankfully we weren’t  shamed for our stand as we finally  found a autowalla who was law abiding and non-argumentive . When we reached CP the meter said Rs. 32. I wondered why did the old man did not switch on the meter ? All I could gather was may be a demand of switching on the meter caused ego trauma. Besides the fact that the autorickshaw guys blatantly refused to abide by the rules right under the nose of the head of the republic was astounding. After the goof up and the meter arguments we were lucky to catch the movie and rest of the evening passed by discussing the psychodrama Black Swan and the intense potrayal by Natalie Portman.

Sunday morning arrived and we headed for Mughal gardens as planned. Another friend joined us that day.So all three of us  walked out of the campus and found an autorickshaw  making sure that we hired the one that used a meter. As we have this small conversation, I tell my new friend about the auto hassel of the other day. I had really not suspected that there was more in store. This autowalla took a wrong turn and we realised he had no clue how to reach India Gate. It was then he confessed he didn’t know the way. The meter was ticking and we were wandering about the roads , stopping by every now and then on the roadside for the way. Perhaps then I realised why the autowalla did not create a fuss over the meter . He knew we are going to wander more then required.The annoyance was doubled by cars stopping beside our auto to enquire the way.  I wondered if it was an amnesic sunday or was it a day when all geographically challeged people decided to measure the streets.I was still amused at the whole thing while my friends, more adept with dealing with auto wallas, argued with him.

” Madamji pehele blue line bus driver tha… wahan se hata diya to auto chalane lage …..”

“Ouch !!  Blue line bus driver!!!” yeah explains it .. I thought.  By the time we finally reached the Gardens I lost count of the number of people who gave us directions and those who were conveyed that ”we are lost too.. sorry cant help”. The meter had risen to double the actual fare and we had another silly argument. The sea of people flooding the Mughal Gardens on that hot afternoon again forced us to change our plans and we landed at the Promenade mall at Vasantkunj to watch a movie.

Coming back to where I started.The metro ride from Vasantkunj was uneventful. We tried to dodge the final auto ride by looking for a rickshaw puller instead. Since we were three of us and none ‘zero’ sized we dropped the idea . The final  autowalla as expected  first demaned the fare at his discretion and then started the meter after an argument .As expected after switching on the meter he said “Rasta apako hi batana hoga”. By now my friends were in the area they frequently travelled and they confidently agreed. But the autowallas ego worked again and he took a longer route despite the directions given. This was the breaking point for me.I gave him a bashing and continued talking with my friends in an uninterrupted flow of english (mainly) and hindi directed to the driver. My voice truly revealed the sheer annoyance of two days of arguments over something that should be a rule.Truly flabberghasted by  the level of defiance that didn’t even consider the President’s accomodation. My voice had aqcuired a tone and volume that rose above the din of the traffic and the mechanical cluttering  of the auto. It had even quietened the argumentative and cheeky autowalla. Perhaps he was getting an idea that we weren’t bowing to his tyranny .

“what non-sense !!! Not a single autowalla goes withpout arguing about the meter..” I spitted out the concluding sentence with a dramatic intensity.

Then I heard a effortful sentence from the autowalla…

“In Delhi only 10% people want  meter”…. ahh so I get the statistics and the balme is on the people.His attidtude was abrasive and that made me bleed more angry words.

I burst out with  deliberate referal to the influential people I know and all sorts of ways I am going to highlight this anarchy.. about the probable authorities I could bring this in notice to. That these two days were like an education .. that I had no clue about the non-sense that commuters had to face day in day out. I did not allow the autowalla to speak again.

When I had adequately hushed the autowalla I gave my tongue a rest but I had already made up my mind to blog about this.As we entered the campus he had an insight….

“Aap log doctors hain kya ?”

So finally he realised and what came next seemed a counter argument he had been working on for what I had earlier said that corruption is not just the big scams … it has trickled down amazingly to the grass roots …He had started blaming doctors for prescribing unecessary tests and it showed he was trying hard to justify himself.But I could hear in his voice that he was feeling sorry for his behaviour. I was not intrested in anymore argument on corruption  ‘cos I did not know where the buck stops … Hell I did not know where it all starts?  That moment I was hit by a different train of thoughts “Were we trying to push it too hard to look for law abiding auto drivers… will we be as idealistic and vocal  when it comes to dealing with higher levels of corruption? Or is it all arbitrary … sometimes we abide … sometimes we adjust… sometimes we profess… sometimes we overlook … but sometimes .. some silly times we perhaps may learn that life is more then rules and ego  and arguments.

When we finally reached the hostel the autowalla almost seemed to have a change of heart. Though that made way for another round of  argument over the fare .. the apologetic autowalla was now insisting on taking Rs 20 as he demanded instead of Rs22 as the meter said (We handed him 22 and walked away ).

Much ado for rupees two … I know purely trivial and purely tamasha!!

Zero-ism

I was curbing the urge to write this one for a longtime . “Well I should write on better issues!” “This is too trivial!” . Yeah! Yeah! Self proclaimed intellectual high status that trashes such things . But the ‘trivial tamasha’ should not be underestimated.These are the things that keep the world moving on the daily basis. A lot of ‘trivial ones’ give you a reason to get out of bed every morning and look forward to the day. So I shun the inhibition and try to explore something that has already  been over-explored.

Well since it’s such a special zone .I skip numero uno and start from zero. Aryabhatta’s zero?Well with due respect and reverence to Sri Aryabhatta, the show has been stolen by someone else. His relation to zero has been overshadowed by a tinsel town ‘activist’.

Let me rewind and start from the start. I was propelled into this frivolous writing by a twenty something lady in a pink jacket and a branded jeans. She was talking to her diet counsellor as I waited at the reception of the gym (yeah I finally decided to lower my BMI).In one hand she was holding  a book with her finger acting as a bookmark.

” ‘It’s not about a bike’ ….Oh! Lance armstrong. I read that one.”   I spoke in my mind as I read the name of the book.

I was beginning to develop a favourable opinion about Miss Pink Jacket .She seemed the most entertaining thing around as I was getting bored of the wait and had already looked at every possible detail of the room. So I observed her as she shared her weight woes with the counsellor. All of a sudden she burst out ‘Kash mai Kareena jaisi dikh sakoon’. This was followed by chuckles and sounds of approval and a  loud ‘gosh!’ .That was the moment I noticed that  Miss Pink jacket wasn’t fat at all! To accentuate  my misery the counsellor added “Hey why don’t you take the women’s day offer?” and she described the discounts on weight loss packages . Alright so this is what Women’s Day is all about :(.

Kareena was perhaps popping up from nowhere for the past few weeks. I watch ‘Koffee with Karan’ on a random sunday. As the host shows clippings of other actors opinion on the guest … she watches with a shocked gaze … and in the end reacts “Oh my god everybody used to be so fat!!”(completely ignoring what they said about her) and I heard further the unspoken words “Before I started the zero revolution”. In the gym I find a glossy book by a weight loss expert with a foreword by Kareena and next day the pink jacket lady gives me a final sign…” Come on acknowledge Kareena…”

 Ok fine!! … Since I have a blog with low traffic I might actaully write something and use this to attract some readers (I know how Shall- O ).So today I  take this opportunity to thank Beb-0 for giving purpose to Indian women. They had always been pressured to look good but you have given them the ‘zero mark’ to strive for.Cheers to you!!  So what! if they may damage their hypothalamo-pituitary-ovarian axis  in the quest.You might have  actually helped them evade ovarian cancers in the future. You are a true pioneer at creating a fat-less society . You have worked towards equalizing the society. Malnourishment is no more confined to the poor , you have brought the elite and the middle class adolescent and adult women in the same category. We will soon have our own breed of anorectics. We are catching up America beware!! I really suspect that the  2010 increase in buffer stock above the target level is your secret contribution. Next time Mr. Bush makes a delirious statement like “Indians eat a lot and that is adding to universal food crisis” we will send you to give an insight into your ‘zero’ revolution’. May be you can help him improve his G.K. too.

    You brought the dignity back to zero. It is a proud moment to attain a zero. In a country with ‘-isms ‘ you added the sacred clan of Zeroism. The ‘Zero warriors’ who look down upon any soul  that looks for M,L,XL,XXL…. sizes in stores. This is a novel way to help doctors fight obesity and metabolic disorder. A look of disdain that motivates the otherwise tough patients to cut on calories.

You have saved us from watching flab on silver screen . You have re-emphasized that size does matter and it’s a great thing to be a small package. Though you  have been born in a family genetically predisposed to obesity; you have shown nothing is impossible by attaining a zero. No wonder the upcoming stars tell stories of shedding 30-40 kgs before shining on the silver screen. Weight has got a weightage like never before.

It’s therefore obvious that every other gal wants to be your ‘zero’-x copy. Don’t take it in the wrong sense but you are ‘the Zeroine’ of the millenium wielding ‘the mask of zero’… blinding people by your unmatchable charm. Hats off to your ‘Zero’ domestic violence drive… probably a zero every woman will appreciate from the bottom of her heart.

           Well you are such a sweet candy hearted woman. Oops thats a lot of calories for words. Pardon me memoiselle. But you are inspiring. I was unaware of your ‘charisma’ until the lady in Pink Jacket rescued me from my ignorance . “Kash mai Kareena jaisi dikh sakoon” was a moment of enlightenment.

The Chosen One (Concluding part of Dear Daughter)

Vidisha gently caressed her  baby bulge of six months as she gasped with joy ….

For the past one week she had watched a Robin bird collect twigs and hop on to the large tree like antic piece that adorned the balcony of her maternal home. She had amusingly witnessed the meticulous effort of  building a nest. Today  she failed to see the Robin for quite sometime .Out of sheer curiosity she peeked in the nest just to admire that twig architecture.But instead was taken aback by  what she saw . There lay cozily three eggs with beautiful brown spots !! As she smiled in amazement she suddenly  felt a funny feeling in her belly. Her hand instinctively moved to her proudly swelling belly and realised… her baby had moved for the first time.

Kanak  had returned on that evening and Vidisha  poured her heart out. Vidisha however was not in a mental state to go into legal proceedings and Kanak also thought the matter though involved a heinous crime had to be dealt delicately and sensibly. She however had to leave the next day.But she left with a promise to help Vidisha out of this and asked her to give her sometime .Till then she wanted Vidisha to conceal the fact that she had conceived again. Vidisha waited anxiously for Kanak to call .But before she could hear from Kanak there was a call from her home. Vidisha’s father had a major heart attack and was hospitalized. She was asked to come immediately home. Dhir could not accompany Vidisha but had immediately arranged for her departure…….

The flight to India was immensely distressing for Vidisha . She tried to fight those scary thoughts as she constantly prayed for her father’s wellbeing. When she saw her father finally she heaved a sigh of relief. Though delighted she  however felt confused to see her father fit as a fiddle. Kanak was sitting beside her father and had given her a mysterious smile. Vidisha after settling down agreed to become a part of that conspiracy.

Two weeks after Vidisha’s departure Dhir got a call from Kanak.

“Dhir I have an important thing to inform you. Vidisha is in the hospital and under observation”

“what happened?”

“Well she is pregnant and she had some bleeding. Do not worry everything is under control . But she cannot travel back to England. She needs bed rest for sometime .I will update you further after we do an ultrasound.”

Dhir couldn’t but agree to that. Though Kanak could sense his unease……..

Dhir was restless waiting for Kanak’s call. He was tense as with Vidisha under Kanak’s supervision he had no way to find the sex of the child. He was continously wondering how he would extract that information from Kanak and find a way out. These thoughts recurred obsessively until Kanak called.

“Dhir the ultrasound was fine. The baby is doing well but Vidisha cannot travel still.”

Dhir’s heart sank….but he hesitantly asked…” Kanak could  you make out if the baby was a girl or a boy..” He almost stammered.

“Well I am not supposed to tell you that but I can give you a hint…this one will carry on your name …”

Dhir had heaved a sigh of relief… “Ahh… a boy…….”

Kanak had hung up before anything else could be said.

 

Vidisha slowly moved away from the nest still holding her belly and a contented heart. Those eggs in the nest became as dear to her as the miracle working in her womb. She felt as if her three daughters had reincarnated to live and be free again  as her fourth child grew in her womb.Every morning the Robin would come and brood on the eggs. Vidisha had by now become a silent protector of the nest and it’s inhabitants. She would occassionally peep to confirm that the eggs were unhurt. To the bird Vidisha however never seemed a threat. This silent and harmonious bonding grew slowly as weeks passed.

The Robin had stopped brooding for two days and frantically flew too and fro. Vidisha wondered what got into the bird. Then she realised she hadn’t peeked in the nest for several days. She felt apprehensive.Vidisha was worried about the eggs as the bird was behaving differently. When the Robin flew away this time she crept stealthily and peeked in the nest. As she got a glimpse she almost jumped back. Three little wide open beaks rose from the hollow of the nest hungrily waiting for her to drop in a goody. She was flooded with joy. The eggs had hatched !!! Those  hungry baby birds kept gesturing for food as their self-proclaimed godmother looked on mesmerised……

Two months later. Vidisha was in pain . Immense pain as her womb contracted intermittently and she laboured . She tried to catch a breath in between when her womb relaxed. Dhir was waiting anxiously outside the labour room for the good news. Kanak was constantly monitoring and encouraging Vidisha through her ordeal. Vidisha had lived under a strange fear duuring the past few months. The pain has made her forget that. All she wanted was the pain to go away.

As every ordeal ends this one ended too. Vidisha almost burst in tears when she held her bundle of joy. But another ordeal had to start now. Kanak looked at her and she nodded in a mutual understanding. It was time to inform Dhir.

Congratualtions Dhir! You can see your wife and daughter now. “

“Daughter!!!” Dhir exclaimed as if he was hit by a boulder.

Vidisha’s heart raced when she overheard Kanak replying calmly to Dhir’s repproach .

I never said it was a son. Who says a daughter can’t carry your name?”

Vidisha closed her eyes and her breathing got heavy. As she closed her eyes an image floated in her troubled mind and her fear started dissolving. She visualised the day the three baby birds had finally learnt to fly and had fearlessly spread their wings.She saw them leave the confines of the balcony and soar to the wide open sky. The baby birds who she believed carried the spirits of her unborn daughters had finally rescued her from guilt and given her courage.

Dhir  entered the room and sat beside her .Vidisha could see the anger and resentment  in his eyes. Before he could repproach her Vidisha started speaking in a firm voice

I know Dhir you feel cheated . But so do I. The past eight months I have thought a lot. Dealt with my sorrow , my anger . What you subjected me to was not only inhuman but also a crime. But by being silent I had participated in the crime. If you disown our daughter, I will disown you. You have a choice whether to accept her with an open heart and watch her grow or else the alimony I will claim would definitely suffice her future needs to the utmost. Really the choice is yours .”

Dhir had glared at Vidisha but it failed to deter her composure.

But before you decide anything I want you to meet our daughter”…. and before Dhir could retaliate Vidisha had handed over the baby girl to him .. “She has your eyes.”

Dhir felt his anger dissipate as he looked into those innocent angelic eyes. He was startled at the beauty of the girl he didn’t even want to see. Vidisha could see his expression change. Dhir felt paralysed with remorse.

You should rest.” He handed over the baby ,after a quiet moment, to Vidisha and walked out without saying another word.

Vidisha heaved a sigh of relief .She had dreaded this moment for so long and now it was over and her daughter was safe in her hands. She wasn’t scared of what Dhir would decide. She didn’t feel crippled or helpless anymore.

Kanak entered the room with a sunny smile on her face as she saw the mother and daughter bond.

So Ishaa what are you going to call your little angel?” she chirped.

Elita.”

“Oh ! Latin… what does it mean ?”

“The Chosen one “