Sunday, August 21, 2011

I am NOT Anna Hazare

I don’t like those caps. But that's not the only reason.

Yesterday, I had been to my local grocer to get some milk. I was standing there for over ten minutes before he decided to provide me any service. Well, why not? After all, his discussion was more important than his work. He was discussing how important it is for Anna to fight, “Boss he is doing the right thing. Marne ki umar me banda lad ra hai. chalo achcha hai... marne ke pahle hamare liye kuchh achcha kar ke jaayega. Ekdum theek kar ra hai banda. Saale in neta logo ke ke saath aisa hi hona chahiye.” This gentleman, after his long patriotic speech, sold a packet of milk to me at Rs. 16 which had an MRP of only Rs. 14. When asked, he told me, “yehi rate pe milta hai sab jagah. Kahi bhi poochh lo.” It is sold at the same rate everywhere. You may go and check.

I could only smirk. I wanted to tell him - your Anna can really not do anything for you; but refrained from it. In my protest, all I did was not to buy milk from his shop. Though, I did it from the other shop in the same rate, without getting into any further discussion.

Sounds like a daily, routine and mundane life scenario? At grocery shops? at rickshaw stands? at shopping malls? Feel cheated of or not provided with the services/products promised? Well, my dear readers, none of them are part of the so-called “MAHA CORRUPT governmental system”. They all belong to us, the helpless and most miserable - Aam Aadmi.

I am not against what Anna Hazare is leading or the support being rendered in his favor. Neither am I complaining about the rallies being held in, or at least being reported from, all across the urban India (Interestingly I would also want to know what is our rural youth doing?). I am only cautioning… against a weak structure of this movement. Any structure is what its building blocks are. And in this structure of the so-called “second freedom struggle”, the blocks- most of the people (but surely not all) on the roads in the support, I think are weak. Not weak as people, but weak as people-on-a-mission. I say that because they are the same people who sell the milk at a higher price than it should have.
But does it mean that we stop our fight till we become strong enough for the fight? Not really. It need not be a sequential process, but can work as a parallel programme. And that’s what Gandhian way of leading a movement was. Gandhi led a movement not only against an issue. Rather, his movements were FOR the people, OF the people and BY the people. I reiterate, his movements were FOR the people, OF the people and BY the people. Which means while he was raising a concern over an issue, he was also ensuring his building blocks of his movement were being trained to be strong enough. And that’s precisely what’s missing in Anna’s movement, and that what my subject of concern is. In fact, it’s sad to note how the cause itself has gone into a back burner and the man and his antics have become the front page news (whether Anna will be able to go on a Fast? For how many days? Will he be sent to jail? Damn! He was sent to Tihar jail!! Whether he will fast in Ramlila ground or at India gate? Oh! Anna was so cute on that reality show with kid!). And in this structure, do we really think we can overcome the issues? Don’t we all see Lokpal itself is a small step towards bringing in a check on corruption in governmental systems? Shifting the focus on our “media-created” leader from the movement is how much favorable to the cause?

Did I hurt anyone when I called Shri Anna Hazare a “media-created” leader? I am sorry. I, not in my most pessimist dream, would question the credentials of this man. He mostly has a good past and has done some really good work. But is he a leader by choice? I am not sure (Please note I don't say I negate completely the possibility of it being the case). In times, when India is producing more managers than leaders (I have discussed how a manager may or may not be a leader but the later has to be a former, in my previous writing), when there is more-than-ever frustration about our systems falling apart all across, when media offers an opportunity for anyone from a Baba Ramdev to Rakhi Sawant to become a solution provider to a clueless janta, Mr. Hazare had no option but to be showcased as a leader, I guess.

Please don’t mistake me as a supporter of government actions. I am equally pissed as things are happening in that part of the system. But then, let’s hold our thoughts for a while and ponder: are those people in anyway not “us”? Are they from some other planet? If there is a failure, is that not “ours”? And if so, will blame-game logic work, without accepting our own role in it all and initiating a correction process? I have always wondered, why have been we asking about solutions from the same set of people, whom we have been cursing for not doing anything? If we already know they are no good, what are we doing to replace them? Or help them with better solutions? Better infrastructure? Isn't my grocer’s selling an overpriced milk a way to support in their mission of corruption? Isn't my not raising a voice and taking a concrete action to ensure he stops doing that addition to corruption? Just because someone pockets lakhs he is a thief and someone pocketing Rs 2 is not? In last few days, my morning news paper has been reporting that how thousands of people are participating in various rallies and candle marches in the city. The same paper had reported about the lower than even 50% turnout of Mumbaikars at last polls. Many had chosen to go on an extended weekend over standing in the queue to vote. What are we doing to improve the procedure of voting that people start participating?

So when someone wears “I am Anna Hazare” cap next, he/she should first think if he/she did anything that would be illegal, and more than that unethical or immoral, in last 24 hrs. If the answer is yes, should delay wearing that cap till he/she gets his/her stand corrected. I, as said before, anyways don’t like that cap. I am NOT Anna Hazare. He is a good man. But I would rather be a Rohit and be good as well.

P.S.: The below Amul ad more or less sums up my concern:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The city of hills and the sea - V

Boarding a BEST bus on a rainy Saturday evening from Borivali to Chembur is not the best of the ideas. And you may curse yourself to death if you did this just outside the railway station, where you had the option of boarding a Mumbai local. But I did board the bus and I did curse myself almost throughout the travel, until was engaged in a love story.
In those moments when I wasn’t cursing myself or reading the newspaper, I engaged myself in my favorite pastime - looking onto and into faces around me. And like it happens most of the times, this time too my maximum onto-into time was spent on a cute little baby girl’s happy face, shifting between her mom and dad, from time to time. She was wearing a bright red frock, a matching set of earrings, and a small ponytail like the Rasna baby (anyone remembers the girl from that ad?). Her dad looked like those big guys with heavy voices we see as sidekicks to the villain in Ram Gopal Varma movies. With his hulk-like hands, he would tickle the baby once in a while and father-daughter duo would burst into loud-sweet laughter. The lady, sitting next to him, was simply smiling when all this was happening. In the times when we get to hear of Indore doctors making big bucks by medically converting the girls into boys and some highly-educated Indians engaging in female foeticide, here was a family, probably from lower middle class, happily loving their girl child. The scene was refreshing and reassuring of goodness.
At times, the kid, while in transit between her parents, would halt in middle of her way and look into my staring eyes. She would wait for a second to study my offered emotion, and when confirmed that I was offering a friendly smile, would burst into laughter and then look at her mother, probably to assure that she is still happy and I have not scared her. Her mother would then throw her routine affirmative smile and hug her, bringing the kid’s face more close to my seat. The kid would then extend her cute little fingers towards me. I would touch them. It was the most therapeutic touch in that maddening traffic. I would tap her fingers as if they were the keys of the piano. I didn’t know her. But I knew her. We were part of a smile exchange programme.
In those moments when I was playing with their daughter and they were assured that I would not harm her, the mom and dad got their time to engage in their small talks. They would say something into each other’s ears and burst into laughter. On one such laughter, the kid got distracted, or probably got bored of playing with me, and started crying. Her mother pulled her from behind and asked, “What happened, beta? Arre nai nai nai…” she opened the window to let some fresh (!) air come in.
“See, there’s another babu. Isn’t he cute?” she pointed to a little kid walking on the footpath with his mother.
The kid looked at the-another-babu for a second, then back to her mom, and back to the-another-babu. Then she stopped crying for a second and then finally smiled. When she was happy and laughing again, she looked at me again and hovered towards me. After being assured that their kid was engaged again, the father leapt back into the moments of romantics, “by the way, the mother of the cute babu, wasn’t any less cute.” His lips widened into a naughty smile. The lady smiled back and tapped on his cheek gently. The man pulled the kid and kissed her with utmost affection. Then he said to her, as if she would understand, to pass it on to mummy. The lady smiled sheepishly and shied away to look outside the window. As the bus tried moving a little further, the moist wind flew her hairs toward the man. He in pretense of holding the kid touched them.
She wasn’t the most beautiful woman, even in the small demographic of the bus neither was he the handsomest man. I am not really sure if theirs was a love marriage or arranged. But how does it all matter? It happens, I think; if we let it. And when it does, it makes everything beautiful all around. Sometimes we close ourselves so tight that it only suffocates us. When kept open, it has the power to let you forget a sucking BEST ride at the least, at other times it may go on to define your whole life. I was in love with this moment of Bollywood-ish happiness offered in a crowded bus. Sometime, the stories around you are so simple and yet powerful that they touch your heart. I think, more than the content of the stories, at times it’s the way they are lived that makes the maximum impact on the watcher.
When I got down, I wasn't as enervated as I had assumed I would. Rather I was engulfed with some wondering thoughts: a few kisses here, and a few hugs there… a few smiles offered and few talks listened to… a few tickles and some giggles… in the BEST buses and the Mumbai locals… in the far and few open spaces available in this city and at the over-crowded seasides… over a rich meal and at times even when one is hungry… on the potholed streets and in the coziness of the closed rooms… on the college campuses and in the office premises… in the shopping malls and on the crowded Mohammad Ali road… despite all the tiredness and madness this city has to offer… Love happens, isn’t it?
P.S.: Their faces are still in my mind while I am done writing this piece and I am still smiling :)
Note: Except first photograph, others in the title image are taken from -,, and

To read the previous articles in this series, please visit below links: