How J.R.R. Tolkien Found Mordor on the Western Front

Touch of Humanity through Fiction writing by one of the greatest writers of all time.

M.C. Tuggle, Writer

Somme

Today is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. The infantry charge was supposed to have been little more than a mopping-up operation. British artillery had pounded its targets for five days, ensuring — at least in the minds of the military staff — that the area would be defenseless. (Robert E. Lee used the same tactic at Gettsyburg, which also began on July 1. Pickett’s Charge, which was also supposed to be a final stroke at a broken enemy, also resulted in horrendous loss of life.) More than 19,000 British soldiers died on the first day. One of the soldiers caught up in that battle was J.R.R. Tolkien:

According to the British historian Martin Gilbert, who interviewed Tolkien decades later about his combat experience, he came under intense enemy fire. He had heard “the fearful cries of men who had been hit,” Gilbert…

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Epiphany of Writing.

When you find long lost objects, there’s this feeling that you know this object deeper than usual. A feeling that you can tingle with the idea of attachment yet be aware of not having any. Sometimes it even leads to question yourself whether this emotion of attachment is just a residue of long forgotten re-enforced feelings. Such is the nature of human behavior that circumstances define a person’s intent yet those who choose actions of valor and righteousness are considered immortal. In the midst of all this mess and chaos, rat race is what stays prominent. A race that is prominent because it’s quintessential to the existence of human civilization. I feel humans have been following, running, leading races from the eternity of structured human civilization. No matter how you avoid these races or stay aloof of it, the truth is you’re knowingly or unknowingly running one. The race against time, for goals or the race against not running a race is what you’ll be a part of. This leads to question oneself what anchors you as an individual? What keeps you sane in this insane world? Is it Love? Is it your goals? Is it money? I say it’s epiphanies.
Every now and then some realizations that keeps you thinking. Thoughts that keep gushing through your neurons to make sense of something atleast anything that it comes across. A thought that lingers somewhere about “what went wrong?” A thought that’s standing at the edge of the tower of Epiphany, all it needs is a small push. Something to make it realize that there’s hope, there’s light. After all what do we live for? A thought that’ll always linger around for a few and for some it’ll be bashed around, poked, made fun of untill it’s too late to realize. Untill it’s too late for an epiphany.
I think I should stop now, after all even I’m racing against a lot of things battery being just one of them. If you think all this is bullshit, then I heard a song that said “The perks of bullshit is epiphany”.

Sikkim: breaking Indian stereotypes..

My country has a beautiful North-east end! Check it out!

"First times"

What is a picture of India inside your head?

well the place where I belong is nowhere closer to your imagination, yet it is an integral part of India,  the irony is, rest of the country hardly know we exist.Yes we have often faced questions like “Sikkim? where is it?”, and “Is it a part of China?” and other discouraging comments from most of the mainland Indian population when we say that we hail from Sikkim. often ignoring their lack of geography and national heritage, we move along, trying not to explain where we belong and what we are.

well this is for all the Indians why is Sikkim famous all over the world, yet is still an enigmatic state of well balanced cultural and modern framework.

Gangtok_night_amit_mitraA view of Gangtok at night

Ten reasons why Sikkim is different than the rest of the country:

1)The people: the…

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Feeling : In the middle of getting back lost love.

This is a short story that I wrote while attending a creative writing workshop, I hope all of you enjoy it.

It was just like any other day until I gave up on the fact that pretending it’s, will not make this pain lesser. Yes, it’s true I know this day too well to pretend. It was this same day last year that she gave up on me. I just can’t stay on this couch and let my brain breed on this pain.

In a few moments I find myself in a restaurant having the same dish that we used to have here. I know I shouldn’t be doing this but I can’t pretend to not care anymore. I see the waiter is smiling mischievously and scribbling something on the bill. Out of intuition I look at the transparent window panes and see a known face. Could it be true? Is that really her? Time stood still and it was the waiter’s voice that shattered the pause. The bill lay in front of me with the words “Happy anniversary sweetheart!” and I asked myself can I love her again ?

Clean India effect on Dadar railway station

SCENARIO: “CHILLING AT A FRIEND’S PAD” & “INDIAN NEWS CHANNELS”

I understand this one comes late but I had important observations to make overtime. Consistency is the key to such campaigns, wanted to test that.

1st Oct 2014 I was staying over at a friend’s place. It was a pretty chilled out night with talks and laughs, the usual. It did strike us in the middle of the night the day after i.e. 2nd October is Gandhi jayanti. The day a great soul was born. A day that almost every Indian who carries a Gandhi in their wallets remember him for something other than money. I woke up at around 9am and went forward to fetch some breakfast for us. After setting up everything on the table and on the commencement of our breakfast, the usual habit of switching on the TV took its course.  I was cruising through the channels and the urge to know what the country is up to took me to various news channels. After going through all the intense information and commotion that is displayed on a news channel I sighed. I wish the channels were very basic in their approach. Like use minimum colours, display needed information, I hope they chuck the concept of continuous repetition of footages of the same news again and again like merry go round. I wonder how Indians cope up with such kind of information broadcasting. I will need two extra cups of coffee to even begin engulfing the information from multiple display windows on the channel by listening to and observing the news reporter at the same time, even describing what is happening to me when I watch the news channels is taking up my energy! I think it’s the Indian way of waking up brainy or waking up with a head ache. Ok here I end my cribbing about news channels, I had to put it out there. They have been torturing me for a while now! Moving away from all the mainstream news channels and media. I happened to reach DD national by almighty’s grace. Still classic like those old actresses you see in the award ceremonies. I think the only thing that changed in DD is colour and other mainstream media channels eating them up. My brother still gets emotional when he hears the standard DD show’s theme songs. Well you know A.R Rahman always does a decent job when it comes to music & nostalgia.

“MODIFICATION” & “CLEAN INDIA”

DD usually shows what is needed without the crap that other news channels feel the dire need to add. So there it was, Prime minister Mr. Narendra Modi Sir and a couple of other important folks seated on a stage in Delhi launching the “My clean India” / “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” campaign. A lot of folks turned out to see the campaign launch. Our prime minister just got back from America after a tedious session of meetings and other important stuff which we might not even understand but it was a pleasure to see him understand the core problem of our nation. Like he said standing beside Mr.Hugh Jackman that sanitation is one of the biggest issues which we want to address in India. So he has a lot of zeal and energy to do well for the nation, now that can be seen I respect that and he definitely knows how to roll! UPA should learn something from that. Oh wait, I think it’s only congress now well whatever suits you. Now folks please don’t get me wrong here. If you have been able to read so far, you need to know one thing I am not a Modi fan or a fanatic who is going to always believe whatever a single person says all the time but I’m just considering logic and facts here.

“PERSONAL NON LITTERING AGENDA”

The cause of cleanliness and recycling has always been very important to me. I call myself eco-friendly and I believe that I live up to that term to a great extent. I work for a organization for youth called “Ayudh”(https://www.facebook.com/pages/AYUDH-India/493884534003106?ref=hl ) where we support such causes and apart from that have also participated in campaigns like “Amala bharatam” (Dirt-free India http://e.amritapuri.org/abc/) associated with the same organization. I love the idea of ground up level operations when it comes to cleanliness and recycling because my experiences has taught me that we can work on the minute details and make major gains when it comes to protecting fellow humans and environment from the ground itself unlike talking randomness and projections in a board room. Small things like segregating waste and recycling the recyclable objects can go a long way. I have done the task of recycling several times and on one such instance I was able to recycle 360 kg of waste.

“CAMPAIGN EFFECT & IMPLEMENTATION “

Coming back to my friend’s pad, where I was ready to leave for home. The thought of travelling is so boring to me. It’s a tiresome and long journey from Vashi to Malad. A lot of things can be seen on the way. I almost travel half of the island of Mumbai to reach my destination in the course of which I come across various types of people. Usually the types that any person travelling in public transport comes across. Public platforms are untidy, dirty and people love to mark their territories by spitting (Pun intended, Thank god we’re not like dogs and their pissing). I don’t spit, neither do I throw wrappers on the platform or any public place but the majority of the Indian crowd would agree to disagree with this statement. While commencing my journey from Vashi,

  • I was thinking can a campaign like this really change the Indian mentality?
  • Is it just another political mileage gaining opportunity for a party in power?
  • Will I be seeing more dustbins for God’s sake!!! (33 crore gods + the ones you would like to add, if you know what I’m saying!)
  • Will the men with red spittle dripping from their lips stop marking their territories? ( Sorry for the Gory image, you know that truth bitter thing they say)
  • Will Indians with corporate jobs who watch movies and listen to songs on Ipads stop throwing wrappers on platforms and in the train bogeys?

The questions were there in the back of my head but this new book I was reading was quite engaging, so the journey bought me to Kurla. This station is one of the major stations of Mumbai so moving along the crowd is an involuntary action. You just get carried away (Literally). I did notice these brand new green bins at a few poles but you know Kurla doesn’t really give you time to ponder much.

That brand new green dustbin!

That brand new green dustbin!

Posters on the foot over bridge. In a way stops people from spitting on the side rails.

Posters on the foot over bridge at Dadar station. In a way stops people from spitting on the side rails. Date : 2nd Oct 14.

“THE VISION”

Then my journey bought me to Dadar, another busy station with a huge foot over connecting bridge. One of the major connecting points of the city. This is where I let my curious nature take over me. Well, I didn’t need to be much curious about things because the answer to my questions were pretty evident by now. At 21:30 the busy hustling station of Dadar was clean! Now please note its 21:30. The station has an average footfall of 2.90 lakh passengers in a day. Yet someone has somewhere managed to keep the station clean all day + the night. It was unbelievable! The fact that in one day so much has happened in a place like Mumbai? Now I’m all game for criticizing the government for its short comings but hey when they do manage to pull such things I got to write about it. I rejoice for I’m an Indian and if you’re one you should too. I have pictures of the station here. My astonishment was further fuelled when I reached platform number 1, the western line platform which is heavily crowded because as you travel further north there are stations like Bandra, Andheri and VIrar. Platform number 1 had a surprise for all the commuters. Just as you board the platform from the foot over bridge you see a brand new spanky plastic green dustbin with a white dust bin cover in it. Now that my friends is what I would call a trickledown effect. Very rarely seen in a place like India.  The most powerful man in the nation suggests a campaign to clean India and what should a commuter travelling in the local trains in Mumbai see to believe that it’s going to make his life better? A set of bloody brand new dustbins and a clean platform! That’s exactly what I saw folks! People were actually listening to Mr.Prime minister can you believe that? It has been a while since that has happened, if you know what I’m saying! I even say a smiling cleaning lady walking on the Dadar platform at 21:40 ! Now who sees a smiling “Cleaning” lady wearing a blue uniform at such a time on the local train platforms of Mumbai? I had to capture this moment! Don’t you get the significance of such a moment, it was never going to happen trust me on this one. First of all they usually don’t smile especially when they have their uniforms on! Second they are never seen in the night. How do I know all this? Duh? I travel!!!

2nd Oct '14 (Platform no: 1) at 21:30. It's clean can you believe that?

2nd Oct ’14 (Platform no: 1) at 21:30. It’s clean can you believe that?

“OATH”

Oathfor cleanliness (Hindi : Shapath)

Oathfor cleanliness (Hindi : Shapath)

Then I came across a big white board where the government urged me to sign and take an oath to not litter. Game on! Took out my marker wrote “I’m a proud Indian today” and signed. The oath to not litter and ruin your public places is a good one to take, I hope you have taken that one too. I went and spoke to the young police officers sitting at the police desk told them thank you for their service. Told the same to the cleaning lady. Well, you got to tell them how you feel. People feed on motivation and compliments, haven’t you got that already. So the next time you see a government employee doing his job perfectly, you better let him know that you appreciate it.

It’s a good feeling when you know that a powerful and stable government can say something and get stuff done, I thought that it’s a one day thing but like I said I travel so I found the same situation a few weeks later.

“MY ADVICE TO READERS”

Haven’t we Indians seen the launch of several such campaigns? “Bol Bacchangiri” of politicians in every nook and corner of the country. Considering this is a new government and stopping myself from having a pre notion of the results of their campaigns, I feel rather than ostracizing and creating negative energy around their every campaign, we should give back to the community and learn from them in our small little ways. When your government calls you answer it, no matter which government it’s what matters is that it’s your nation and it’s about time we start acting like a citizen. When a small individual picks up a broom and decides to clean his neighbourhood rather than criticizing him, join him. Don’t throw that wrapper around when you don’t find a bin. You like eating mentos, happydent and these small amazing candies ? Please don’t throw the wrapper in public places. Keep it in your bag. Be the change.  In Mr. Prime minister Narendra Modi’s words, “May the force be with you!“

I took the oath! Did you?

I took the oath! Did you?

11th Nov '14 Same platform no.1. Still clean at 21:30!

11th Nov ’14 Same platform no.1. Still clean at 21:30!

Sharing my Girl friend’s tasty Parathas.

I live a bachelor life on the out skirts of Mumbai, at least most times of a week. I have a caring girl friend who cooks tasty snacks for me “at times”. Usually the food is so tasty, that I take a while to come out of the zone to compliment her. She is very humble though and thinks my compliments are for name sake. Well, all I can say is I try and women have a tendency to look the other way. I love the way she shyly opens her bag to give me her home-made snack. She says she has made it in a hurry but I always know she might have toiled a couple of hours to prepare this tasty treat. She also tries to point out the defects that I might encounter in the food, typical behavior that I have been observing since the past 4 years. In a relationship there are times where you fight like cats and dogs and then there are those times where you don’t need to open your mouth to say a word but the three things that ring in your head is “I love you”. I don’t care how the last sentence sounded but I truly feel this emotion every time she opens her bag to give me the package which contains the food.  She usually packs it so well that even ants might take a while to decipher ways to get it. She is definitely employable in the package industry; she is truly a food packaging artist! Apart from all the precision displayed in her packaging, I find the whole packaging rather cute. Looking at the parcel makes me feel cared, I haven’t figured why but it does.

 

It was one such package that I recieved two days back on my journey back home from Vashi to Panvel. The moment I met her I knew she has been working on something tasty. She forgot to put her standard eye liner, that gave away the fact that she was too busy and didn’t have the time to put it. The deal was sealed when I noticed her shy smile. So, in the middle of a conversation out of nowhere without any connection she says, “I have made Soya bean parathas for you!” It was as if she was toying with the right words before saying it. I smiled and said that is great! I need to taste one right now. After a little forcing, the beautiful procedure of she opening her bag and giving me the cute package took place. I tore the aluminum foil (she always has it in her packaging) and tasted the paratha, ummm silence for a moment..Ok for a minute maybe and I said wow!, this is the tastiest paratha I had ever had. Truly I meant it. It was as if I was in a dhaba in Punjab and having a paratha with a dash of Shilpa’s recipe (My girl friend in it). We met a friend Shruthi (who hates Soya bean) and she couldn’t even figure there was any in it. She munched and loved it.

 

All set, I happily boarded the local train which would get me to Panvel. Unlike any other day I was carrying something special that day, I was carrying Parathas, Shilpa’s Soya bean paratha! Patience is not one of my virtues, half way through I open the cute package and munched a whole paratha. Ummm relief, that will hold me for a while. I really wouldn’t share this one. I felt like Sméagol/Gollum from Lord of the Rings and the package was my precious. Holding onto it I reached Khandeshwar (a station before Panvel). While reading a Novel, someone touched me on my hand. It was a very weak nudge. I looked up to see a child. He was around 7-9 years old. He was wearing ragged clothes and had muddy hair. I wondered what he was doing so late! It was 11pm in the night. His eyes were weak, it radiated sadness. His legs and arms looked brittle. Being a Mumbaikar, seing beggars is not an uncommon thing but there was something about this kid that made me feel bad. Government, politics, WHO all kept aside there was only one thing this child needed and I knew it was food.I think he noticed the package in my hand and came straight towards me. After a few seconds of moving his cupped hands vertically with a sad smile, he pointed at my package and then pointed towards his mouth. A gesture that I feel any person on this planet will understand at least every Indian will understand. Seconds felt like minutes, every second that the child looked at me with those sad eyes I felt sad. I felt the world is a cruel place it makes a child beg for food but what he wanted was my precious. I know what you might be thinking that I removed the parathas and gave it to him. I feel the blog’s name gives it away! Yet I feel sad to differ. I said no, it was a stern no. I can’t give these Parathas to the child. It was meant for me, Shilpa always says, “please have the food for yourself I made it for you, share it with your friends if you really need to but I would want you to have it alone.” Can’t blame the girl, I feel it’s a basic instinct for a women to protect and feed her loved ones. It does make them sound selfish but keeps the world alive and nourished. Now that I think of it I know for a fact that she wouldn’t mind me giving the child parathas, I know her kind heart just too well. She would be the one to give it to the child. I saw the child going ahead and loosing hope on the food. “Loosing hope” I have been through that feeling many a times especially in my current Engineering education. It is a painful feeling; I called the child towards me told him to sit down beside me.

No point in asking names where does he live? It doesn’t matter what matters is that the child needs food. I opened the cute looking package, gave a paratha to him and took one for myself. We ate together. I have to admit that I was looking at him every time he took a morsel feeling relieved that he is eating. I just couldn’t take my eyes off him. The poor fellow had to beg to eat! The train was moving and he just sat next to me, he had eaten after a long time, I could sense it. Slowly his eyes started to close and he slept like a baby.While he was sleeping I was pondering, who is to blame? The government ? The beauracracy? The politicians? Or Us? We are all mesmerized and living in a matrerialistic world that makes us believe that all that matters is all that shines! There is no value for life. There is value for big cars, expensive dinners, and expensive clothes. No one cares whether the child sleeping next to me has had his meals! All that matters is profit. It’s us, who should start the change. We have to understand that the only way out of this misery is to care for others. We have to love all humans alike, no religion, no sect, no bifurcations. Just give love and care for others. Think about what is wrong and try and change it. Don’t ever give up! I have had discussions with people over such issues and in the end they say, “This is too serious a talk.” Let’s talk about something else. I have understood in my life that all that actually matters is your serious talk. Everything that you talk other than that is just unproductive shitty talks which will be forgotten. What will leave a mark on your life is your serious discussions. Maybe it might even go ahead and change you as a person. So, a way to a Man’s heart is through his stomach and sharing your food with someone who needs it is a priority. Ask questions, talk good talks.

 

Reminds me of a Poem I read:

 

QUESTIONS ARE THE ANSWERS

 

When happiness breathes in every cell,

Heart beats stronger with every step-

Love flows, more forcefully than a watery cliff

Then, whats the need for anything else?

 

While we live in the present tense,

A block ahead from the entrance/exit gate,

A road ahead with unseen nails-

Then, why is the forehead cringing?

 

The faith is intact like a bricked wall

The goal is clear and sky high-

Focus and determination unshakable,

Then, where does fear have any place?

 

If the blind can see dreams,

The deaf can hear his heart beating;

The dumb can speak his mind out:
Then, isn’t it illusive to believe it’s impossible?

 

-Poet’s Choice (Book:ISBN 935137101-8)

Published by : Akshay Sonthalia.

Lack of “Water”,harming Humans : Coca- Cola sipping dry Rajasthani ground “Water”

I love the taste of Coca-Cola, I agree the taste of Thumbs Up is even better until i realized i have “farmer blood on my hands”, yes you read that one right. Now, you might think that is a little too much to say huh? Sorry to put it this way but the truth is always going to be bitter and it is better to gulp it down and accept it rather than linger on the disgust of the taste it has.

Poor people fetching water from a communal well

Poor people fetching water from a communal well

A while back I watched this documentary below, I was alone at my bachelor pad and was gauging through the internet about “Water”. That is when I came across all this information about  how coca-cola one of the Huge MNC shark has a plant in Kaladera Rajasthan which uses the ground water in the already deserted area in such a way that our fellow Rajasthani farmers are not able to cultivate food or support their families. The video and the information spurred something in me, it made me understand that all brands wear a mask. It’s truly disheartening. The situation of people from fellow nations on the planet is worse. Few have even privatized water. That means people have to pay money to private companies to obtain water which they can’t afford ( another story in Bolivia).

Graph illustration

Graph illustration

Opinion: 

At least in India, there are folks like Justice Sachar who say stuff like “There is nothing above the Constitution. The Preamble says India is a secular, socialist, Republic…and handing over ownership of water to private companies is cheating the Constitution.” Thank you, a young Indian like me couldn’t thank you more. The last thing i want to see is Indians being ripped open and fed on by Corporate wolves!

  “We roam around order a coke with food, have coke with hard drinks. Drink Maaza in summers. Watch actors endorsing these brands, them going as far to even including them in their movies”. After all what matters to India is Money, Star power to endorse it, fame and all the goodies that comes along with it. Do Indians care about Life? Do Indians care that every time you buy or drink coke there is an amount of water that is being depleted from the ground reserves of Rajasthan. There is a child in Rajasthan being deprived because some child in an urban city needs his cold drink! Some youth demands a thumbs up with his cigarette. We all have become mindless addicts to brands who lobby themselves well. Brands which target our youth and drag us to believe what they want us to believe! The problem is we don’t understand that we always have a choice, a choice to say no. A choice to rise above this mindless addiction and think about our fellow human beings. A choice that touches the humanity within us. To live a life which includes sustainability as a way of living. The idea is not only to switch to better brands, the idea is to switch to the “right brands”. Behind all the taste, glam and glitter of whatever brand you use there are people. If these people are affected and their families are starved, nothing can be above their well being and definitely your taste for the brand is the least of it. So every time the Alia Bhatt ad says,” Khushiyan baato, coke share karo!” “meaning” share a coke and spread happiness, you think of this post. A brand that doesn’t care about the people in scarcity of water and created the circumstance in the same place aims to make someone happy sharing it? Sharing a coke is almost killing my fellow human not making anyone happy rather even leading to issues with frequent soft drink consumers. Truly, it’s a double edged sword.  Humanity is not a virtue, it’s a sleeping beast in the midst of hard choices.  Wake it up and take control of your life.

 

My Question to you is simple, what will you do when you ask for a cold drink at a store or your college canteen and they put any one of COCA-COLADIET COKETHUMS UP (Brought by Coca cola for $60 million from Parle more,here), SPRITEFANTALIMCAMAAZAPULPY ORANGENIMBU FRESHMINUTE MAID GUAVAMINUTE MAID APPLEMINUTE MAID MANGOMINUTE MAID MIXED JUICEMINUTE MAID 100% JUICE GRAPEMINUTE MAID 100% JUICE APPLEMINUTE MAID 100% JUICE ORANGEBURNKINLEY WATER (Bottled water), KINLEY SODASCHWEPPES ( Tonic water), GEORGIA GOLD ( Coffe & Tea). I don’t know about you all but every time it happens to me I ask for a Pepsi or rather refrain from drinking soft drinks. Don’t want to be part of this heartless enjoyment, at least i can have a touch of humanity in my heart. “Don’t share a coke because it is not spreading happiness” and “Haan haan, tum crazy ho agar tum ye product share karte ho tho!” Yes you are crazy if you share these products ( In reference to the ad campaign of Coca-Cola) If you want to read more, there are links below. Take action, that is what is going to define you! Responsibility is on our own “Indian” shoulders not on anyone else!

 

A mobile app that can help you :

Name : Buycott – barcode scanner vote

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.buycott.android

  Continue reading

The man who rolls for a living

I was about 6-7 years old when I saw this man in the picture for the first time. He looked younger than what he seems to look in the picture. You might not be able to guess anything about his age, neither do I but one thing is for certain he has aged with time. I can say this with certainty because I see him once every year when I visit Kerala. The state from where my parents hail from, where my ancestors resided. So, seeing a person once a year for 17 years does get you acquainted with his/her age in a certain untold way. Haripadhero   This individual rolls for a living, yes you read it right. He rolls on the ground in the name of God and expects you to pay him some token. It is not forced, it is fine even if you don’t give him anything but it is a norm that people whoever visit this temple know about and they pay him duly. Even if you pay him some money without knowing the fact that he rolls in return, he feels obligated to do so. Integrity is a virtue mostly shared by people who usually get the shorter end of the straw. I vaguely remember when I saw him for the first time, his disfigured face and body scared me but I was only a child. Though I enjoyed seeing him roll that is what my mother says. Every year as I went to visit the temple I would notice him standing on the door just like shown in this picture. Sometimes a little inside the temple but ever ready to roll. You can always find sand particles stuck to his body due to the rolling he does. His body has hardened in many areas. The way you see him in this picture, that is the exact attire in which he does this tedious task of rolling and this is the same attire that I have seen him in all these years. The rolling he performs is quick but the process to lay himself on the ground and pick himself up from the ground is a difficult task for him because of his physically challenged nature.  There were times when I would run away from him because I felt it was pointless to pay this man money for rolling! I despised him because I thought he was extorting money. Prejudice is a sin that even the strongest of men sometimes commit, but I was just a boy.  As years went by my ability to analyze circumstances around me changed (a good way of saying I started becoming mature from being a rogue).  I understood that this person does what he does because he might not be getting employed by anyone.  For that matter there might be heinous people who might have even shooed him away for the way he looks or for his physically challenged nature. What does an individual like him do? How will he earn a living? How will he survive? These questions started to arise in my mind.  I understood the answer to such questions in a country like India is quite difficult to answer. It’s a country with population over a billion but such heavy numbers does lead to unaccountability for human life. India’s mysticism can be decoded by concluding that India is embossed with various cultures, casts; people and the one thing that is embedded in its crown forever are the multiple religions that adorn her headpiece.  He is a person living on one such religion. My conclusions after interacting with this unique human in a prolonged span of years is very simple, if religion helps people to take care of themselves and to sustain then I don’t mind giving people associated with it money. I have understood with time that it’s a way of earning bread and surviving for many. That doesn’t mean the untaxed money generated through religion is good, it is used in an ill fashion just like how other people or organizations on this planet use their money unproductively. Then there are people like him shown in the picture who live in the name of religion because that’s their livelihood. Respect them like you would respect anyone else on this planet that you feel equal to. My parents don’t judge, when I asked them to click a picture of me and him together they didn’t even flinch once. I know people whose parents might feel a little out of place if their children touched such an individual but not mine. I stress over this because I want people to look at others as their equal no matter whom they are. There, now I have one of the most cherished pictures of my life. It’s not a stupid selfie, or a drunken picture in a club. It’s a picture with a human who proudly rolls for a living.

What he taught me :

This individual might seem like begging, but then there is this question why roll? The answer is simple he is returning a service for your money. The service constitutes of eradicating your sins by him rolling for it. It doesn’t matter whether you feel the service is pointless or not, what matters is he puts his 100% to perform it even though it’s abstract. This man is challenged in many ways but he is too proud to lose his pride and integrity by being remembered as a beggar. I would call that a sign of a man, he is a bigger man then a lot of men I know. Having a hot body, a hot girlfriend or whatever in your list constitutes a man doesn’t make someone man enough. Having a huge heart to put up a smile even when you’re going through hell every day, not ready to lose your pride and fighting each day to survive even though you know it’s more easy to give up is what makes you a man.

I asked him, will you take a picture with me? He nodded shyly and there a beautiful picture.

I asked him, will you take a picture with me? He nodded shyly and there a beautiful picture.

Now you might be thinking what is his name? Let me tell you this, he represents all the proud humans you will ever come across and they can never be summed up in a name. So next time when you meet someone giving it their everything, go greet him/her talk a little and maybe just maybe you will be able to put a beautiful smile on his face. Just like the person in this picture is smiling. Rise above prejudice.

PS: He can be seen at the doors of Sree Subrahmanya Swamy temple situated at Haripad, Kerela in India. Location: Click here

Spreading smiles by cutting miles : Mumbai metro

Humans have always had a tendency to reach for more, some call it greed, some call it progress. I call it Human nature. That is just the way we are built, deep within us there is always going to remain this urge to answer the constant question, “What’s next ?” One such question was answered lately on 8th June 2014. This was the day when the chaos ridden mumbaikars were gifted “Metro railway”.

Metro logo

Metro logo

Mumbaikars have always had the privilege to experience new things from time to time. Whether it be the onset of Bollywood cinema a many decades back or the infamous riots and bombings that we all know about. In the midst of all these issues and the fast moving lifestyle of mumbaikars there came Metro railways. The nation knew it was around the corner but then considering the past delays we have faced in every gift that we have awaited as a nation there was a kind of opinionated view on the issue. I was talking to a rickshaw driver a few months back he said, ” are wo(metro railways) kab chalu hoga kya malum ? Government tho apna bekaar hai!” he basically meant the government is useless. An IT employee who travels everyday across the stretch of Mumbai sounded more eager though, “I hope the service starts soon, it will reduce my travel time but then the government has a lack of delaying things!“. I sometimes feel pity for the government, even bollywood actors and actresses face less criticism.

I’m sure on the 8th of last month both the rickshaw driver and the IT employee would have woken up with a smile. A smile that would be resonated among the 11 something million population of this great urban metropolitan. Now we all know the power of a smile, it has this contagious effect sometimes even luring the most static faces around to reciprocate with a smile. Now imagine when an estimated 1.5 million daily riders of the metro start smiling, the whole city ends up smiling. That’s what happened to me yesterday, something struck me out of nowhere, it was definitely the pandemic of a smile.

Personal Smile log.

I was walking/jogging through the andheri railway bridge which connects the local arilway to the metro railway, of course i was in a hurry just like all my fellow mumbaikars. The first smile that hit me was from a military uniform clad gentleman who was part of the security detail of the station. It was in reply to my question, “andar kaise jau?” how do i get in? He showed me the way and allowed me to cut the queue, with a wide smile! Traveller’s luck i suppose. In my defence there was not much of a queue. I had a smart card on me so things got easy when it came to access. You got to go through one of these.

metroentryThen i entered the metro railway under the guidance of a Metro employee which against the normal local train norms insisted the passengers to keep patience while entering and exiting the door. At least someone thought it was about time that mumbaikars are taught how to do that!

The door opened, there boom out of nowhere there was  another smile staring at me. It was a pretty content smile and my smile meter was again recharged.

 

The AC was strong and it was a relief to enter the cabin. Other then the cool air there was something more about the environment in that cabin, it was the happiness of the people. I realized my smile meter is going to overflow, i had to give it away to other people. That’s exactly what i did, gave it away like a generous business man giving away money. Now like the urban legend goes, the more you give, the more you receive. Well, i have to admit it was a circle i didn’t want to escape.

Travelling as Indians together, smiling! 

People around me were happy, they were clicking pictures. Talking, laughing enjoying every minute of the ride. They should be shouldn’t they? They were cherishing their new gift! All of us were getting a unique view of the city with a unique smiling crowd which consisted of people from various casts, creed, color, locality, religion but we were not diverse in any way. We were and are one, we are Indians travelling together smiling at each other with happiness at our new found love, Mumbai metro which lets you cut your travelling time from around 2 hours to a mere 20 mins. I have seen Mumbai unite in times of adversity but this unity in happiness was something that i cherished. I consider myself a very social person and usually do find a way to crack up a conversation while travelling but not yesterday, yesterday was the day i spoke to all my fellow mumbaikars by just smiling at them. It was a form of communication where you don’t say anything but convey a lot by just your smiles and by accepting others smiles. I didn’t need to talk. You should try it! It is quite astonishing.

cropped-m_id_472682_mumbai_metro3.jpg

I felt the same vibe while i was travelling back from ghatkopar to andheri.  Metro is like a new bollywood actress, spreading smiles and people just can’t stop talking about her. At least for a while she will be center of attention and all the gossip!

Metro art

Metro art

The Metro corridors are induced with amazing murals which really goes with the fast moving lifestyle of the city! Depicts a lot of emotion around the daily travel needs of mumbaikars.

 

An incident to remember ! 

One of the most beautiful incidents that i saw was at Asalpa station where a women mostly in her late 40’s was guiding her mother-in-law and father-in-law onto the metro. She was also handling her two children simultaneously. Mumbai women are like demi-gods! She helped them get a seat. The awe in the eyes of the veteran mumbaikars to see the train moving was phenomenal. The mother-in-law would have been in her late 60’s but i could see her curiosity. She showed the curiousness and zeal of a child as soon as the train started to move. She caught hold of a man in his early 20’s and told him to move aside, he was blocking her view! She watched mumbai from the window like mumbai had watched over her all these years. She smiled in content and her husband too smiled in return. It was as if they had awaited this moment for a very long time. It was a moment worth capturing, and her demi-god like daughter-in-law did it in style. I was just happy to be there doing my smiling thing.

Metro, she might have a few flaws but i knew one thing when i entered through that door. She is going to spread a lot of smiles!