Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bus Musings

The dynamics of passengers aboard the private buses in Delhi is amazing. Living in Delhi for all the 23 years of my life, the private buses have become an integral part of my life. My role is generally of the attentive girl, who appears (or thinks she appears) to be engrossed in listening to the radio on her cell or reading the fat book with absurd names by prominent authors. The other characters playing pivotal roles are:

  • The Mr. Know-it-all uncle: keeps caressing his moustaches between his knowledgeable observations on the Indian politics, the bad performance of the Indian cricket team, the conditions of the roads, the corruption that plagues the traffic police officers and also the treatment for cancer.

  • The driver: views the clear roads of the New Delhi area as tracts of formula one, other buses on the route as fellow racers, passengers on board as skilled gymnasts who can balance perfectly leaving behind the perfect 10 scores of Nadia and enjoys the banter which increases in volume in a desperate attempt to over shadow the volume of the tape recorder playing copies of oldies by Mukesh sung by the understudies of Altaf Raja.

  • The Young Turk: the representative of the rebellion who finds it essential to protest and negate everything and anything said by the Know-it-all uncle. His logics are more often than not without any base. The sole purpose of opposing is to oppose. Sometimes the quips are funny for sure.

  • The aunty who forgets that the days when she was a petite little maiden are bygone. Her bag and bums cover an area where two people can sit for an hour long journey experiencing the luxuries of deluxe bus service. Her constant fidgeting is the icing on the cake of tribulations one has to endure in the buses.

  • The charming Romeo: who has a smile that can make the bus Juliet go weak in her knees. He stands only for his Juliet others in the bus are of no importance to him. He seems restless on the days when the Juliet decides to board some other bus or worse decides to take an off.

  • The demure Juliet: is dressed perfectly. Her jeans pant is bought from the Sarojini market only last Saturday. The hair is streaked with the bleach that was left over after application on the face. The purse dangles in a fashion that tells the Romeo and all the other potential Romeos to vacate a seat for the lady before she trips off her high heals again bought from the SN market with all the dazzlers in place.

  • The conductor: is the sole artist who forms the link with all the characters of the bus. He notices everybody. After the officiating the process of ticketing he enjoys the pleasure of interacting with everyone. He skillfully instigates the know-it –all uncleji, according to his mood supports or opposes the Young Turk. While skillfully moving through the passage of the bus amidst the crowd of passengers he smiles a conspiring smile at the Romeo and a smile that tells the Juliet that her secret is safe with him.

This is why I so enjoy the daily trip in the bus. The characters are same. Their traits are same. The faces change. Sometime even the storyline takes a different subject but the characters remain constant.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Games, The Lessons

Who was your foe?
You were curious, now you know
Who was your friend?
It all became clear in the end.

The words of care
Were never really there
Later on you realized that
It was a chase of mouse and cat.

A fool don’t call yourself dear
Now there’s nothing you got to fear
Sure, don’t sing ballads of praises
But next time don’t chase the similar mazes

Life will not promise to be better or good
No one will tell what will not work and what would
It’s just a mean guessing game
Just never trust anyone with the same name…

Friday, February 02, 2007

Middle Class Myth

Seeing media reports on Jessica Lal murder case the celebration that the media houses are having and deservedly so are palpable to one and all sitting in the comforts of their houses during the cold winter evenings in the capital city. A huge percentage of citizens watching the verdict against Manu Sharma, I am sure, feel a sense of fulfillment and achievement at finally winning justice for the cause for which they had held night vigils forsaking the comforts of their own houses. The act is well appreciated.

But has the so-called power of the middle class, much glorified by the news channels across the spread of the remote control, lost its furore so quickly? Or is the sentiment and support of the middle class that has ‘come of age’ (according to news reports) reserved only for the people facing injustices who belong to the upper middle class?

I ask these questions because I have received no invites, no mails, no SMSs and no forwarded mails to come forward and show solidarity to the grief stricken parents of the victims of Nithari. The channels and reporters who had decided to make sure that the cause for justice for Jessica be the main agenda for months seem to be questioning the motives of majority of the parents who are coming forth in a last attempt to identify the bodies of the children they have lost. The relatives of Nithari victims are poor people, mostly uneducated and definitely not a part of the socio-economic group that Nithari main accuse Moninder used to entertain through the privilege of child molestation. So has the India that had found a new voice after the success of Rang de Basanti and Lage Raho Munna Bhai lost the fire in its belly so early on to fight against injustice. The day Nithari case was exposed, I had told my mother that I would participate in all the marches that were sure to be carried out to show support and solidarity to the Nithari victims and their families. When the middle class of Delhi could hold marches and night-vigils demanding justice for a single person I could hardly imagine the extent to which they would go to demand justice for more than a dozen innocent children.

Sadly enough the middleclass disappointed me, but not as much as the media houses. NDTV did not ask me to sign petitions demanding middle of the road lynching for Moninder and Suninder. CNN IBN did not promise to raise funds, by lighting virtual candles, for the victims’ families. AAJTAK made a mockery of the police and their inquiries by giving prime time attention to a lady who proclaimed to be the mistress of Moninder. Times of India too did not want me to go to their website to register my vote. Youth for Equality did not take up the cause and Amir Khan did not come visiting the capital. None of the political parties were brave enough to announce handsome compensations for the bereaved families (the least they could have done). Nothing. Nothing for those who were at the prime of their childhood, who had not known what life was all about and who might have grown up to be someone India could have been proud of. Not a candle not a SMS and not even a tear. Where is the new risen middle class that raises its voice? Is it a reality or a myth? For answers I am waiting…