Friday, November 23, 2012

An "Outsider's" Tirade

I am an Indian, living in Mumbai, who hails from Rajasthan. And honestly, I'm tired of certain Shiv Sainik Maharashtrians calling and treating me as an "outsider" in Mumbai.
Just because Bal Thackeray stamped his authority over this city during a period of turmoil in the 1960s and '70s does not mean his supporters can discriminate against non-Maharashtrians in today's day and age. Just because it is "Maharashtra" does not give a non-Maharashtrian any less entitlement over this land.
Maharashtrians and people from all over the country have made Mumbai the city it is. I do not like to discriminate, compare or judge on the basis of religion or caste, but since they attack me with that yardstick, allow me to reply with one of your own kind. If not for the entrepreneurial skill of the Sindhis, Punjabis, Gujaratis and the like, I'm sorry to say, but Mumbai may have been another Solapur.

I know loads of Maharashtrians who were born and brought up in Mumbai, have done their engineering, gone to the USA for their masters and have settled down there since, minting the greenback. Well, that is their choice and a perfectly fine one at that.
But when these same people point a finger at me and call me an "outsider", I have a problem. I am living here. In Mumbai. In "your" land. I am a professional, contributing to Mumbai's economy and growth. On what basis do you call me an "outsider"? If anyone, you are an outsider. Brain drain much?

I have been roughed up by Shiv Sainiks on more than one occasion. I was repeatedly denied the opportunity to play cricket for my local club and for Mumbai 
by officials and coaches who were Maharashtrian Shiv Sainiks. Why? "Because you are not a Marathi." I was told that to my face, thrice. When I was thirteen, fourteen and fifteen-years old. In spite of being better than most others at the selection trials. I am not exaggerating and pardon me for my immodesty, but I could've very well been playing for the Indian cricket team today.
So yes, I have a problem with the Shiv Sena, its ideologies and the extreme way it conducts its affairs. For wont of a willingness and ability to carry out an intelligent dialogue, they resort to violence and intimidation.

What has the Shiv Sena done to promote the wonderful Marathi art, culture and language? Nothing or thereabouts. And I shall voice my opinion because, freedom of speech.

So those who call me an "outsider" in the city of Mumbai, leave "your" land and go settle down in a foreign land, which some of you have already done. If you or your kids ever face discrimination by stooges of a local don because of your caste, race or nationality, do tell me how you feel.

I was born in Bombay. I grew up in Mumbai. I embraced everything this city has to offer; the people, climate, food, culture; and am giving back something to the city. So learn the meaning of secularism before you go and poop next time. It'll come out much smoother.

Monday, November 19, 2012

As You Are Reading This...

As you are reading this, a few things are happening in the world around us, all at once:

1. Babies are being born, people are dying and many others are ill or about to fall ill.

2. Couples are parting ways and scores of others are falling in love. The number of such people is not necessarily even.

3. Mothers are feeding their children, while themselves going to bed hungry.  Children are leaving their parents in old-age homes because they don’t have time to look after them.

4. Countless trees are being cut down for the newspaper that you will read in the coming week or the week after that. 

5. Some students are studying for their exams, some others are celebrating the end of their exams.  Some kids are browsing through bookstores, while many others are glued to the latest version of their favorite video game on their consoles.

6. Plots are being hatched by a bunch of humans to kill another bunch of humans because they are detrimental to their interest. Endangered species are inching closer to extinction.

7. Gazillions of liters of petrol and diesel are being filled into cars.

8. Artists are creating art, musicians are creating new music and rehashing old tunes, writers are working on their next bestseller, movies are being made and theatre is being enacted.

9. All sorts of products, articles and things are being manufactured or built; right from toothbrushes to ginormous buildings.

10. Waterfalls are gushing down hills in all their splendor.

11. The Titanic and many other ships and submarines are resting at the bottom of the oceans and seas, along with the beautiful marine life. Meanwhile, Lord knows what is happening at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

12. Sports-persons and teams are winning and losing matches, sweating profusely, concentrating furiously, and calling up on their years of practice and experience. The next breed of sporting icons are going through their paces, tirelessly honing their skills.

13. Youngsters are thinking about their next witty one-liner or meme that will give them maximum visibility on social networking websites. Pictures are being clicked with the cell phone pointing at the mirror.

14. Investments are being made, trades are being executed, deals are getting finalized, fortunes are being made and lost in the corporate world and financial markets.

15. People are posting handwritten letters.

16. Grandmothers are knitting woolen sweaters for their grand-kids.

17. Scientists are furiously researching, discovering and inventing. Astronomers are gazing into the cosmos, trying to unravel the innumerable secrets it holds.

18. People are dying of hunger and walking miles to get a bucket of water for their family. Corrupt politicians, statesmen and bureaucrats are plundering tax payers’ money into personal offshore accounts. Citizens are paying bribes to get to the front of every queue imaginable.

19. Engineers and IT professionals are tirelessly working on designing and releasing the latest gadget or software update.

20. Civic workers are cleaning sewage tunnels and pipes, the cities beneath our cities.

21. People are making love. Soldiers are fighting wars.

22. Someone else is reading this too.

These and many other things are happening at any given point of time. The next time you feel lonely in your misery or joy, remember you are not alone.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

5 Library and Bookstore Thoughts

I love reading and hence, often find myself at my local library and in bookstores. The other day when I was at the library, I suddenly realized that I've always had these few thoughts about libraries and bookstores that have been floating around in my head since the time I was a kid.

1. This place is like a city in itself. Like an artists' colony. Where the best, also-rans and mediocre folks stand side-by-side, proudly flaunting their titles on their spine.

2. Don't these books get tired standing all the time? I mean, I'm sure they'd love to lie down on their front and back once in a while, like we humans do while sleeping.

3. I often see people picking up books from one section, say Fiction and keep them in another section, say Non-Fiction, when they 
decide they don't want to buy or issue it. At such times, these books must be feeling so awkward, being in another territory. Do the books of that  section give them the cold-shoulder treatment till an attendant returns them to their correct section? Or do they exchange friendly banter? I wonder.

4. What happens during the night-time, after the library or bookstore shuts down? Do they all come out and party, play, stretch themselves and then hurriedly go back to their shelves as the day breaks? Because I swear when I go to the library on consecutive days, sometimes I see some books on a completely different shelf than where they were the day before. Well, I now know this is because someone else must have shifted their place, but I was a kid when this struck me. Such thoughts tend to occur at that age.

5. Finally, this is the one thought that troubles me even today, whenever I step inside a library or bookshop. I can't help thinking how books must be feeling so very suffocated being shut all the time. Especially the titles which people browse through rarely. I look at them, standing straight and shut. I hear their silent cries, imploring us to open them and devour what they have to offer. At such times, I feel like opening each one of them and reading them.

Well, these are just my thoughts, but I feel we all should read more.