THE little boy and the old man

Play :- THE little boy and the old man

Act 1, Scene 1
Place : An overcrowded shopping centre, New Delhi
Actors : THE little boy, THE old man

The Friday night chill was just settling amidst the brilliant lights of District centre. The square was warming up to welcome the Friday night revellers underneath a vast star spangled sky. The little boy was walking with his eyes open wide with amazement. Every little movement, the tiniest hustle and bustle lit up the little boy’s face like a small fiery lantern on narrow metal buoy drifting in a vast dark ocean. His hands were firmly clasped in a rigid grip by the old man’s sinuous and wrinkled hands. Every little shake the little boy gave, made the grip stronger and stronger. The old man was walking with his head bowed and casting furtive, disapproving glances all around. The little boy was walking with a small polythene containing his new GIJOE set when he noticed the abnormally high number of policemen in the square. When the old man followed the boy’s gaze, he could feel a chill going down his spine.

The old man said, “There must be a bomb nearby. We should never have come here. The police are looking for some terrorists. We need to get out of here. Why do you always cry for toys. See where we have landed.”
The little boy was watching the whole scene with joy filled curious eyes, “The police. I have never seen them so close. They don’t look bad. They look just like you.”
The old man flinched on hearing this, “Are you mad ? Me like a policeman. Let’s get away from here before we get caught in some trouble. Hide that polythene of yours. What if the policemen see it? Carrying polythene is illegal. Why do you always make me wish I was never with you?”. The little boy said, “Look at that policeman, he is smoking in public, we should go and tell him what he is doing is not correct.”
The old man replied, “Are you out of your mind? He will book us, beat us and do what not. Let us get the hell out of here.”
The little boy said, “But we should at least object. Should we not raise our voice? That policeman is being paid out of your money. In that case, you deserve the highest right to tell him that he is not doing his work properly.”
The old man rolled his eyes wide and barked, “You are insane. You should listen to me. I have seen so many things happen and I know exactly what these people are. These ideas do not work in the real world.”
So saying the old man dragged the little boy whose little bright round brown eyes were still cast upon the scene with the same glow as it was when he had first seen it.

End of Scene 1

Both the little boy and the old man are inside each one of us. The old man keeps getting old and rigid with each passing day but like a ray of hope the little boy is always present inside us. He will always be with us and ensures our very existence remains human. The little boy makes each one of us, human. It is regrettable that we turn a blind eye and deaf ear to humanity and embrace rigidity. The old man is weighed down by his experiences with a big bad world, the little boy always wants to keep learning. Inside each one of there is a struggle to achieve the balance between the desire to relate new experiences with old ones and the desire to learn new experiences. What we want is to tune into the old man and the little boy talking as in the previous scene and then decide for ourselves. In that case, only we would be to blame if we chose to be human or inhuman. At least, that would be a beginning.

Disclaimer:
Mr. Vidhu Vinod Chopra, I have taken the line “These ideas do not work in the real world.” from your movie 3 Idiots. I hope you do not sue me. I am giving you due credit and since I do not earn anything from this blog so I cannot give you any percentage share. Please do not sue me.

Little things that matter

Life is not about the moments that take your breath away but it is about the little moments that make it breathtaking. During the course of the India – South Africa Nagpur test match, an ad appeared for a public sector bank highlighting the relationship it maintains with people. It showed a beautiful heart touching narrative where a man in his early fifties is rushing for office in the morning. His wife calls him from the balcony to come back and have his medicine which he has forgotten to take. Grumbling, the man comes up and has the medicine. What is particularly beautiful in the ad is the the simplicity and the poignant emotions on display. The masked emotion of love under the irritation displayed by the husband at his wife’s nagging is something which transcends age boundaries. The husband loves the fact this his wife loves him and cares about him. The human heart craves for a little love and care and that is what makes us so irrational over our percevied rationality. The little gestures which are part and parcel of our daily lives touch and affect us in so many ways but most of the time we are too busy and blind to notice them. I got a first hand experience of this blindness today.

Today, for breakfast, our cook auntie had prepared Poha. It was horrible to be honest. For quite sometime Abhishek, Shishir and I have been pondering over, whether we should change our cook or not. This latest incident added fuel to the fire. I decided that we should start looking for a cook seriously. Tonight when she came to prepare dinner, all the poha that was cooked for breakfast was lying untouched. I acted a bit indifferently and answered her questions to what we would have for dinner with cold indifference. She went on preparing it in her own daily way. Suddenly she came with a tray in her hand and 2 bowls of poha (the morning poha recooked with vegetables we bought in the evening) and said “The morning poha was not good”. It was delicious. This gesture of concern on her part really touched me. I felt ashamed of the thoughts I had been harbouring of looking for a new cook. My irritation and indignation of average cooking got the better of me. What I completely failed to appreciate was the fact that she was running her own household and at the same time helping me in every possible way in my existence just to come to grips with her poverty. My irritation had blinded me to the little things that matter. Thankfully, this little gesture woke me up. The little angel in my heart had overcome the big demon in my head.

Recognising these little things that matter are the real secrets to make one’s life breathtaking. Hopefully, I have taken that little step forward today.

Dear Minister, my telephone is not working

The following is my attempt to get in touch with the honourable minister of telecommunication over an issue of my telephone not working. My eyes really popped out when I read the previous line again. Writing a letter to the minister of telecommunication over my telephone not working and imagining the letter to climb up the departmental and bureaucratic public ladder without even an assurance of multi billion infrastructure gains, sounds lame but then a cup of coffee and an inquisitive mind can be a a heady mixture.
Dear Mr. Minister,
I Vivek Shah, am a citizen of the Republic of India currently residing in New Delhi and trying to sustain my existence by working as one of the innumerable IT workers. I am ordinary in every sense of the word. I am all of 24 years of age and have not seen or heard the world as much as you would have. If this letter is really being read by you, I think the politics of our country is in the right hands and the letter would have realised its goal. Since you have already taken some of your time to read till here, I might request you to read further.
I am one of those people who depend upon the telephone connection provided by MTNL for my basic sustenance. It is not because I can end up talking with my girlfriend for hours or discuss the latest happenings in Big Boss 3 with my friend. In fact the receiver on my end does not work. Its a one way traffic so that I can hear people talking about insurance policies on the other end or asking for a wrong person but I cannot just make them hear, “Just f*** off”. I am not even complaining about. My most important requirement from the telephone whose receiver lies on the floor instead of the handset, is the broadband facility.
First of all, inspite of the tall complaints, I must congratulate you on the excellent broadband facility which is provided at such an affordable price. This broadband facility is one of the most urgent requirements of my white collar job. This facility ensures that my bosses can wake me up from my beautiful dreams at 1 AM at night and ask me to stare at a piece of file on a computer in Europe because of which a person in US is not being able to print a PDF. Its a small www world these days. So, when my broadband connection was not working yesterday on 30th January, I looked into my telephone bill and called up 011-2222-1504 to register the complaint. The person who picked up the telephone, sounded offended by the idea that I wanted to register the complaint. He did not tell me anything to suggest so, but the human mind can pick up the tones so either the person who answered my call was having a bad case of throat infection and stomach disorder or I am completely off my rocker here. Anyway, he did register my complaint and I got a 4 digit complaint number 3920 as proof of my achievement. I courteously asked him by when can I expect the connection to be fixed as it was particularly urgent to me. He replied, within 24 hours. I asked him if there was something I could do to speed up the process. He said, “Call on 197 and find out the Area Managers number”. My first question lies here, since I was talking to this person for help and support(who is getting paid for it by people like me), he could have at least told me the corresponding area manager’s number itself(which I am sure would have been searchable on his computer). If my telephone is not working, how can I call up 197 and find it?
Since India is a country of charming people, my charming neighbour came to my rescue and provided me the number of Janakpuri area manager. I reside in New Mahavir Nagar and my house is a 10 minute walk from the Janakpuri telephone exchange. I called up the Janakpuri area manager and mentioned my telephone number 011-2599-7227 and complaint number and asked him if he could do something in this matter. To this, he replied “This number does not fall in my area call up Dwarka area manager” and gave me another number. Perplexed, I called up the Dwarka area manager, who replied “This number does not fall in my area call up Rajouri Garden area manager” and gave me another number. Confused, I called up the Rajouri Garden area manager who replied “This number does not fall in my area, call up the the Janakpuri area manager” and gave me another number. By this time I had gone crazy. I had gone an entire full circle with each person giving me the same templated reply(which I hope you would have noticed). I was wondering, “In which area did my telephone number lie, is it in Pak Occupied Kashmir?”. I called up the Janakpuri area manager and told him that I had gone a complete circle and what was this about. It looks to me, he was very busy and so he did not have the time to reply to such a stupid unnecessary question. So he took the shortest route possible, he just cut the call and never picked up my subsequent 6-7 calls.
Utterly dejected, I called up a linesman I knew, and he was working in the area nearby. A few kind words and requests later, the kind soul landed up in my area an hour later and fixed the problem. I can only say “Bless, his soul”.
After reading all this Mr. Minister you might wonder what is the point ? The point is inspite of the excellent and thoughtful policies and people who/which have been placed to look after these kind of problems, the entire set up has fallen flat. I have lost a little bit of faith in the whole setup to which I looked upto in order to help me when I needed it most but I have regained a little bit of faith in human relations and what 2 people who want and can try to genuinely help out each other. I might be one of those cases where Murphy’s law was true and I was the wrong person with the wrong person at the wrong place and the wrong time but I sincerely hope you don’t get letters like these more often. This letter might not have to do with any of the multi billion dollar projects/decisions/investments but it has to do with the most important facet of governance, touching the lives of those who have chosen you to govern. If the governance is not worth it, the multi billion dollar investments/infrastructures just sound very hollow.
Thank you again for the time to read my letter. Thank you again for all the work.
Jai Hind.