the other kind of blast

“I go to my friends place where we play cards and have a blast” says a young citizen of delhi in today’s morning paper.
I have lost about 10 000 rupees in three days but will make it up” adds another.
They are both between the age of 15 and 20.

I sometimes tell children around me, that in our day and times we have a two-caste system: one that has money and one hat does not have money.

This often said in a light vein.. sometimes tinged with cynicism..However the last year has brought to light many incidents that somehow seem to prove me right..

In search of the elusive 4000 people who would part with the even more elusive one rupee-a-day, we tried to establish contact with groups and institutions where we thought we could find what we sought. Colleges, well frequented coffee parlours and boof stores, large offices and much more. Everywhere we were saddened to see that no one was interested in parting with what does not even buy you a quarter cup of coffee, for a cause!

This post is not meant to be a sermon or discourse or a blame game.

But we must realise that masterminds of 29/10 need executors and these come from within us, often because young people living in the same city on the other side have dreams and aspirations but no one to fulfill them. They often suffer humiliation and need outlets to regain their misplaced dignity.

It is for us to decide whether we will give it back to them or leave them to the wolves waiting in the wings..

The answer is ‘education’ and that little rupee does just that!

all is well on planet Delhi

all is well on planet Delhi


There is something about India…

It all began as a grim day, fuelled by the ability we human have of conjuring the worst when the door bell rang and f a tiny voice said ” maam kahan hai” – where is maam -. For an instant I wondered whetherI had lost it and was hearing voices!

Then in came mr popples holding his father’s hand. Nikhil – the dad- had some work to do at my home and mrp had come along. mr p’s dad , or rather the one who has given a name to this child conceived during a drunken brawl, is a carpenter, just like the father of a very special being we all know..

His constant babble, as he settled to share breakfast in the kitchen, suddently dispelled the gloom around and brought us all back to normalcy. So after a hearty breakfast drowned in dollops of tomato ketchup, or chutney as mr p calls it, I decided to go out and shop.

I must say one was apprehensive of finding empty markets, but this is India and people had decided not to give in to fear. Somehow they understood that this was the only way to defeat the purpose of terrorist attacks . Normalcy had to return and even in the affected parts, shops opened after the authorities cleaned up the debris in record time.

The citizens of Delhi took charge of their destiny and set aside the feeble sugestion of keeping markets closed. It was heartwarming to see that everyone held the same discourse: we have to carry on as if nothing had happened.. yes we do mourn those who lost their lives, but this is the only befitting way to tell them that their lives did not go waste..

Delhi today sprung back to normal, with determination and a spirit that needs to be saluted.. and maybe mr p. decided to come and show me the way!

morning has broken…

The morning after has broken, the sky is just lighting up and soon the sun will rise…

Nature does not wait for anyone or change its course with the flavour or mood of events gone by.. does not get influenced by the gore of the media or the empty words of sympathy of those who are maybe the ones in some way responsible for the situation. Nature carries on..

Many messages waited in my mailbox this morning expresing concern and anger and seeking answers to a multitude of questions, questions for which I too seek answers…

Women and children died in yesterday’s bombs, many are still fighting for their lives… The state machinery is runing helter skelter for answers as the opposition is sharpening its knives and waiting to pounce..

The media is playing and replaying the same gory unedited scenes in the hope of raising their TRPs, not realising that with each replay it is sending messages of hate to one community and fear to the other thus giving more fuel to divisive forces .. the rumour mills are afloat enjoying the sinister show with barely concealed glee..

The masterminds, safe in their anonymity, are enjoying the show, and the nameless and faceless backers are counting the profits of the renewed sales of their macabre ware…

The rich will shun markets and tell their kids to do the same for a while… the poor will have to overcome their fear and set out to earn the food for the day.. the foreign friends wil shun our land and though the big business will survive, the livelihood of many will come to naught…

Such dastardly acts can only be answered by not giving in to fear, by going on with one’s life with renewed determination… by refusing to listen to the half baked information .. by spurning with disdain nd contempt those who want to benefit by such acts..

Are we not in the habit of assigning to karma what we cannot explain, cannot or do not want to face.. often as an act of weakness.??

Why can we not for once use the karmic explanation in a positive way and get on with our lives.. continue to trust those we have till a few seconds before the lound bang.. can we not for once look with our own eyes and see that the picture that is appearing on the screen is the same one over and over again, can we not for once think with our own minds and understand who will benefit and who will suffer.. can we not for once be true and honest citizens of this land that has now for too long borne the burden of man-made division..

Can we not fall in love with India and do what is best for her?

blowin’ in the wind

Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
wrote Dylan in 1962..

I guess he never could have imagined that more than four decades and innumerable deaths later we are still counting.. even the wind must have got tired of blowing an answer no one heeds.

Delhi was rocked by three bloody bombs blasts… one exploded just a stone’s throw from project why.. and I ask who died: simple people doing their last minute shopping, just in time to meet the yearly tryst with ‘dhan teras’ the day on which even the poorest of the poor buys at least one ustensil for his home… women who waited for saturday evening to do their last minute shopping, buy their Lakshmi and Ganesh idols, and the lamps and crackers their children must have demanded..

People die every day… but what makes one angry is when they die as a result of extreme cowardice, used by fellow human beings to espouse their agendas – in the name of religion or man made divisions.

I guess the God in whose name such dastardly acts are committed has no option but to bow his head in shame..

We were all looking forward to next week when festivals of two religions were to be celebrated; do we realise that tomorrow one community may look at the other with mistrust, anger, if not hate..

New agendas of hate will be found, new ways to further divide what was beginning to heal.. What makes me shudder is that masterminds manage to fuel simple people to execute these heinous crime… and they are the ones who ultimately pay for them.

When I look around me I can almost sense the optential executor: the misunderstood adolescent who is beaten at home, the young slum kid humiliated by his school teacher, the young man spurned by his girl friend’s family.. and waiting in the sinsiter wings are those who will take over these weak minds and use them..

Are there lessons to be learnt?

The first one is not to give in to fear and to carry on living a normal life – that is the short term lesson. But there is another one – a long tern one – one that we are trying to fulfill in our little way.

apocalypse why….

Many a times I have wondered why funders are reluctant to fund running costs and staff honoraria.. I always felt it was because administation costs were heavy; to my mind project why did not fit the picture, as our salaries went to the slum people and above all we were creating new job opportunities..

I got my answer when a net friend visited pwhy recently and elucidated the matter. She heads a small employee funding group within a large organisation and has been engaged in helping out development work in many countries. She told me that at the outset they had funded running costs, and even though they had been assured that it was for a limited time, they had actually found themselves doing this year after year as there was always a valid reason and one does not leave children in the lurch. She added :” they just became dependant on us”.

For me it was like the dropping of the proverbial penny!

The glove fitted.. was this not what was happening to us, where many of the pwhy team were sinking into a false comfort zone, and some of us were seeking help over and over again saying that this would be the last time!

It would be untrue and unfair to say that we did not try ways to sustain our activities. Over the past years we have like many other NGOs made our share of candles, paper bags, jewels, jute bags, recycled paper copy books.. but in a saturated market we were not able to go beyond a few ‘pity’ sales!

We realised that unless a local market within the community was found, such efforts would not be suficient to sustain project why’s activities.

We were aware that the funding solution had to be found within and that is how the one-rupee idea took seed. A quick calculation of the number of dwellings that surround us – mostly middle class homes- showed us that a simple rupee a day frome each one of them would see us through.. but then someone had to walk up the stairs and knock at doors…

The problem lies elsewhere.. we can go on harping on the lack of concern and heart of the rich around us, but we cannot close our eyes to another factor which contributes to our lack of success: I will simply call it the government job syndrome and it ails most of the slum work force.

The same people who toiled in the fields and in their homes from dawn to dusk in their villages, feel that once they reach urban lights they have earned the right to get a salary without any effort or commitment..

One of the reasons I guess that has delayed the real take off of the 0ne-rupee-a-day campaign is this passive and non-productive attitude.. there are some people who have realised the futility of such an attitude and that is why the secondary section is almost self-sustainable.. but that is not the case with all..

So what does one do, carry on bringing doses of oxygen with the dangers of having sources – however friendly and supportive – die out, or take an extreme action, just like the one a sensible parent would take with a child who has set on a wrong course.

In our situation it would be to stop all activities unless all beneficiaries – staff and parents – do their bit.. Let us say bring 50% of the ressources in cash or kind..

It is not an easy thing to do– just as it is not easy to throw a child out in the cold to teach him how to deal with life.. but it seems more and more likely that this is the only way left..

What is left to be decided is when…