hijacked by hubris

It was sad to watch Delhi come to a standstill. Whereas the big fish will remain unscathed, small shopkeepers will as usual suffer.

I the days when gandhigiri is a la mode, one wonders whether bandhs are the right form of protest. Gone is the outsider, the foreign invader against whom you unite, the enemy sadly is within each one of us.

I was not surprised when a prominent TV channel dug up the erstwhile master plan for India’s capital city and revealed that only 15% of its provisions had been met, one being the creation of markets and commercial space.

Yesterday was also the day when a man got the death sentence 10 years after committing a heinous crime that he thought he had got away with simply because of his father’s position.

So where have we gone wrong or to put it otherwise what ails our society?

Somewhere down the line our entire social fabric got hijacked and we sat in silence. I have seen it myself when our neighbourhood market which a few years back had vegetable an meat shop , a haberdashery, a stationery shop, tailors and dry cleaners and more today is a haven for luxury and branded shops and jewellery stores. When a few years back only local residents came often on foot, now people come from across the town in their gleaming cars.

And when the market itself was not big enough, residential buildings around it were commandeered too! Leading to the chaos that necessitated the courts to intervene.

One may wonder how it happened? Law makers and protectors hit their eyes to small aberrations for a few pennies, and slowly greed on both sides took over till a hydra headed monster emerged and got out of control.

Today both the administrators and the administered are battling the monster that grows a new head everyday.

We are a society that got engulfed by hubris and even challenged the Gods! Now our hubristic side has been exposed as we try to make sense of things a blame game has begun. Maybe it is time we took stock of things and accepted part of the guilt. Are we not the ones to look for the easy way out, jump a few queues, grease a few palms? So why be astonished when the little drops have turned into an angry ocean ready to submerge us?

The appeasement policy and bad aid therapy of our politicians has to stop. A new master plan trying to white wash past aberrations will only delay the process. Walking over the judiciary will ultimately lead to chaos and will catch up just as it did with the man being sent to the gallows. We must finally accept part of the responsibility and each give up a little to set matters right.

Powered by Qumana

the three most beautiful words

I got a mail this morning from a friend of pwhy, who lives miles away, whom I have never met. I only know that he sees with his heart as he has always responded to my innumerable appeals with spontaneous generosity!

This is what he writes in response to my wondering why I deserve the support I get:

And do you really need to ask why
you deserve it?

Reminds me of a scene from the TV series Star Trek (In case you’re
unfamiliar with it, it is about a group of people travelling aboard a
spaceship seeking out new civilisations and trying to understand them). At
the end of one episode, the captain gestures out the window to the doctor
and says “You know, out there right now someone is saying the three most
beautiful words in the universe. Know what they are?”. The doctor looks
quizzically at him. You might expect the words to be ‘I love you’ or such
like. But the captain, gazing out of the window, says “Please. Help me.”

You are one of the few who are driven to listen for these words and try and
help out. That’s why you deserve good fortune.

I sat quietly for a long time my mind traveling at incredible speed as I went back to the days when I too had watched this episode, and wondered when and where I had learnt to listen to these words, a question I had never asked really myself. It is true that my seven years of trying to raise funds have been an eye opener and leads me to think that maybe it was the way we were brought up, the values we were taught and the education we got that made us this way. And maybe these are the very things that are slowly getting eroded leading to other ‘ideals’ where looking with your heart and giving are not on the menu.

I can only say that I feel truly blessed to have been able to find many persons who had the ability to heart these three most beautiful words loud and clear.

Powered by Qumana

rite of passage

For most I should be elated and jumping with joy – age permitting – two monumental battles were actually won in the last few days. One with a huge bank vindicating the stand that no matter how big the adversary, if truth is on your side you ultimately come out on top, the other with a large funding body that you finally manage to convince in accepting what you always intuitively held as being the right way.

For project why this has been a quantum leap from days where you wondered whether you would survive the next one, to an easy sail where you know winds are favourable for months to come.

Then why do I feel a tad sad and empty? Another why to answer.

There are many reasons. Is it because this is a rite of passage for pwhy, and all rites of passage are always difficult as they spell the end of a stage in pwhy’s life and the onset of another yet unknown? Is it because with this step pwhy gets a life beyond all else and hence deprives me of the driving seat? Is it because we are moving into a comfort zone, and to me such times are filled with hidden dangers? Is it because this will make us deviate from our main challenge; that of finding a donor base within the community we work with?

Maybe all of these in some degree or the other. The real test lies in viewing this much needed help as a way to double one’s effort towards the initial challenge that becomes more doable when one is not struggling to keep from drowning. It means a change in direction where efforts would not be on seeking help, but would have to be aimed at keeping the team sufficiently motivated and to veer them from sinking into a stage of complacency. Easier said than done when my detractors love saying that I have enormous funding that I conceal!

But no matter what, this has to be done as otherwise pwhy will lose its very essence and could just become another clone of many existing efforts. It becomes imperative to view this gift as a stepping stone to the day when the bread of pwhy – staff and space – would come from the tiny drops gathered from the community leaving the butter and jam to outside support.

Powered by Qumana

the toad in the well

Some of you may remember the little house of horrors.

We have not forgotten the children and are in the process of trying to save them, but we need to tread carefully and ensure that all aspects are covered before the final kill. The adversary is formidable and has been running this hell hole for over three decades. A master at concealing, he carries on his game fooling one and all and hiding being the garb of righteousness.

recently when some of our staff went on a cleaning and fact finding campaign they were stunned by the place and had no words to depict the horror. I had sent them to ensure that I was not overreacting and applying high standards. the ladies I sent were all from the slums and all were ready to hit the roof and had to be restrained as our game plan was not in place.

What shocked them most was the size of the solid gate and the fact that these girls could not ever see the outside world. One of them described the children as being little toads in a deep dark well looking at an inacessible sky!

Powered by Qumana

a tryst with hope

a tryst with hope


The past two months were the most difficult in my life as I almost saw pwhy slipping away for no fault of ours and though the battle was uneven, the adversary formidable, there was an imperceptible force that egged me not to give up as hope was waiting at the next corner.

For the past seven years I have been overwhelmed by the love and affection that project why has been able to garner from every corner of the world and from the humblest to the greatest. With every passing instant I could sense an incredible web of goodwill being woven to protect us from each passing storm.

It was no mean thing as I stuck to my guns and maybe went against every rule in the book to the point that the only way pwhy could be qualified was by borrowing words from St Exupery’s Little Prince: a project that saw with its heart.

Amongst the battles I fought was my stubborn refusal to accept help that seemed to be rigid and ironclad or one that entailed complex administrative paperwork.

I had first stumbled upon Asha while browsing the net and liked what I ead. Who else could be better inheritors of pwhy then young successful Indians living away from their homeland. Unfortunately time was not ripe as my first forays into the land of hope were not quite successful as we met with hurdles though every time a wonderful and warm person was at the other end of the screen.

Somehow I could not puts across the very transient nature of the community I worked with where hidden enemies abounded be they social taboos such as caste or creed, violent and aggressive people or the powers that be that were hell bent on seeing me flee. So how could I ensure that one year down the line we would have the exact profile we began with. What really frightened us was when one day a person came and spent 2 days counting the kids! What would happen if we did not meet the specs?

Then one day a tall lanky man landed on planet why, armed with a camera and an incredible smile. In my usual style I drowned him with all that was bottled up inside me and he listened patiently. The man left promising to help and we carried on surviving as usual.

Last week while driving Utpal back to boarding – always a difficult moment – the phone rang. It was our tall lanky man telling me that Asha had agreed to help us in a substantial manner and above all that he would be the one we would interact with.

I cannot begin to covey the multitude of emotions that ran through me, but I think that the most important feeling was that my stand had been vindicated and that my seven long years battling alone had ended and that I had now reached safe shores. pwhy was safe and my swan song would live beyond me.

To all that have made this possible a big thank you, to all those that I may have inadvertently upset my heartfelt apologies and to Kannan Iyer simply that I believe in miracles.

Our Asha page is here

Powered by Qumana