There was an era, an era long gone when stars and ice creams were much more valuable than billions of dollars. Unimaginable? Well rewind your life around 15-17 years (if you are in your 20s) and you might remember that indeed stars and ice creams were priceless. They were the joy that money could never buy, they were the motivation to excel that no preacher can match, they were gifts that sophisticated electronics could never surpass. Yea those stars and ice creams that marked our copies of nursery and kindergarten classes. They were, in true sense a remarkable feat in instilling an unparalleled competitive spirit. A more humane and more compassionate one. All this might look stupid but then I have my right to speak up to my heart’s content. Wondering what was so remarkable about those senseless things from the past?
Think about it this way. They were a reflection of nature and the human instinct. They were the most subtle display of art, unique to the teacher. Each one different from the others, different kind of stars, varying numbers, Ice creams with different toppings, different shapes, hearts, smiley, suns and what not, making a unique permutation every time. Believe me they were far more beautiful than the monotonous, ugly and seeming dull number system that we graduated to.
We strived to get that work of art marked on our copies much more than we sweated to get a perfect 10. One more thing about these art works was that they were incomparable unlike those numbers or grades. We do realise that all human progress is a result of a tiny belief that each one of us carries in our hearts, a belief that there is still something left to conquer. While numbers defined what’s achievable example there is nothing beyond a 10/10 but ice creams and stars like real stars were unconquerable. There was always something that was left to achieve.
While getting a star on the notebook set a aflame a fire to get more the next time, getting a 10 only increased expectations from the people around.
Well this just one side of the story, the joy of achieving. There is another to it as well, the joy of giving. If you have a sharp memory, or if you find time just look into the face of a kindergarten teacher while she is scribing the art work on a notebook. It’s like she is putting her heart on that notebook. The endless joy with every movement of the pen, the multitude of ‘V’ in front of good and the exclamation marks that follow is a splendid sight. You’ll never see that expression on the face of someone who is dealing with those numbers. Why? That’s what people call growing up?
Creating hype about ‘real’ world and doing away with all the beautiful things in life? Well everything that marks a dot on the axis of time is real. The stars and the ice creams are very much real irrespective of your belief. For me the stars would remain beautiful, unconquerable and inspirational.
Somehow, accidentally or intentionally, I had a brief encounter with Delhi. The capital holds a certain charm, captivating each passer-by. The capital has a story to tell, a story quite unique, different from the rest of India. The enticing prospects of the city begin with the speeding BMWs, Mercs, Bentleys and all the world’s finest cars. Though the realization of being in India comes, when those cars zip past the slums. Delhi is at its heart a city of dreams, dreams which are never realized, dreams which are conquered and dreams which are yet to be seen. Delhi isn’t as welcoming a city though it has everything what it takes to bind the people. It has so much to offer, you just need to find things which charm you and you can stick to them as long as you want or with your struggle you might end up getting all those things around.
The hopes, the aspirations that the city is able to arouse are clearly visible in the eyes of the people. Climb in any metro and you would get to know what Delhi is all about. There are eyes filled with hopes, dreams and aspirations to make it large, there are others with certain gloom and disappointment. Some are romantically secluded, some just lonely. Some eyes carry the pride of achievement a sense of fulfillment of purpose and some are just content otherwise. The mornings usually tell the story of energy, hopes and persistence, the evenings are result oriented; some happy, some content, some overjoyed some gloomy. In those gloomy eyes too I find certain zeal to come back again and give it another shot. From shabbily dressed people to executives you find the social gap almost abridged. You find children filled with an awe for life, its methods and its learnings. You see warmth being exchanged not bothered about the world. The metro most certainly is the soul of Delhi.
Delhi is India’s gateway to the world, the culture is so influenced by what’s happening around the far west. The two lettered word, the hub for the cross-culture movement, yes DU. If there exist something as losing your own identity disorder, then believe me this place has maximum number of patients. But unarguably the people there do reflect the changing scenario in India. With DU come the DU girls. To define them it would take ages, but choosing my words from the famous think different commercial of Apple Inc. “They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.”
For some they are the best incentives on the planet, for some the most ruthless breed of humans and for a few ignorant some they are just another species of slaves of the west.
South Delhi is the geographic center for power and money. The lush green area with large bungalows and few of the most talked about addresses in the country creates some psychological perception beyond comprehension, you do not know what it is but there is a different sensation in the mind.
Once you reach Rajpath, the ceremonial boulevard of India it’s an altogether a different feeling. The chest expands with pride, the shoulders broaden, the spine straightens and the head rises high, maybe sound a little crazy but it all did happen to me. You get the sight of the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the Sansad Bhawan and various ministerial blocks. The ecstasy of being an Indian reaches the maximal. Walk down a little more and stand beneath the India Gate, your head rises higher, the hand automatically reaches the forehead to salute the brave sons of the soil.
Connaught Place, another landmark place to visit in Delhi. Suddenly the world turns black and white, the days of the British Raj are back close your eyes and feel the Indian sepoys in their half pants policing the area, the English saheb roaming around in the old ford T models etc now a vintage thing and the ladies shopping around. “Indians not allowed” type of place.
Finally how can I not choose to mention the Bhartiya Prodyogiki Sansthan (Indian Institute of Technology or IIT Delhi), though missed by many, its a quintessential part of the city, the territory of the super brainy, the whiz kids, who are just a gang of nerds for the rest of the city but every once in a while they catch the eye with their 6-7 figure pay packages featured in the national dailies. The IIT campus gives a feel of the cocoon, which would break one day every year and hundreds of butterflies would fly.
And again in Delhi too you might find the wandering soul in the same old black tee with “United Mysteries of India”.
As I have missed quite a few places there, I would just end up with our favorite ekta kapoor punch line “To be continued…”
बड़ा ही विचित्र ज़माना है एक ओर लोग मशीन में अकल की बात कर रहे हैं, वहीँ दूसरी ओर खुद को सरलीकरण के नाम पर विविधता खोने पे मझबूर कर रहे हैं | सीधे शब्दों में कहा जाए तो विचारों का मशीनीकरण कर रहे हैं , बस यह विचार और विचार कर पाने की शमता ही मानव को पृथ्वी की सभी प्रजातियों में सर्वोच्च बनाती है | व्यवहार नमक शब्द विलुप्त होने की ओर अग्रसर है, यह सच है की सोशल मीडिया जैसे तकनिकी आधुनिकरण से अपने विचार व्यक्त करने की आजादी बढ़ रही है वहीँ संस्थानों में मत रखने के अधिकार ख़तम किये जा रहे हैं | विविधता की कमर तोड़ कर फॉर्म और प्रक्रियाओं में पिरोया जा रहा है |
कला के आयाम बढ़ रहे हैं पर कला सिमटती जा रही है | दुनिया इंग्लिश सीख रही है और भाषायों की विलुप्ति पर मगरमच्छ के आंसूं भी बहा रही है | अपने आप को जैसे ढालना है ढालिए लिए पर दूसरे को अपनी इच्छा अनुसार ढलने की वैचारिक तथा व्यवहारिक स्वतंत्रता तो दीजिये | पूर्ण आजादी भी बुरी है, आजादी के साथ आने वाली ज़िम्मेदारी का एहसास होना अनिवार्य है, पर इस भावना को समझपाने भर की अकल भी यंत्रीकरण की आग में स्वाहा हो गयी । आजादी का जुमला जैसे कंप्यूटर में डाल दिया गया हो बस यह शब्द सुनते ही कार्यवाही करना चालू, मोमबत्तियां लेकर चौराहे पे रवाना, बिना सोचे बिना जाने |
वक़्त की मांग है बहुमुखी व्यक्तित्व संवारना, इस बारे में बात भी की जा रही है, लिखा भी जा रहा, पर शिक्षण संस्थानों के पाठ्यक्रम में नज़र नहीं आ रहा है । यह भी हो सकता है की बहुमुखी विकास अर्थ अंग्रेजी बोल पाना और कंप्यूटर पे दक्षता हासिल करना ही हो, क्यूंकि जो हो रहा है उससे सिर्फ सरपट अंग्रेजी बोलने वाले , कंप्यूटर पे धडाधड बटन दबाने वाले और 9-5 एक ही काम बार-बार करने वाले औज़ार पैदा हो रहे हैं | 2005 के बाद आये गतिवाद में कब तक 90-95 का कम्प्यूटरीकरण करेंगे और विडम्बना यह है की कंप्यूटर आगे बढ़ लोग वहीँ रह गए | ग्यानी महात्मा कह गए होंगे की स्वयं को वक़्त के अनुसार बदलो, पर महान लोग सिद्ध कर गए की वक़्त उनके अनुसार चलता है | किसी ज़माने में ऊँगली पकड़ कर चलना सिखाया जाता था और फिर बेपरवाह बचपन व्यतीत करने दिया जाता आज हालात ऐसे हैं की कॉलेज जाने वालों की भी ऊँगली पकड़ रखी है समाज ने |
आत्मिक स्वतंत्रता बरक़रार है इसलिए मैं ऊँगली पकड़ने से इनकार करता हूँ, आपको जो करना है कीजिये आपकी आजादी को ठेस पहुँचाना मेरे सिद्धांतों में नहीं | यह लेख जानबूझकर हिंदी में लिखा गया है , मैं अंग्रेजी के खिलाफ नहीं, मैं अंग्रेजी थोपे जाने के खिलाफ हूँ |
Someone rightly said the best way to experience a place and its people is to straight away hit out at the streets (well that someone might just be me). Especially in a country like mine it provides a taste of all its unity and diversity.
Walking along the road you find beautifully decorated shops geographically encompassing the footpath area as well (leaving a footpath as a footpath is a cardinal sin for a shop owner). Coming back to the road you would find veiled beauties on their scooterettes heading towards their base camp for waging war against India. And not to forget there are a few bikers following them hoping of an encounter (don’t read fierce gun battle stuff). And if your feet stop supporting you, you should stop at a tea stall where all kinds of socio-political issues are discussed and multi-million dollar business deals are struck. Whoa fool you are if looking for a public transport and waiting at the bus stop. Every place other than a bus stop is a bus stop and the best thing being even an intersection on a road is a bus stop. Swiftly slip into one of those boxes called public transport and don’t expect a seat as you are the 150th person on board where there are seats for just 50. You get down at your desired location and you would discover that colonies of mosquitoes and and humans do co-exist. Walking across, you accidentally are attracted towards a piece of clothing on a shop and when you land in the shop you would realize that the net worth of the products shown to the customer would be around 400 times the net value of items sold ( #window shopping ). More Indians speak English than the total population of the Great Britain and that is the reason why you would come across a studio proclaiming “proposel speslist”, a couple of shops saying “oswal sop”, ” cow ghee”, “celender”. Not to forget the temple in the middle of the road which might read “visa wale hanumanji” or” bijli wale bholenath”. There are free spirited wanderers, there are drunkard maniacs, there are the stalkers’ brigades and there are god’s finest creations, well there is no end to what the street has to offer. From Tata nano to BMW series 7 grab it all. It is this place where the definition of pillion holds no meaning, 4 people on a two wheeler. From the colorful stall of the fruit seller to the filthy pharmacy, from the neatly spread out saree shop to the refreshing soda shop we have it all. Don’t be astonished to find a nepali lifting his auto while the hydraulic jack is laying at rest nearby, don’t be astonished to see a man with an iPhone enjoying the flavors of an ice candy, don’t be astonished to see a militia coming to thrash you up if you meet a girl accidentally ( reading meeting an accident involving a girl), don’t be astonished to find an ordinary man with a belt boldly stating “versace” just have a look at his wrist and you might find a swatch or Rolex ( there is no guarantee about the originality of the goods ). Come across a park and you have love birds unmoved by the motion on the streets. If you are new to this country and were wondering what those rusty red spills on the walls and on the road are, let me take you the factory then.
“Panwala” though not pretty much the same as the one yelling “dobara mat puchna” in a tv commercial but yeah an interesting character in the great Indian story. A man stuck up on his mobile phone as if he is the personal aid to the President of India, a master at multi tasking one hand on the pan other dispensing the side items such as cigarettes etc. Unbelievably that 4X4 shop has a color TV where the rest of India watches team India being pissed off by the English. And you thought that he would have a cleaning cloth at his disposal to clean his rusty red hands, I swear if he is true to his profession he would wipe them on his head.
The street is a word in unison with motion.
You see people heading endlessly to eternity, to a horizon, the horizon of faith. That faith which has single handedly set and maintained this country in motion.
At the end of the day you find a man with a black Tee with a tricolored Rubik’s cube and a small line stating “The united mysteries of India”.