Random conversations that made sense in December!

I love talking! ¬†May be that is why I started blogging in the first place. ūüėõ¬†There is nothing like a good conversation to open up your senses or put you into deep thinking. The¬†individual¬†perspectives on relevant or irrelevant matters help broaden your understanding of people around you. In this article, I will be sharing a few of the random conversations I had while I was on a vacation in India.

On my way to Jaipur, I met two adorable girls, a 10 year old and a 12 year old accompanied by their mother. The girls were equally¬†mischievous¬†and intelligent. So, I strike up a conversation with both of them and start asking them about the latest release- Dabangg 2. The girls were quick to say that they thoroughly enjoyed the film and wished we had more cops like Chulbul Pandey in Delhi Police. At first instance, I had a hearty laugh but when I asked them why do they think this way, both of them quoted the Delhi Rape Case. (It was definitely the last thing I wanted to hear)¬†The girls also pointed at an article published in the Times of India which described the failure of¬†Delhi¬†police to judge the molestation of a 12 year old in a moving DTC bus. I was surprised to see how quickly the kids these days can understand such situations. I shared with them an incident that happened with me four and a half years ago. It was a small case of my mobile phone being picked from my trouser’s pocket but it left a lasting impression. It was not the crime which offended me as a citizen but the attitude of the police which came as a shocker. I caught the thief the moment he stole my phone and saw him pass it on to his partner. Though I grabbed one of them by the collar, I could not get hold of the second one as he ran away too quickly. I shouted, created a scene, gathered the crowd and dragged the thief to Uttam Nagar Police station. (Honestly, I have never been so proud of my loud voice and the ability to create a mountain of a molehill. But in this incident, it was my flaws that helped me.) I handed over the culprit to the police and he was taken in custody. A police personnel then took me to the crime site and was quick to throw the case off to Janakpuri jurisdiction as the crime site was 20 centimeters away from Uttam Nagar jurisdiction. I found it absolutely ridiculous but little did I know that the worst was yet to come. When I came back to the police station, I demanded a full body search of the thief though I knew he passed over the phone to his partner. It was at this moment when I got to know that the thief had escaped from the custody. This was more than enough to make me lose my temper and forget that I have a family to worry about and its the police I am raising my voice against. I wrote an FIR report myself as the police was not ready to file one and courageously mentioned ‘The thief was handed over to the police but the police helped him escape and were negligent the whole time. I did my duty as a law abiding citizen but the policemen failed to perform their’s.’ None of the things I did changed anything about the situation. However, when I used ‘approach’, not only did I get a brand new phone, I was also dropped off to my destination in a police jeep in no time. I was asked to withdraw my FIR for obvious reasons. It was after this that I understood that one should stop hoping for protection and justice from them and be their own bodyguards without abusing the law.

As I got to know the girls better, I asked them about their school. They were absolutely elated at the question. It was quite apparent that they loved going to school. Turns out the school in Rohini, Delhi is a public school named after the first Indian religious, education and social reformer- Raja Ram Mohan Roy. Any amount of¬†honour¬†for this man shall be less. I was disappointed when I came to know that neither of the two girls knew about him. The younger one excused herself by saying that she has never seen his photograph or statue in her school, so she has no idea who he was. The only pictures or statues in her school are those of Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Shiela Dixit. (Do I need to say anything more? I am pretty sure you would’ve guessed my reaction. Since these were kids, I¬†preferred¬†to shut my mouth.)¬†I then gave them a fifteen minute talk to educate them about one of the greatest reformers India ever produced and his reforms which paved way for new and liberated India. However, amidst everything I realised, we put him on pedestal by naming him as ” The Father of Modern India” but we do not give him his due respect. That is exactly what we have been doing with everything. We have been worshipping and considering things to be sacred whereas we should be applying them in our daily life. ¬†Late Sri Raja Ram Mohan Roy had been fighting against the rotten ideologies that hold no value in present time for decades. He questioned the popular beliefs of Hindus for years and tried his best to establish gender equality in the country. If only we had followed his teachings and not considered them sacred, we would have progressed much before.

The second¬†incident¬†happened in the metro when I was on my way to New Delhi Railway Station. I was travelling in the normal coach in Delhi metro not in the one that is reserved for women when I overheard a conversation between two middle aged men. And of course the topic of the day was, “Delhi Rape Case”. No surprises there! Both the men condemned the crime and were displeased with the government’s attitude. Everything was going in their¬†favour¬†until one of them started to brag about how he has taught his daughter to stay in “her limits” and he is confident that such a thing will never happen with her. Clearly, this man had failed to understand that the plethora of angry men and women at various hotspots of¬†Delhi¬†have been fighting against the idea of keeping women in bounds. Not only that, he indirectly justified the act and stigmatised the rape survivors. If I were a boy being raised with a sister, I would be ashamed of myself if my sister was taught to guard herself because men have no self-control.

One fine evening, I was having a conversation with my mother about how suffocating Delhi has proven to be since December 16. I did not understand why one unfortunate incident was hyped so much? I understand the aggression of the¬†protesters¬†and appreciate their efforts, but I fail to understand, why are all rapes not highlighted as much. There is no question that this case was horrific, but then which rape case isn’t? I was amazed to see the uprising of people and it gave me a ray of hope too. I could see that there exists a section of the society which recognises the need for a change in the mentality of people, while there is another which demands stricter laws. The former demanded a long term solution while the latter saw short term gains. Also, what’s with the names ‘Nirbhaya’, ‘Desh ki Beti’, ‘Amanat’, ‘Damini’? Why did we suddenly feel the need to give the rape survivor a name? Have we again discriminated or have we been biased in a subtle way? These questions left me perplexed for a very long time and I still do not have concrete answers or may be I am purposely not trying to find the answers.

I was constantly following the international reports about the mishap and the coverage was particularly ironic to the recent media controversy over a rape in Ohio. I am 100% sure, more than half of those reading this article would not even be aware of the Ohio controversy. What saddened me more was that my fellow countrymen did not hesitate in sharing these reports on social media platforms. Some even included them in their blogs with additional graphical details. Ethical and unbiased journalism clearly vanished when it came to this particular case. Some websites tried to generate more hits while juvenile writers and organisations saw it as their claim to fame.

Today, I see three different kinds of people in the society.

1. Who are willing to help and be the agents of change.

2. Who shout along with the former but chicken out when it comes to implementation

3. Who laugh at the situation or try to benefit from the situation. This also includes those who are indifferent.

I don’t know who is worse, the second category or the third? ¬†But there is one thing which is very evident in the Indian middle class and that is the desire to change. I hope it does not fade quickly.

Those interested in knowing more about the ohio rape case the following link summarises a few facts http://prinniefied.com/wp/

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Dil se Dilli

I know I should be writing the chapters of my thesis and do some literature search and review but I find writing about general stuff more interesting. So here I sit and write about my home-town. I never realised when I fell in love with Delhi until I had to re-locate in 2008. In past 4 and a half years, I have hardly been able to spend time in the city and I miss it all the time. (Clearly, I am homesick and I need to cave in.)

Geographically,region in North India that includes the Union Territory of Delhi, cities of Ghaziabad and Noida in U.P. and Gurgaon and Faridabad in Haryana together form the Delhi/NCR region. However, the residents dissociate themselves from the inhabitants of the NCR by classifying them as ‘pseudo-delhites’ and ‘non-natives’. This is highly evident especially in cases of road rage where regardless of whose fault it was or where you originate from, you are subjected to the rant; ” Abey B****c***, saala, jaat kahin ka!! Teri maa ki… @#$%^&**. Bahar nikalo inhe yahan se. Kharaab kar di dilli.” Inclusion of the NCR region in UCT of Delhi has also changed the meaning of the word ‘bhaiya’. Traditionally used in¬†Hindi¬†language to address elder brother with respect, owing to the recent rise in population of people from other parts of India especially Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, its usage has become highly controversial. Well these ‘bhaiyas’ are really smart tough. They exactly know how to give delhites a taste of their own medicine. If you hear a vegetable vendor or an auto wallah or a painter talk back to your family members and address them as Aunty Ji or Uncle Ji¬†irrespective of the age, do not get offended. You know where it is coming from! (I¬†believe its a brilliant comeback.:P)

The capital of India welcomes people from all parts of the world as there is plenty in store for everyone.¬†A mix of all the Indian cultures and many others from around the world, its hard to divide the people. However, Delhi has long been battling the prejudices against the muslims and the north-east Indians in particular. The word ‘chinki’, a racial slur, is a part of a Delhites vocabulary. It is surprising that the Delhites did not even realise that the term is derogatory and racist until the¬†Ministry of Home Affairs asked all the states and union territories to book anyone who commits an act of atrocity against people from the region under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Oh boy! 5 years of imprisonment if you call someone a ‘Chinki’… Better watch your tongue Delhites!¬†The muslims are the¬†worst¬†sufferers¬†when it comes to finding houses as its very hard to escape the¬†stereotypes¬†with the landlords. The community in general is considered to have¬†unhygienic¬†habits and people are mostly¬†mistaken¬†to be terrorists. The city is always on high alert and prone to terrorist attacks which has forced Delhites to not trust anyone. The condition worsens when the¬†individual¬†has a muslim name. Not only are they refused¬†accommodation¬†without consideration, they are often looked down upon and called ‘atankwadi‘ in retaliation when they question. All this inspite of the fact that Delhi’s history is mostly¬†Islamic. The historical monuments like Qutab Minar, Humayun Tomb and Lal Qila, which we Delhites ¬†are proud of are signatures of the Islamic rulers of the past.¬†It is disheartening to know that the muslim community has to bear such harsh attitude across¬†the city.

Despite its problems, Delhi is by far the best city in India when it comes to liveability,  food, cultural diversity and education. It is the home to prime educational institutes such as, the Indian Institute of Technology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi University, Jamia Hamdard University and Jawaharlal Nehru University. We do lack an Indian Institute of Management but I am hopeful we will get one very soon.

The city where originated the mughlai cusine ¬†with the famous kebabs, tandoori chicken and biryani, also has its own version of ¬†delicacies from other parts of the¬†world such as the ‘Chicken tandoori panini’, ‘Chinese chaat’, ‘fried momos’ to name a few. The concept of ‘dhabas’ and ‘street food’ is highly popular and well suited to the needs of the habitants.¬†The city loves its food so much that it has an entire street, Paranthe Wali Gali in the busiest market, Chandini Chowk, dedicated to it (karim’s pe murga aur shiv charan ke paranthe nahi khaaye toh janaab aapne kuch nahi khaaya.) Its indeed a foodie’s paradise!!

¬†Oh! By the way, those waterballs which tantalize your tastebuds, is called ¬†‘Gol- Gappe’ in Delhi except in Bengali market and CR Park where you may call it as ‘Fuchkas’. Also, ‘Aloo chaat’, which we are very proud of, requires the ‘Aloo’ to be FRIED and mixed with a tonne of spices. End of story!! ¬†Boiled potato would just not do and is absolutely out of question. (For all those obsessed with hygenic stuff, Bitto Tikki Wala is the safest option. Zyada posh hona hai toh Bikaner aur Agarwal bhi hai!)

Delhi is the ‘power hub’ of India as it is home to the prime minister, the president and other prominent political leaders which decide the country’s future. The¬†prevalence¬†of¬†political¬†infrastructure and habitats in the city have influenced the life of the commoners as well. Each and every individual in Delhi has some or the other connection with either a ‘lukha’ or a well known politician. The dialogues, “Tu jaanta nahi hai ki mera baap kaun hai?“,”Tu bas kaam bol, sab setting ho jayegi” are often uttered for a reason.

Similar to the other cities in India, Delhi too has a distinctive lingo with Urdu and English influenced Hindi and a very distinguished vocabulary. Some of the phrases which form a part of a delhites routine dictionary are:

  • ‘Jugaad’, in essence, jugaad is a tribute to native genius, and lateral thinking. It means “can do.” or where there’s a will, there’s a way.
  • Hool Dena‘, meaning to threaten,
  • ‘Lanka Lagna/Lag gayi‘, used when a major trouble hits with everything going wrong and ultimately turning into a disaster
  • ‘Sidey‘; a sidekick or a minor character usually used to describe people with not so prominent roles when narrating a real life incedent
  • ‘Tharki’ , meaning someone who is horny, coquettish, flirtatious
  • Bakchodi’ Absolute bullshit
  • ‘Thulla/Thulli‘¬†Delhi speak for a police constable
  • ‘Behenji Turned Mod’ ¬†A family-type¬†chokri¬†who has suddenly taken to fashion and the good life.
  • ‘Fuchhas’ a college fresh-man
  • ‘Staff’ orginally meaning the member of faculty. However, in Delhi University, the term is used by students from a college when asked by a bus conductor to buy a ticket. It is more of a threat in this case, meaning that the conductor better allow the concerned student(s) free travel or else the bus driver and conductor ¬†will be beaten up by the student(s)’ henchmen.

If insulting our own countrymen and co-habitants wasn’t enough, we delhites also coined a term for the NRIs which the entire country readily accepts. The link for the same is¬†http://samosapedia.com/e/ungli-ready! ¬†ūüėÄ

Although, the city is prone to terrorist attacks, these never say die spirited people with huge hearts (‘Dilwale‘) continue to live happily without complaining. The phrase, ‘Life goes on no matter what‘ is truly applicable to the delhites¬†along with¬†the mumbaikars. Its a city of vivid and bright colours, with people so different and yet alike, with something to give to anyone who wants to be a part of it. No wonder I love it to bits and the little memories that I made with my friends and family in the city are treasured forever.

We may be ‘show offs’, ‘loud’, annoying and ‘snobs’ of the first lot, but you may never find a friend like us (if you manage to¬†befriend¬†us… which is easy… just show a lot of love and take everything we say lightly..basically tolerate us) ever in your life.

No one lives life the way a Delhite does and you need to live it to know it.

Before I sign out, I leave you with the map of India according to a Delhite. Its as true as it could be.

P.S. I decided to skip describing the experience of shopping in Delhi as I was afraid that I would not be able to confine myself and go on to write a tremendously long post.