Sunday, September 21, 2008

Short Sighted!

I work in sales, and travel every day, visiting stores, to check how they are doing. Everyday I see various sights, meet various people, hear various conversations... and some stay on. Such was one of the encounters I had, which I wanna share with you all.

Yesterday I was at a store, talking to my retailer, when a family walked in. A man dressed in white safari suit, a lady (looked like his wife), in a brown salwar suit, complete with jewellery and sindoor, along with a baby girl, also dressed up for the occasion. The occasion? Probably to buy a new cell phone. Along with them was also a heavily built man in black sunglasses. Only after a while, when he did not remove them did I realise that he was blind.

I stood at a distance, observing the family. The little girl was running around, her daddy taking care of her. Mom was trying to keep an eye on the husband and kid, as well as look at the various models the retailer was showing them. Who was he "showing" them to? The blind man. Though I could not figure out what was the relationship of that man with the family, I did realise he was someone important. He was the one who got them here, and HE was going to buy 2 cellphones. One for himself, one for them. And he was the one taking in all information about every feature of the cell phone.

Mind you, that guy knew everything there is to know about cellphones. He was touching the dummy and figuring out every inch of the phone with his fingers. He was asking questions incessantly, and I could see the look of surprise on the retailer's face too. "I want camera.. how many mega pixels is in this phone?" I wondered what he wanted a camera for, and immediately admonished myself for being such a bitch. So what if he cannot see, that doesn't mean he cannot buy a camera phone. He was a demanding customer, he wanted to make sure he is buying the best only. He must have spent about 1/2 hour, carefully examining all the models before finally making his decision.

One of the phones cost Rs. 1515. He deftly reached into his pocket, removed his wallet, took out exactly 3 500 rupee notes, touched them to make sure that they were right. From another pocket he took out a ten rupee note and a 5 rupee coin, again confirming with his fingers that they were the right notes and coins. And so, without any help from his family, he confidently paid for his phone.. "Yeh lo bhaiya, mere 1515 rupaye." Impressed, the retailer pocketed the money and handed out the bill, which the man examined again with his fingers, then he neatly folded it and put it in his pocket. And then with a smile on his face, he beckoned the rest of the family to leave. They took his hand and helped him climb the stairs, and they were gone.

Having observed this meticulous exercise of purchasing a feature-laden cellphone, ensuring every part of the phone, charger etc. is fine, and tendering exact change, all of this WITHOUT any help from anyone, I realised that while that man was blind, it is I who was short sighted.

It is so easy for us to feel pity for physically handicapped people, without ever understanding what they go through, and most importantly, without understanding what they are capable of. Disability in itself is a derogatory term... In my experience, these people are anything but disabled! They might not possess some things we take for granted, like eyesight or a limb, but DISABLED they certainly are not. Do not assume they are incapable of taking care of themselves. Everyone deserves a life of dignity. Let us give them that. Not pity or sympathy.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Finally, It was Delhi's turn...

I was happily watching "Journey to the centre of the Earth" with 3 D goggles on my face, in a suburban theatre with Rohit, when I got the sms from my brother.. "Serial bomb blasts in Delhi. Fuck."

Short and simple, yet conveying the terror and grief that engulfed me in that moment. My mother was calling me a few minutes before I saw the sms, and I thought I'll call her later. How I regretted my decision at that time. As if God answered my prayers, right that moment the movie had its interval and I rushed out to speak to my family. Network was jammed so I could not talk immediately, but ultimately I did, and I am relieved to know all in my family are OK. I quickly smsed all my friends. Some had not even heard of the blast yet! Thankfully all those I know, they and their families are OK.

But that still doesn't mean all is OK. It pains me to think about those families who did not escape unhurt. Who suffered injuries or death. Who died for nothing. Innocent people and children, paying with their lives, for someone else's whims or frustrations.

Who is to blame? I tried to blame the Delhi Police. After all, did they not know that Delhi was the most obvious target after so many cities? Did they learn nothing from all the previous blasts? Delhi blasts happened in the most populous markets ... GK, CP...How could the perpetrators get away, yet again?

But then I realised, there is no point in blaming anyone. I guess it is unfair to expect anyone to control such a huge population with the available resources.

But that doesn't change the fact that many people have suffered today, like so many in the past, and I dread to think about, like many in the future. I am not a pessimist, but there really seems like there is no end to this madness. Madness it really is... what are these people trying to achieve, or trying to prove, by killing thousands of innocent people, I fail to understand.

I am not biased against any particular culture or religion, but fact is that most terrorist activities stem from fanatic religious beliefs. And such incidents make me hate the whole concept of religion. If this is what following a religion means... to kill innocent people, then thank you so much I am not interested, I am happy being the atheist I am. I shudder to think which city will be targetted next...

Anyway, my prayers are there with those who have suffered today, my heart aches for them all. I really hope this madness comes to an end, that someone puts some sense into these people's minds. But I guess expecting something like this is expecting utopia. Nevertheless I sincerely hope such crimes against humanity come to an end, and we can find other ways to sort out our differences.

They say Mumbai's next. I dunno how to react. People tell me to be careful. But how to be careful? I work in Sales, I need to travel by train, to save time and money. Most of my stores are in malls. Trains and malls are favourite targets for terrorists. But what to do? I cannot sit at home to protect myself, all my life! I don't wanna die prematurely, but I cant stop working either. People say that after the blasts, Mumbaikars get back to their lives immediately. Some say that's the spirit of the city, while some call it apathy. I think its just a lack of alternative. Bomb blasts or not, life goes on, and we have to move on. And we do. There is no choice here.
So even though I admit I am scared for my life living in Mumbai, I will continue to live my life to the fullest... I guess there is no better way to face death, than with a full life!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Oops! We are alive today!

I guess by now most of us have read about the experiment conducted at CERN on 10th September 2008: The Large Hadron Collider, underneath the Franco-Swiss border. For those who neither read papers or watch news too much (like me), you can find detailed information at

Now of what I heard, over 60 Indian scientists are there at CERN, an active part of the experiment. An equally large number of scientists have worked on the software and hardware required. It is indeed a moment of great pride whenever I hear of our fellow Indians doing so well in all fields of work, and making all of us proud.

And then there are those who don't make me feel proud. While a sizeable chunk of our brainiest people were helping setup the experiment, which I believe will help do a lot of good to mankind (read cancer cure, lowering pollution and global warming etc.), there are other fellow Indians who have seized the opportunity to give their vishesh tippani.... By claiming that this experiment will end the world and all of us will cease to live as on 11th Septmeber. It is 9/11 attack of its own kind.

As usual the news channels had a party with such a situation. Every Hindi News channel showcased the grief of people, emanating from the fear of being dead by the end of the day. They did not spare even little kids, who were clearly looking terrified at the thought of the world coming to a sudden end. I am pretty sure people have filled each other's minds with ideas like "It is your sins which have lead you to die a terrible death like this, the world coming to an end is all your fault..." And what is saddest is that the media is enjoying its moment of glory at the cost of other people's misery. We expect them to be educated and aware of the situation, to know the facts and tell people there is no danger arising from this experiment to mankind now or in the future. Thousands of scientists around the world have confirmed it is a harmless activity, in fact it will be one of the biggest achievements in the history of man, and solve eternal questions, for which man has spent centuries looking for an answer. Surely such a multitude of wise people would not take lightly the effects of such an experiments, especially if there were ill effects. Dont we trust these poeople to think for mankind, and not take rash decisions justto fulfil some whims? I guess many of us dont, and hence all the circus around this experiment, which has just begun.

I wonder what will happen when something concrete does arise out of this activity. But until then, all you astrologers and gurus, with your ominous predictions about the future of the world (which no one knows except you), just sit back and relax... The time has not come... yet!