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The banyan tree

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ascending thoughts

             Every thought is like dough; you have only to knead it well; you can make anything you like out of it  — Ivan Turgenev

8th February,  was a special day for me, a very pleasant day indeed. After a long time, 3 years to be exact, I am going to meet my friend. The news itself  made me frenzy but  in a good way. For a guy like me, who had been re-planted to a city which is more than 3000 kms  far from  home , is as auspicious  as Deepawali or Holi would be the day when my friend visits me. Long distance, different language , change in tradition & culture, all this had exhausted me. The news of my friend's visit fell on my ears like vibrant  "Qawwali" music. I could feel an upsurge of emotion, blood gushing through my veins. Bottled memories has been opened & the genie is out.

I was about to meet him at the Patel Chawk metro station, which is roughly 15 minutes away from where I reside. As usual, like the good old college days, I was late. After some time  he called me, there is a change of plan. He instruct me to meet him at Race Course metro station, he wants to see Lodhi Garden. Such unexpected changes always delights me, as this was how we always behaved. We've never worked according to a plan, time couldn't constrain us. We felt like time couldn't hold us back . We were beyond it's reach. This was how my life always was. I've never worked unto an ambition. I've never dreamt of becoming anyone. I've always been a floating log, who has no destination other than the river. I never felt the need to be competitive. There is lots of space for all of us. We just need to expand our views that's all. We are like a box of apple in a big room, where you are trying to occupy the same space as the other, when you have plenty of space available outside the box. My cousin brother, he dislike my notion of "floating log", he would rather put it subtly by saying , like a parachuting cotton seed, which is a beauty with its Christmas Papa's beard like white filament floating in the air in slow-motion.

I've never liked Delhi much. She has a talent in concealing the history of common people, instead she always highlights the stories of Kings & Sultans. Delhi's history is more of imperial in nature. From mythological Indraprastha to Mughal empire, her-story remains the same. Countless battle fought in the northern heartland, for her. Countless people killed and tortured. She was the Helen of Troy" of India. Every one wants to have a taste of her. Some stayed, some looted and went on. Fascination for her stayed forever young.

Thus, as our change of plan, we met at the Race Course metro station. We decided to walk to the garden from there. Though I've been here for almost 3 yrs, I've never went Lodhi garden before. So we decided taking the help of Google maps. We took many turns and several road-crossings. At last......... We were there. Lodhi gardens, spread across an area of approx. 90 acres. The place projected an aura , that time has been trapped here for ever. A snapshot of 3 different eras.

Monuments from 2 different dynasties , tombs of Mohammed Shah (Sayyid Dynasty) & Sikander Lodi (Lodi Dynasty) lay bare under the watchful eyes of Archaeological Survey of India. After the Mughals captured Delhi , they did some renovation of the gardens. Garden has many other structures other than tombs. The garden is made around 15th century at the time of Sikander Lodi.  But the condition of Sikander Lodi's tomb invoke pity. It is maintained very badly.  Our attitude towards the preservation of our heritage is  condemnable.

Today the garden is a favourite holiday spot for family and others alike. The garden is well maintained and so beautiful & lively. Chirping birds in the bush, flowering plants and laughing little children would definitely bring forth a smile from the deepest corners of your heart. Romance were blooming all around us. Time seemed moving slow. We enjoyed the break from the tiresome and hectic city life.

We walked through the garden, from the tomb of shah to the tomb of Lodi, which is at the other end of garden, enjoying the view. Lots of tourists - nationals and foreigners were found enjoying passing time with their loved ones and pets. Pets seemed to be enjoying by running around the garden. There is happiness everywhere, everything seems perfect, an Utopian land.

My day dream was cut short by a call from behind, "Bhaiya,  O bhaiya" . We turned back, two young girls were quickly approaching us. It was obvious from their attire that they belonged to village, might have moved to city in search of job. They were trying to sell us their hand-made wrist bands. They were hawkers.  They belonged to  20 percent of city's population.  They begged us to by their wrist bands.  They convinced us that they would write our names on the band. At last we gave in. Two rupees each for one letter, they said, we agreed. We wrote down our name and gave it to them. They started making the band. Actually they already have bands made with them, they just stick the letters of our name in the band. It was obvious that they can recognize the letters, since they asked us which letter was that we've written, whenever they couldn't make out  our writing. It took hardly 15 minutes for them to finish. We both gave them 20 rupees each. 10 for the band and 10 for the five letters  stitched up on the wrist-band. When we were about to go they stopped us and demanded 20 more for each bands. Now they wanted 20 for each band and 10 more for the stitching up of letters. We felt cheated, "u should've said earlier" my friend shot back. But it seemed like they were not letting it go just like that. In the end we gave up and walked out without claiming the wrist band. We were so angry.  We might have walked a few steps, then they again ran to us, saying "saab ye leke jaiyiye, humhe ye kisi kaam ke hai nahi"(take it with u, it is of no use to us now). They gave to us and ran back before we could react.

First I was angry about their  behaviour, their greed, but when I gave it a second thought , my anger melted like ice. At first they were greedy then they gave the band back. It was contradictory, the second act shows hint of self regard.
Those were young girls  fall under the age group of 20-30 yrs. There were lot many like this in the capital city, especially young girls who are into this mobile street vending. Most of them are unmarried, many are married yet some are married but abandoned. All these people come under unorganised sector. Government doesn't take care of them. They have no unions. Important part is that more than 80% is illiterate. Metro cities have high rate of illiteracy compared to other places, as most of them are immigrants from other parts of the country for some kind of job or other. And among these people 90% of them belongs to backward classes. They have to put up with the bullying of Municipal & Police officials on a daily basis. Most of these street vendors doesn't even have necessary capital to buy their selling goods. Their condition is very bad, in fact worse. Moreover buyers have a tendency to bargain with them,  hence they would have to set the selling-price at a high margin. They have to survive against these odds. These thoughts hit me like hammer, reality was too blunt. I kind of felt shame for having a prejudiced opinion. I realised, my rights and wrongs were mine alone. I was just trying to see through my eyes only. Others' were lost in the glare of my own prejudice. Their surroundings, social conditions directly influence the making of their character and their outlook. Their world is hostile. These people were left behind in the making of our much hyped Indian economy. Realisation made me humble. In India suffering and life is indistinguishable. We are so used to "sufferings"  around us that it has failed to create an impression on us, we are kind of immune to it. we are unable to feel for them.