Delhi’s smog

What’s happening to Delhi? It shreds your heart when you read that your birthplace is the most polluted city in the world, 16 times more polluted than the next worst, Lahore. And come November, this disaster of Smog engulfing the city starts each year and continues to hold the city in its vice like grip till February.

Delhi of yore was not like that. In fact, it had beautiful autumn and once winters used to set in, we would experience fresh mist and fog that was very different from smog. Farmers used to burn their waste crops even then! And mind you, Delhi was one of the earliest adopter of CNG and had made it mandatory for public buses to run on CNG. It also boasts of one of the most elaborate network of metro that has eased the strain on road transport. Notwithstanding population explosion, it continues to be more green than many other metropolitan cities. While we cannot fight with the nature, I am sure if IIT or some other accredited agency does a root cause analysis, something can be done.

I read somewhere that China had recently addressed this issue of smog and pollution through technology ( drones spraying water etc). This shows that if there is will there’s way. Delhi definitely deserves much better than being christened the most polluted city in the world. If we cannot be Best, we should avoid being worst at least. Wake up Government, scientists, accredited agencies and intelligentsia of this country and do something about this issue that is bringing shame to us.

Who’s worried ?

It’s been more than 10 days that results for Maharashtra assembly elections have been declared but BJP-Shiv Sena combine that fought elections together are unable to arrive at a consensus. It’s true that BJP performed below expectations, but so did SS and the fact is that whosoever has voted for the combine has not voted for any particular candidate or party, but this mandate has been primarily for Devendra Fadnavis, who provided a very efficient and clean administration during the past 5 years. However, this strife between two long time associates is giving the old horse Sharad Pawar to sense an opportunity to reclaim his supremacy in Maharashtra politics. Of course, the old war horse is too important and shrewd to be out of reckoning at any point of time. In fact, in spite of his years of relative hibernation, he has never really been out of news at national level at any point of time and we keep on hearing his name coming up now and then for various positions and roles.

While I am no political commentator and have no idea of the internal dynamics between the two old time allies that’s leading to the current strife, no one should forget that if the grand old party can face irrelevance after helming the nation for decades, BJP and SS are also not insulated from this. India is now quite a matured democracy and knows how to vote. At times, my feeling is that innocent public is quite intelligent and intelligent politicians seem sadly out of touch with reality unable to read public mood and preference. The current stalemate is not helping anyone. Various combinations being tried sans Fadnavis are not in compliance with the public wish.

Excessive rains have caused damage to 40% of crops in Maharashtra, after PMC Bank there’s the news of Citizen Cooperative Bank also facing problems, after the failure of Goodwin Jewellers, another Ghatkopar jeweller is absconding, Mumbai airport is about to undergo repairs for next 4 months sending flight schedules haywire and I am not talking about the national issues here including the state of economy and Kashmir. But the question is who’s worried about all this? Everyone seems to be power hungry with no appetite for grave issues!

नई शुरूआत

Or new beginning is what the title of this blog means. It’s actually not a blog, but a poem. It’s unique because it’s after long that I have written something in Hindi ( or Hindustani as I prefer to call it, being interspersed with Urdu words), but like all my blogs, the language is immaterial as this too represents deeply entrenched feeling in my heart.

We have had elections and decisive mandate, Government took decisive action on certain matters of National importance, we seem to be reaching the end of Ramjanmabhoomi- Babri Masjid issue, Economy is in the throes of worldwide recession, but expected to pick up, rains have been widespread and bountiful and I can go on and on. Yet there’s that feeling of uncertainty of an impending crisis waiting ; a discomfort of all being not well ; a lurking fear of an impending disaster or calamity ! Fortunately, we are a strong self dependent nation and this is just an apprehension. It’s eminently beatable as the solution doesn’t lie elsewhere, but in our own attitude towards life and our fellow citizens. The need is to build bridge of mutual trust and faith.

The poem reads:

नई शुरूआत

सब कुछ ठीक ठाक है,

पर लगता है कुछ ठीक नहीं;

सब कुछ वैसे ही चल रहा है,

पर दिलों में इक टीस है कही ।

सब बिक रहा है,

लोग सब ख़रीद रहे हैं;

बारिशें भी खूब हुईं,

दुख लगते हैं कट से रहे हैं!

पहले सी ही दीवाली, होली और ईद लगती है,

हमेशा की तरह ख़ुशी भी वैसी ही जगती है;

फिर भी कुछ तो कमी सी लगती है,

सभी वैसी हैं, पर वैसी नहीं लगती है!

ज़रूरत है दिलों को साफ़ करने की,

पुरानी बातें भूलकर माफ़ करने की;

दिलों में फिर से मुहब्बत भरकर,

एक नई शुरूआत करने की!!!

This is a piece from my heart, being a well wisher of our great country, its heritage and its ethos.

Customer Care

In these days of extreme activism, especially on social media, any company worth its salt can dare ignore customer feedback or delay responding to an aggrieved customer. The chances of his or her painting the social media red and inviting further comments of people with similar experiences thereby leading to an avalanche of negative comments are extremely high which, in turn, can seriously taint the company’s image.

I myself being an active user of social media am quick to share my unpleasant experiences ( and I am quite balanced at that – my appreciation of good experiences outnumber my denouncement of bad experiences). While in some cases, the response is quick and comprehensive ( in fact on a few occasions my appreciation was endorsed by several others – Air India, Hindustan Times, Vistara), there are others who just choose to sit tight on the issue, testing the patience of the complainant ( or issue raiser) and waiting for the issue to die its natural death. In this category, Food Hall, an international chain specialising in exotic and organic food items that has made its Indian debut not to long ago, deserves a special mention. They promptly reacted to my tweet, advising me send e mail at the ID, acknowledged my e mail, assured a quick revert and then chose to let the issue die is natural demise.

Quite strange on the part of an International chain, I must admit, because most of the MNCs, apart from the product and technology are also known for bringing their best customer practices at the geographies that they opt to cover!

After Diwali

I think this feeling may not be unique to Diwali but creeps in after each happy event. Whether it’s the end of vacation or family time or any happy occasion, there’s this feeling of despondency tinged with sadness that seems to sink in post Diwali. Roads are relatively empty, shops seem to be relaxing after days of brisk business during the run up to Diwali and fatigue sets in after days of hectic activity in the pre Diwali period. Thanks God , this year the offices are closed on the next day as going to office can be one of the most agonising thing post the Diwali hangover.

Earlier, in our childhood, celebrations would continue beyond Diwali with bursting of leftover crackers and consumption of Diwali delicacies. Schools would remain closed till Bhai Duj and festivities did get stretched to several days beyond Diwali. However, now once Diwali is gone, it’s back to waiting for Diwali next year!

As I put it in simple verse:

After days of gloom and period of despair,

The wait was there for an event to undo and undertake repair;

Comes Diwali with a bang and all woes seem to be things of the past,

Oh God! After this momentary joy, heart dreads going into the old cast!!!

Let economy be revived, peace return to Kashmir and a feeling of well being prevail all over the World, which will be a true celebration of this festival of peace, love and brotherhood.

Festival of Lights

What makes Diwali so special? For once, it brings back lots of memories of yore! Crackers, sweets, bonhomie and celebration lasting over days! Secondly, notwithstanding the degree of gloominess, the most sagging of spirits get uplifted during Diwali. Even in the worst of recessionary periods like the current financial year, somehow Diwali brings hope and happiness. All the disruptions of the recent past seem to have been gotten over such is the the impact of Diwali. To put it in poetry:

When the darkness paves way for light,

And depravation and destitution are overwhelmed by hope;

There are no short cuts and there are no quick fixes,

Festival of Lights is no ordinary occasion but really an effective dope!!!

Happy and prosperous Diwali to all those who matter to me!!!

Between two Diwalis

One of the rituals that we have followed since my memory goes back to is doing Diwali Pujan. My mother used to (she still does in Delhi, where she stays) do havan followed by saying a prayer that generally covered the welfare of all the nears and dears. We have continued with the ritual though I will openly confess that recitation of mantras from Vedas is quite difficult as some of the words are tongue twisters and pronouncing these words correctly is quite a challenge. After that, I try to have a heart to heart chat with God, seeking welfare of our closed ones!

As I prepare to engage in these rituals again on Diwali like always, a thought came to my mind to do stock taking of the events concerning me personally as also in general at large between the last and this Diwali and these can be summed up as under:

(1) My daughter sprang a surprise by adding one more member to her family within two years of her first child;

(2) There was a change of guard at the company I work for and the work has now become several times more challenging;

(3) My nephew was blessed with a daughter and this meant that there was addition of two new members – a boy born to my daughter and a girl born to my nephew;

(4) Modi came back to power after a thumping victory and immediately took some harsh decisions like abrogation of articles 370 and 35, surcharge on personal income tax, expectation of massive dividend from RBI. Towards the end of the year, however, some of the developments indicated that he may not be eternally invincible;

(5) The whole of the year saw our relationship with Pakistan hitting a new nadir. Pakistan’s intent to use nuke makes this part of the world extremely volatile;

(6) India disappointed by not winning the World Cup cricket, but the team continued its dominance in all forms of cricket. Apart from cricket, Dutee Chand, Hima Das, Mary Kom, PV Sindhu also became new national icons.

(7) Bollywood continued its good run, though it seemed that era of Khans was nearing its end. Amitabh dominated small screen with ads and KBC.

(8) The country stared at the prospects of worst ever draught with drying reservoirs, but the God blessed with bountiful rains;

(8) My brother-in-law was detected with a terminal stage cancer and though he lives on, his reasonably long life will be a miracle.

Diwali 2019 has come. Like always, I shall again pray for my family, nears and dears, friends, city, organisation, country, environment, rains and world peace. But these are only proposals that will disposed as per God’s willingness!