Thursday, December 22, 2005


Jilted in love?
Nagged by your girl friend?
Frustrated by her behavior?
Relationship turned sour?

Don’t worry! Come to this dark and silent by lane of Mumbai for the easy way out! One stop solution for all your relationship worries! Get a big stone and hit her hard as many times as possible before her cries could reach anyone. Hit her hard on head till she bleeds to death.

Please don’t get me wrong readers. This is not what I am suggesting. This is in regards to a recent murder near my institute. Well you people must be thinking, “So what?” Murders are such a common place thing these days. Nobody raises an eyebrow when a person is killed in a brutal act of violence. Bloodshed doesn’t move us anymore. “So why I am writing about a murder?” May be because it happened when I was just on the other side of the wall or may be because the victim and the culprit both were related to our institute in the past or may be just because its all about love going wrong. May be the whole episode tugged my heart strings a little bit…. May be!!!

Sometimes I wonder how love can be so violent. A friend suggested it was not love. It was plain lust…. Still killing her just because she seemed to nag him after years of being in a relationship is too barbarian a thing to do! Was this manifestation of unmanageable stress levels youth go through? The guy must have killed her in a mental fit because after killing her at nine twenty in the night he went to the nearest police station to surrender. He was a shattered soul. That’s what I felt! Naah! I am not trying to justify his actions, not at all. Neither I want to analyze the reasons for his doing so.

I just wonder about the ephemeral nature of relations these days. Somewhere over the years that innocence in love and friendships has evaporated. Perfection is sought in each and every relation. Nobody accepts you as you are with all your flaws. In pursuit of doing away with all these flaws one may go through repeated cycles of stress. Add to it the fast pace of life, highly demanding jobs, academics, ever growing wants… What we get is a youth who can kill someone at 9:20.

Another thought to close this article - which disturbs me a lot - is that when this murder took place, people at my institute were more worried about the reputation of the institute and even media was linking the murder to the institute as if it is accountable for it. Come on give me a break!!! Somebody has died…..

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


26th July, 2005 – Lord Indra (The Rain God) unleashed his fury on the city which is still reeling under the after effects of that hellish night. That’s another matter of fact that the very next day newspapers carried articles proclaiming that Mumbai has bounced back and is again on its feet. That’s great, but I personally feel that this bouncing back phenomenon was restricted to the few areas of Mumbai and to the few sections of the society. Don’t worry friends I am not going to mull over this phenomenon in this article. My area of concern is entirely different. The question I am going to address here is “Why Lord Indra was so angry and cruel that day?”
I chewed over this question for a long time and then all of a sudden I realized and identified the culprit. No, it’s not the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation. Neither the criminal is any disaster management cell nor is Mumbai police. It’s not the government. It’s not the administration. So who is at fault? It’s none other than Mr. R.R. Patil. His one mistake has made the entire city to suffer. Everyone knows that Lord Indra loves the dance performances of Manekas! How can be someone so stupid to estrange the Lord himself by banning all the Manekas of the city? How can he just enforce a blanket ban on the dance bars? I don’t think the man is in his senses. A lots of pujas and yaganas need to be performed to pacify the Rain God, but it doesn’t ensure 100% success. Why not revoke the ban? Why not let these girls earn their livelihood with self respect? Why this stupid self styled champion of the masses is encouraging prostitution?
These dance bars were highlight of the Mumbai night life. It was the mere source of entertainment of the middle class men and earning source for lakhs of people. I know people might argue that these dance bars are haven for crime and criminals. Prostitution, drug peddling and various notorious activities of the omnipresent BHAIS of Mumbhai are linked to these dance bars. But I believe not every dance bar is a Deepa Bar, not every bar girl a Tarannum, not every customer Aditya Panscholi or Muralitharan or a cricket bookie. There are bars where bouncers and owners ensure that girls stick to dancing and there are no nefarious activities. There are bar girls who have been dancing for years now to feed their big families and who have their self respect intact. There are customers and many of them who just go to dance bars for a drink or two and have their share of entertainment because they can’t afford to go to costlier discos (which incidentally were not on the radar of Mr. Patil) where girls are semi clad or semi nude, where everyone is not high on drinks but is flushed with cocaine or whatever they call it, where there is no concept like prostitution but one night stands and sex with mutual consent (of course under the effect of drugs) is a norm. I fail to understand the double standards of Mr. Patil. Or may be he reflects the mindset of our society where dance bars have some infamy attached to it while these discos have a snobbish aspiration value.
Things have changed fast since this ban. There is news of exodus of these out of work bar girls to sexually starved and inhibited cities of Gujarat. In fact prostitution is on rise both in Mumbai and outside. But there are certain other ramifications. One of them is that the sound of “Sheeeeeee Sheeeeeee” which I talked about in my last article will get fiercer and will keep disturbing me. I think after dance bars the massage parlors are next big thing in town. Let Patil think! For us as usual, WAIT AND WATCH! Pity the Lord Indra!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Its now more than 2 months since I landed up in Mumbai. Though I had been to this city many times before either on pleasure trips or for work related to my job, it is for the first time that I am living as any normal Mumbaikar would live in Mumbai enjoying its life as much as facing the asinine struggles it presents. I was deliberating since long on what should I write about. I still don’t know what I am going to write in next paragraphs but one thing is for sure it would have to do something with this city. The city which conjures so many images at the same time. The city which is an amalgamation of good and bad, ugly and beautiful, vigor and lethargy, vitality and mundane. The city which is a great leveller. The city which has seen a utopian dream to transform itself into an Indian SHANGHAI. The city which is as famous for its celebrities as for its BHAIS. So much so that I am tempted to call Mumbai, MUMBHAI!!!

Chhhheee Chhhheee” or “Shhhheeee” and “Puuuuchhhhh” are two sounds which seem ingrained in the ethos of the city. Don’t start wondering what it is all about!!!! It took me some time to figure it out. In the wee hours of that morning, I was feeling really sleepy so I called it a day and thought to go back from my college to catch some sleep. I came out of the institute. At 4 a.m. in the morning roads were seemingly wide and silent. I was waiting for an auto. All of a sudden I heard the sound “Chhhheee Chhhheee”. I turned around and the first thing that came into my mind was AIDS. You people guessed it right. It was a prostitute. A 20 something starved looking girl with deep probing eyes trying to figure out her prospective customer. She was really garishly dressed with heavy make up on. Moments later an auto arrived. Ignoring that girl, I just boarded the auto. The sound of the engine was unable to muffle the sound I heard few minutes earlier. It just kept resonating somewhere inside. That was not the end. The sound came back to me at many more occasions, whether it was a late night stroll on Juhu beach or me coming out of a late night show. Also the sound was not restricted only to prostitutes. The sound was useful for gigolos, gay sex workers, lesbians and surprisingly some children (both boys and girls) offering oral sex services. It sounds sickening but it is the reality of the city camouflaged by neon lights, large well lit hoardings looking down upon you and page 3 parties. So now whenever I hear this sound the first thing that comes to my mind is not AIDS, but suffering, hunger, lack of morality, helplessness, hopelessness, wretchedness……..
Puuuuchhhhh” is the other sound which presents another facet to this insomnia afflicted city. Mumbaikars use this sound to call one another. May be people here don’t have time to remember names or may be all faces are nameless, all having similar expressions and emotions. But this sound is really useful to call for another roti in a dhaba or to stop an auto or to call your friend who is lost in crowd. The owner of shop uses it to keep a check on his aides. Salesmen use it to best effect to track their customers. Everyone and anyone can “Puuuuchhhhh” you any time! Back in Punjab calling someone this way is considered an insult. You reserve such behaviour only for pets. But here nobody minds it. Actually nobody has time here to massage his or her false pride. This sound represents the character of Mumbai to me. Crowded, fast, tolerant, resilient, ever on move, and capability of bouncing back from any disaster….
Mumbai has so many things to write about. So if I get a nice response to this article, I may come out with a sequel to it. Till then SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!Zzzzzzzzz!!!!!

Friday, June 10, 2005


GOD was worried! Since last few years the percentage of Indians coming to heaven was dwindling! GOD wanted to visit India and look for himself that what was going wrong. But he couldn’t leave heaven until someone takes the onus of handling all the heavenly affairs when he is away. He needed a responsible person for that. So an examination was set to select the right candidate. An IAS officer who had died at a young age- HE WAS IN HELL- topped the exam and he was made the caretaker of the HEAVEN. (Now we all know that GOD did commit a mistake because most of the IAS officers who are good at examinations falter at the time of execution of plans) GOD decided to live in India for one month like a normal person without using any of his POWERS!!! But he definitely took loads of money with him which he had got as offerings for his expenses on EARTH.

GOD lands up in PUNJAB first. He is in navy blue denims and a white shirt with his sandals on. He saw the posters of JO BOLE SO NIHAL everywhere. He thought of starting his trip with a religious movie. But all the shows were ‘House Full’. (Thank GOD-GODDESS in this case- that SGPC hadn’t banned the movie yet and neither it was New Delhi where bomb blasts were to occur at the same time, otherwise GOD may have died-at least the body he acquired) GOD couldn’t get the ticket. All of a sudden a guy came up to him and told him that if he wanted a ticket he could get it but he would have to pay Rs. 100 for the Rs 50 ticket. GOD had his apprehensions but for a religious movie GOD PAID UP. GOD was as disappointed by the movie as everyone else. It was CRAP. But his disappointment was more because he had to pay up for that…
After the movie fiasco, GOD realized that if had to stay for a month and travel across India he needed a car. So he went to a car showroom, bought a Sedan in full cash. But he couldn’t move out of Punjab without necessary documents and registration. So he went to the RTO to get his car registered. He was told there that it would take a month to get the papers. But if he offered some bribe to the involved officers, the work would be done in a jiffy. GOD had his apprehensions but for the time constraints, GOD PAID UP. After two days GOD got his documents ready. He had only 28 days left now…

GOD reached Gujarat. We all know it is a DRY state, but GOD didn’t! But what we don’t know is that even GOD likes to drink when he is traveling. In his hotel room he asked the waiter for a drink. That waiter told him that Gujarat is a dry state and he couldn’t get his alcohol here, but he offered him a JUGAAD (QUICK FIX MORONS) for some measly amount. GOD had his apprehensions but for his addiction GOD PAID UP and got his quota of SOMRAS…
Few days later GOD was in Mumbai. He saw that everyone was running each faster than other. At nights people were drinking and dancing at best of the places in town. For a moment GOD was tempted to think that everything was fine here when he saw an old man crying in a dark corner of a park. GOD went up to him and asked him his problem. The man told GOD that his son had died in ’93 bomb blasts and he hadn’t got his compensation yet. GOD offered to help and took him to the Collector’s office. He talked to a BABU there. The babu explained GOD that the compensation had been sanctioned 8 years back but the man didn’t pay the money to the forwarding clerk for his CHAI-PANI (sweets buddies). GOD had his apprehensions but for the pain of that old man GOD PAID UP. The old man got his (un) due compensation. GOD had tears in his eyes and the answer to his worries “what’s going wrong in India?” He decided to cut short his trip and go back to heaven and further make plans to improve the situation…
At the gates of the heaven, the same IAS officer was waiting. He denied entry to the GOD and told him that only if he would be allowed to stay in heaven from then on, he would let THE GOD enter. GOD had his apprehensions but for the good of the entire UNIVERSE, GOD PAID UP. Now only GOD knows what is happening in heaven…

Saturday, May 28, 2005


A very good friend of mine recently told me these four words. LET GO LET GOD. That friend of mine is extra ordinarily humane, angelic and charismatic. But all social beings-HUMANS-don’t possess these qualities. What do these words mean? LET GO- Letting go all the things as per destined or let go the people and memories that are painful or just keep on forgiving people or all of these. LET GOD- Letting destiny take control of your lives or assuming everything happening as God’s sweet will or if I go to further extremes let GOD take blame of all my failures-personal or professional. It’s very tough to say what my friend was trying to say in these four words. But I assume whatever these four words mean they were told to me for my good. I may be sounding too abstract, philosophical or whatever which is not my nature. I have always laughed away things in my life. But these four words made me think!! Am I still holding upon to something that I shouldn’t? Am I still waiting for someone who is not going to return? I am not sure!!! May be this is the first time in my life that I had nothing constructive to do for few months!!! I was too free to wander into an unknown territory. A territory in which my thoughts control me and over power me!! Anyways let me come back to those four words- LET GO LET GOD.

Last year a railway mishap took place in our country and our esteemed railway minister said that he has nothing to do with it. The safety of the passengers lies in the hands of the Lord Vishvkarma. LET GOD! After that so many big and small train accidents have occurred and they will not stop to happen if same sadistic approach continues. But who am I and who are you to care. LET GO!

Every time our contingent sent to Olympics returns empty handed and we have got used to hear the same musings and ramblings every time. “One billion people-not a single gold medal”, “Lack of funds”, “Corruption”, “Sports is being politicized”, “Nepotism”. Nobody will do anything about it for next 4 years. LET GO! And the moment the next Olympics come we all will pray for our ever-burgeoning contingent so that they win at least one medal. LET GOD!

There are two kinds of students, one those who put in their efforts all the year and work hard and others those who don’t. But at the end of the academic year both kinds of students become really religious. Doing daily prayers and going to places of worship is a must for them! Now it’s all right for the former kind but for the latter ones I doubt that GOD will help! Firstly the whole year they LET GO things and now they are following LET GOD. Why would GOD help those who haven’t worked instead of some atheists who have really burnt the midnight oil?

There are so many examples like these, which can highlight our CHALTA HAI attitude. LET GO and umpteen instances that prove that instead of believing in GOD we are over dependent on HIM. LET GOD! Potholes on the roads, power cuts in summers, stinking government offices, obnoxious politicians, unclean surroundings, our own failed performances, our own failed relations, failed governments…for everything and anything we blame GOD and we LET GOD!! And we LET GO the things as they are!! I am also one of the culprits. Somewhere down the line I also have LET GO things. I have also blamed my destiny or my luck or GOD for all my big and small failures, whether it was undesired results in my academics or lack of achievements in my job or plainly losing some one dear to me because of my shortcomings.

So I thank my friend who told me these words. I may not have got the intended meaning right but the message is written on the wall and is very clear. “PULL UP YOUR SOCKS BUDDY. ITS HIGH TIME YOU INTROSPECT AND TRY TO IMPROVE YOURSELF. REMOVE YOUR SHORTCOMINGS AND ITS YOU WHO CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS. DON’T HOLD THE PAST TOO TIGHTLY. LOOK FORWARD TO A BRIGHT FUTURE. BELIEVE IN GOD IF YOU CAN BUT STOP DEPENDING ON HIM.” I don’t know whether it’s easy to follow this message or not. But I will give it a try and if I fail I won’t blame GOD for this. LET me GO now and LET GOD take care of all of us…

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Last month I called up my cousin to get some advice regarding which B-School to join. She herself has completed her MBA this year from a college in Mumbai. My father made it a point to talk to her before I talk to her, as he was adamant on one particular college and was not ready to consider anything else. So he just wanted to influence her advice. Anyways he couldn’t talk to her for long because she was conversing in English and my dad isn’t that comfortable with the Queen’s language. Then my mother talked to her about some mundane stuff like life in Mumbai, food etc. We all know how mothers are! While handing me over the phone mom said, “ She is speaking in English which I am not well versed with.” Now that was surprising because my mother converses in English very well if required. Anyways I started talking to my cousin and found out very soon why mom was feeling so deficient. Following are the few phrases that my cousin used during the conversation more than often…

“Chill Bro!”
“Chillax Dear!”
“Keep Rocking!”
“Cool it Yaar!”
“Rock it!”
“Keep your Fundas clear!”
“Just beat it!” and much more …

Was it Mumbai influence or SMS’ corruption of our language or plain Michael Jackson Effect? “Just beat it!!! Just beat it!!! Beat it!!!” I still haven’t figured it out. What kind of English was that? They never teach this in schools and people like my mother find it difficult to come in terms with this lingo. I think even The Queen herself will find it a hard nut to crack. Now this is just one facet of the conversation I had that day. Something else was also happening at the same time…

Now I am a proud PUNJABI, so I love to talk to people in my mother tongue. I don’t feel embarrassed about it. I find it really awkward to order for a cold coffee at the Local BARISTA in English. Because I know the person at the other side of the counter is a Punjabi himself. Is that what we call colonial hangover? I have nothing against English! But two Punjabis conversing in some other language when they have their own sweet Punjabi makes for a bizarre scene. I find it too strange a FAD. So when I was talking with my cousin and she was speaking in The English, I was replying in Punjabi. My mom was nudging me to speak in English. After the conversation got over I asked my mother about those unwanted nudges with a big why? A capital ‘Y’ of course!

She replied, “What your cousin will be thinking about you! You don’t know how to speak in English! She must be considering you an ignorant country bumpkin!” I retorted, “How can she think so mummy? She knows I have good communication skills! Otherwise how would you explain PI’s I cracked and me cracking all the GD’s? I just don’t like to speak in English with fellow Punjabis if not required! Its just that MOM!” But she was not ready to listen to me with her eyes piercing me. “You country bumpkin” “You DESI” I kept on thinking for a long while after that and tried to find out ways of justifying my actions.

Textbooks in Russia are in Russian. If one has to work in France one needs to learn French. It is true for many other European countries. Yes, English is the language that is important for an integrated global commerce as it is spoken in many countries so it’s a must to learn it. But how does that mean that speaking in one’s own national language or mother tongue makes you an ignorant fool? Why our educated elite thinks that conversing in Hindi or Punjabi is something only lower mortals do? As if conversing in English is a royal act! The God of Small Things is a good novel. But why is it everyone’s favourite? Just because its recognized world wide and may be its in English! How many of us have read the good Punjabi literature? Varis Shah’s HEER, Amrita Pritam’s poetry, Nanak Singh!!! Not many!!! Isn’t it? Well well these were all things I was telling to myself to justify my actions which my mom didn’t find COOL!!

Chillax folks! Don’t think too much into it! Because when once I asked my Ex that why does she like me so much she told me that she likes the way I converse in English. So take the chill pill MOM. Coz it’s BETTER ENGLISH THAN NEVER. Keep rocking guys and gals!!

Sunday, May 08, 2005


Guns, tractors and Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) are three things, which I never thought I would ever get associated in my entire life throughout the 22 years I spent in the comfortable confines of my ever so secure home. But things changed soon. They changed the moment I stepped out of the shadows of my loving parents. The moment I started working. The moment that actually provided me a path on which I would move for next few years. The moment, which would shape the contours of my life. The moment I joined a tractor company. What I am going to write is not at all a cohesive or a continuous story. It’s all about the things I saw and I wondered about while in job. These things happened in the most densely populated state of India. The state, which has given more number of Prime Ministers to our country than any other. The state that still snails along at its own lethargic pace. The state that will always remain an enigma to me because of too many contradictions it has to offer. Yes, I am talking about Uttar Pradesh, our own U.P. UP UP and AWAY was the line used by one of my favourite super heroes. He used it when he needed to fly away in the sky. It was so fascinating to watch him in action. But now the connotation of the very same line has changed for me that fascinates me equally but at the same time provides me with stark experiences of my life. U.P. is UP geographically and away from the INDIA I had seen before living in U.P. Here are few experiences that I went through while in U.P. These are seemingly very hilarious and border almost on insanity but are ironical as well.

Almost every 15 days I used to visit the dealership at Ambedkarnagar erstwhile Akbarpur. The name Ambedkarnagar was given because its the constituency of the ex CM of U.P. MAYAWATI. She had to cater to the needs of backward classes of her constituency. So she cut off Akbarpur block from Faizabad and made it a district and named it Ambedkarnagar, after the name of the father of our constitution B.R.Ambedkar. You people might be wondering what’s wrong with that. Nothing actually, if she had done something more than that. Instead she went on a spree constructing Ambedkar parks and maidans all over the state spending huge amounts of public money that could have been better utilized. A person like me who has a limited understanding of the needs of society also understood that the immediate requirement of Ambedkarnagar was Infrastructure-roads, bridges, hospitals, and hotels. All I could find there in name of development was more of official buildings teeming with all kinds of BABUS. Ha! Wish that lady in Lucknow could have done something more everlasting because as soon as new government came in power Ambedkarnagar lost its district status because of whims of some person called Mulayam Singh. The mundane issues like these plague the U.P. politics and politicians and voters are equally blind. I found it strange. Don’t you?

Once I was moving on a combing operation of an area to increase the enquiry base of one of my dealerships. I was with one of my dealers whom I used to refer as THAKUR JI. We happened to cross a police station or Thana Aehroli as Thakur ji mentioned it. It was written in bold letters in Hindi there “Yahan pair chhuna mana hai”. (Touching feet not allowed here). I wondered what are these words doing on a wall of a police station. I expressed my state of mind to Thakur ji and then the explanation he gave me was the weirdest thing I had heard in recent times. He told me that earlier police officer at the police station was a THAKUR so everybody who visited the police station and even the constables used to touch his feet as a mark of respect. Now a new officer has been posted here who is an AHIR (considered to be of lower caste) so nobody touches his feet. He considered it as his insult and so being proactive he put those instructions on the wall. Weird!!! Isn’t it? I laughed the matter off there and then as I was sitting with a Thakur himself who had a gun with him too. But on giving a deep thought one realizes how well entrenched this caste system is in U.P. The above incident was one of the harmless repercussions of the same. I can’t even describe the inhuman face of this system. Honour killings, cutting off private parts of people, rapes……………….

I was going late in night to Lucknow from a dealership at Haidergarh. On the way our taxi had a halt at a place called Ram Snehi Ghat. My colleague wanted to have a few cigarettes. So we went to a small shack to buy them. The shack owner was selling wallets also at Rs.100 each. I wondered why were they so costly, because they were made of some cheap material. On deep probing I found out that with each wallet there was a forged identity card of some government department or other like Food Corporation of India, Instruments and Measures department etc. Now these forged cards were not good enough to pass high security zones but good enough to pass through some local nakas, octroi posts, getting passes for movie shows and things like that so 100 bucks wasn’t that big an amount to shell out for so many facilities. Now one can find such luxuries in a state like U.P. only. What do you say folks?

Guns had always fascinated men, some say even more than women, and the testimony to that are people of U.P. A person with any kind of social standing and who had enough money to buy a gun would buy it before anything else they may require. These people can move without a car but a gun is a must. I think its better to have Scorpios and Taveras as status symbols. The people in eastern U.P. are perennially scared of something, a death that is not there, a threat, which is non-existent. One of the tractor dealers was having dinner with me when out of the blue he pulled out two guns from his pants. One manufactured by Indian Ordnance Factory that was cheaper one and not that cool and other one was a Japanese made. Sleeker than the other! Man! Was I impressed? Surely! Then he gave a demo on how to use it! “Sanjay Dutt-Vaastav”! What a feeling! Horrible! From then onwards I made it a point to be a little away from the gunman after dark.

Generally discussions of people used to veer around topics like Abu Salem from Aazamgarh and his underworld achievements, political links, university leaders and all those things which were least related to the common man who has so many other problems to think about and still nobody is interested. There are so many other incidents that I saw. One might say this kind of things happen in all states. Yes, they happen but are limited to certain areas of the state or a particular set of people but here in U.P. it was rampant and I hear Bihar is worse and guess what a major chunk of our population lives in these two states.

Many people would say illiteracy is the cause or poverty or high population for all these menaces but the conclusion I reached is that these causes exist in other states too. The real cause is CONNECTIVITY. There are people who haven’t visited cities in their entire lives. There is no exchange of ideas. No accessibility to bigger cities. No roads connecting villages to town. No communication in real sense. It seems that rural areas still exist in pre independence era. The solution I am giving here to all the problems is ROADS and more of ROADS. My solution may sound childish, cheeky and weird but I think the problems are equally weird too………..

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Hey friends don’t confuse this article with any other article on some metropolitan city. Yes the premises of this experience of mine is definitely a metropolitan city-our own capital New Delhi. But I am going to write about my travel in Delhi Metro.

The first time I traveled by METRO was in 1st week of February this year. It was just for the sake of checking it out. I had come from Ludhiana to Delhi for an interview. I had some free time so I thought to myself, “ why not go for a joy ride”. May be the small town guy inside me was too eager. So I took a trip from Pitampura station to Kashmere Gate. I used the escalators to reach the ticket counter. The station and platform were strikingly clean. There were no vendors around shouting at top of their voices. Public sound system and other information systems seemed pretty impressive. I was happy when I reached the ticket counter and saw that there were many free spirits like me who were there just for joy rides. I went up to the counter and a sweet looking and a sweeter sounding girl was there. She said” Ticket to where?” If this had happened in Ludhiana I would have been floored, but as I expected such sweetness here at DELHI METRO, I replied” Kashmere Gate”. She took 11 bucks from me and handed me a counter. I was little surprised that what does this mean and how to use it but I maintained my composure and didn’t let know the girl at counter about my ignorance. I saw an arrow towards a platform. I started moving and the next moment I saw two black flaps staring at me. They won’t let me inside. My mind started working overtime!!!” Should I jump over it or what?” An aunty ahead of me gave the cue. She put the token on target on the display screen and BINGO the flaps opened. I did the same and BINGO I was in too. Well I thought my 11 bucks are already utilized. This was something, which I never expected in INDIA as I had travelled by Mumbai local trains too a year earlier but they were far cry away from MY DELHI METRO. Hey I was swelling with pride. Yes I am an INDIAN. But there was more to come. I went up to the platform and waited for my train to come. It came on time. I wasn’t surprised this time as now I was expecting moon and may be few stars from METRO. The doors of white METRO opened. I moved inside without any trouble. There were some precautions on sound system, route maps inside, digital display, good seats and lots of spaces. Who says Delhi is crowded? There was a VACANT seat but I preferred to stand and looked outside through windowpanes. Train started towards my destination. Delhi outside seemed much greener. I reached my destination, deposited my counter at the exit and came out little happier than I was in morning. The super power in making seemed to have started its journey well. METRO seemed to me the metaphor of the new wave going around India-better life styles, diminishing of rural urban divide, growing economy, changing world order and every kind of metamorphosis we are going through. I wondered was it for real, would India ever reach its destination like I reached mine so effortlessly? I assured myself that it’s going to happen and may be the METRO needed to boost up its speed. Both METROS I mean- the one I travelled in and the other juggernaut called INDIA.

I came back to Ludhiana after finishing my job in Delhi and got busy in my own world. I tried to find out the signs of the metamorphosis I talked about earlier in my hometown and there were many here too which reassured me that Indians are definitely on fast track. Imported Mercs have become norm in Ludhiana. Bikes have replaced scooters big time. Five star hotels, international fast food chains, multiplexes everything is coming up. So is that all what we need? I thought so till I travelled by METRO again almost 2 months later.

It was in middle of April that I happened to be in Delhi again. I had to meet a friend at Netaji Subhash Place. So I thought to me, “Why not take the joy ride again?” So I went to ISBT Metro station with stars in my eyes and of course expecting moon from METRO, may be this time I was expecting some quasars and pulsars. This time I knew the routine. I went up to the ticket counter by escalators again. It seemed today rush was more than last time. I reached ticket counter and bad luck buddies no sweet girl this time. A middle-aged man was staring at me. I was little disappointed. Before he could ask me “Ticket to where?” I asked for the counter to N S Place and handed him over 11 bucks. I forgot to tell the smile on his face was missing as if he has been forcefully placed there. I thought to myself “ maybe its one of his off days”. But then what about the Customer Delight which is the soul of the METRO. Anyways I went up to the platform. The train was to come in 3 minutes. “Hey what were those marks on the platform near the USE ME bins and elsewhere also”, I thought. Some abstract art may be. I went closer and I had that sinking feeling which I can’t express in words. These marks resembled the big red stains, the red PAAN stains, the omnipresent red blots that I had last seen in corridors of all the buildings in Lucknow. I was shocked but picked myself up from despair. “Hey it must be handiwork of few ignorant people”. Train came on time. “Thank God some things hadn’t changed since last time”. I moved inside the White METRO. Two windowpanes had broken as if some body has shot missiles at it. Some garbage was strewn on the floor “Mumbai local trains”, I thought again. And I wished to sit somewhere this time, but there was no VACANT seat so I had to stand this time.

So was my dream shattered? I had an answer to my question, which was resonating between walls of my brain. “So is that all what we need?” The answer was a big big NAAH!!!! We need much more than these METROS and MERCS, these international brands and bikes. More than these tools or metaphors of success we need more sense of ownership of our public property. May be a sense of responsibility will help and some care and a mission for all of us, “Lets not let our pride go down the way of EXTINCT TIGERS”.

Charan Deep Singh