Goodmorning (sniff, sniff). Today was supposed to be another post by another contributor. But since most posts that we have right now are all angry, kick-up-your-tata posts, decided to write a happy one instead. Or well, tried! To keep everyone in the loop – especially those who have contributed – the following are in the pipeline:
1. Post by Citizen Saurabh, Dehradun, India
2. Post by Citizen Mads, Mumbai.
3. Post by Citizen Sree and me
4. Post ON the Adharshila Training Centre, a school for tribals: They mailed us; our first non-government group to want to associate. So will be doing that soon. Am putting up their logo though, EVERYONE, please click and see how you can help out. ALSO, those in the know how of other schools for the poor, experimental schools, whatever, mail back with links and numbers.
5. We got a NASTY one from a senior person in the UK on wordpress. He reacted to being called a ‘shitizen’; oh in fact he was quite rude in saying, “You guys write shit” etc. My response to THAT will come. I emailed the gentleman and apologized for barging into his inbox – I don’t like emailing people I don’t know – so he replied that he was OK with me mailing IF I could not speak out in the open. HA. HA. HA. I do NOT hide, sir. And an open response was not given out of respect, not any kind of shame.
VERY important: ARE we insulting Indians by calling ourselves Shitizens?
NO. But each time a Citizen FORGETS his/her duties, he/she IS a Shitizen. Period.
Now for the post: I was thinking, so fine we know a whole lot of things we want to change about her, but what are the things that make us love her? India…?
I will find one good thing to appreciate about my country. That will be my contribution today. Yours?
1. A full stomach, for every pocket: So the government might be intent on banning street food; but it’s a bit strange. Because what the five-star going calls street food, is also STAPLE food for a LOT of Indians. We had a full plate of aloo-thukpa (thick, rice noodles) in Kalimpong for Rs 2. A bhelpuri, quite filling outside college cost Rs 7, jhaal mudi (spicy, puffed rice) cost Rs 10. Lemon-soda, also called banta costs Rs 5. Now in big restaurants, you get 12 pieces of button mushroom on this fancy wooden platter – it's called Mediterranean cuisine sampling or something -- that is Rs 200-plus. Very tasty; but you’d be hungry the moment you are down with it. Oh, you are also supposed to eat the shrooms with chopsticks; I guess to make it seem that it does not get over a little too quickly. Anyway. India needs everything for everybody; so while we build malls and restaurants in every colony – two in some – do we have to kill ‘street food’? And yes, about Indians NOT falling ill from street food. Dudes, as a race, we have better STOCK than most and are hardier. Therefore. Not because we are fed a spoonful of dirt when we are born.
2. Ability (and allowed) to sleep anywhere: Yes, imagine, if the destitute were to be removed off the parks, the temples, the pavements, where would they go? Of course some would say it would clean up the country; but really? Or would we also become like a whole lot of other nations where you cannot step outside your house after 8 pm because someone will MUG you... and perhaps kill your for Rs 20? I like the freedom in my country much better, thank you. In fact, once upon a time when I didn’t have a house for four months, I slept under my office table; with sleeping bag, a bag of clothes and office bag. And we are talking a BIG media house here; everyone was accommodating. And no, NOT T-O-Eye.
3. Taxi wallahs who react to being called “bhaiya”: And give you respect. I use a lot of cabs and so far, they have been protective. I like that. I was stranded near Connaught Place once and a taxi guy – this silver-haired Sardarji – was passing by. He saw me standing and waiting for an auto and looking a bit scared; he stopped. Offered me a lift and left me near an auto stand; I had told him that I could not afford his taxi. He did not take a penny from me. Happens in other countries?
4. Autowallahs who protect from eve teasers: Yes, I call them my Hero Hira Lal (remember the Naseeruddin Shah movie?) Many a times, when men on bikes or cars start following the auto or coming onto the sides and looking inside as if the girl sitting inside is blind, deaf and mute or perhaps a zoo animal… MANY a times, it has been the auto driver who has reacted. One started driving fast and we had a race with the men on bikes. Another swerved and parked his auto right before the car that was harassing and wanted to give the boys a thrashing. Ha ha. Another decided he wanted to bump the men-on-bikes OFF the road and stopped the auto, let the boys get ahead and then started chasing them. Hahaha, the dudes fled with a mad autodriver and a crazily laughing woman inside. So thank-you Auto wallahs. We have heard rape stories, but the number of auto drivers who have helped me... I owe you.
5. Bus conductors who give you their seat: Oh yes, if they see you are being bumped into by men on all sides, many a times, and not just with me, I have seen Delhi bus conductors offer their seats to women passengers or old people. And we say this is an insensitive city. Shrug.
6. Churan wallahs who can barely eke a living and yet give free churan golis: Churan for those who don’t know, is a mixture of digestive powders – very tasty! – often rolled into little balls or had as is. I have had a thing for churan since childhood. In my nana-naani’s (maternal grand parents) small town, now in Chhattisgarh, this little village called Manendragarh; churan golis were called Gatagat and the churan-bhaiyya would give every kid two golis free. No matter how many we bought, it was always the ones that bhaiyya gave, saying, "aise hi bachche hain" were the ones we enjoyed most. I love the name gatagat. :)
7. Share my seat: I love the way women in buses – strangers and when there are already two of them on a seat – will offer you a little corner to park two per cent of your left ass-cheek. But they do offer.
8. Or how, despite no advertisements, people DO help the blind cross roads. The other day I saw this ear-ringed dude helping an old woman, haha, she looked ZAPPED. She certainly was not expecting a bigda bachcha to help her. I love this generation, we DO surprise people, hai na?
9. How we worship celebrities and make gods out of our actors: It’s really funny. There was a time when ‘movies and theatre’ were more for nautch girls and nautankis. Not for respectable families. Shrug. Does that make us dumb? No. Just shows that to a large extent we are a simple people who like to believe that a Hero who is portraying good on the screen, is REALLY that. Sigh. Such wishful thinking… Almost makes us, erm, cute!
10. How you can STILL shame people: These days I don’t argue with my autowallahs when they ask for more than meter price or don’t want to turn the meter on. I simply stand there with a sorry face and start talking, “Bhaiiya, even I am working hard. Please don’t charge so much. I know you are working hard and have to give rental. But please don’t do this. I don’t want to send bad wishes your way. I would like to help,” and I sound very sad. To my extreme surprise, it WORKS! They get all grumpy and grouchy and HATE it… but mostly, they do turn the meter and take me wherever. :)
11. Sabzi mandis, local haats: I looooove vegetable markets, the freshest of stuff and the vendors have all the time in the world to laugh with you. The other day, when I was refusing to buy kathal (jack fruit) and was joking with the vendors that I didn’t know how to cook it, heh heh, they were ready to share recipes. I love that. Indians mostly love a good laugh.
12. How we call everyone bhaiyya, didi, uncle ji etc. Yes, certain stats are disturbing, but even while growing up, I had bhaiyya-didis in school buses and other places who kept an eye out for me. I was one of the kids who ALWAYS got into trouble with school bullies, bus bullies, playground bullies. Till about 12-years-old, I was frequently beaten up in school. Always boys! NOT teachers, the worst they did was make me stand outside class for, er, talking in class. But yes, the Bullies often tried to make me cry by pinching, punching, pulling my hair. Ha ha, must have been a sight – a four-feet tall, little, round girl, standing and taking beating but REFUSING to cry. But that was only when the bhaiyya-didis were not around. Remember this didi in class 12 – I was in four, 9 years – Pamela or something, who REALLY gave it to this horrible boy who had stretched my right arm and was giving me ‘karate chops’ to see how much I could take. Man! Did that didi or did that didi TAKE his class. Hahaha, she tied him to his bag and made him run around the school playground…and made me and my friends clap. Good fun. So in a land of many abusers, THANK YOU to all bhaiyya-didis I met on the way who stood up for this little girl once. I will too, I promise.
And well, 12 HAPPY points from me should make some of you shut up who insist that I cannot write happy things. Well let’s say if Dumas were writing this, I would be called Pathos. So those who CAN write inspirational, happy things… please come. :) And as always, you don't HAVE to write, you can click pics, make videos, write lyrics, draw something, write a slogan AND most importantly, pass on our link and talk about Shitizens. Let's get together people. And kick butt.