Stop The Blame Game; Change Your Behavior

Day before yesterday, twenty-three people were crushed to death in Mumbai. Many others are in critical condition. It was not a terrorist attack, no bomb exploded, neither was it an earthquake, or a deluge, or any other natural calamities, that caused the deaths and injuries. It was the reckless behaviour of my fellow insane commuters that did it. Death due to stampede is common in my overwhelmingly populated country, but such occurrences are mostly witnessed when there is a mass movement of religious devotees journeying to one of the many sacred sites in India; such incidences are not so common in a railway station where people regularly move to and fro.

The moment I got the unfortunate news of the stampede at Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road Station and when I saw the pictures of men and women lying dead, I was extremely pained and I was furious. I poured my heart out by writing an expletive laden article. But I decided not to publish the article. I wanted to first calm down, and it took me two days to do so. Hence, I am now writing this article without the expletives. I am still sad and still angry at the way innocent people lost their lives for no fault of theirs.

Dear people of Mumbai, do not just move around blaming the government for what had happened day before yesterday. None but you, yes, you, my fellow commuters, are to blame for the loss of so many valuable lives. I have been in Mumbai long enough to know how you all behave. Your lack of consideration for others have cost people their lives. You are always in a hurry to reach your destination. The moment a train comes to a station you, who wait for the train in the railway station, spring in to the train even before the train halts, even before the passengers who are already in the train have a chance to come out of it (you want space but you don’t allow the others to come out and give you space, and you get in and create more problem and confusion). And, as you run forcing your way in the train, you don’t care whether you push people (women, elderly or little children) around, stamp on their feet, elbow them and injure them. Not a single day passes without someone getting injured, if not killed. Go to Kurla Station or Dadar Station and observe the commuters, you would see everyday someone or the other is fracturing his/her bones, getting a cut somewhere, or is falling down from the train. All this can be avoided only if you are considerate and disciplined.

Yes, the massive population in Mumbai (which is as much as the entire population of the whole of Australia, and which is rapidly rising day after day) is no doubt one of the factors that is creating the main problem. The local trains, being the lifeline of Mumbai, are always packed beyond their capacity. Raj Thackeray is right when he says that problems (like the stampede that happened day before yesterday) would continue to happen as long as the migrants keep coming to Mumbai. But what solution is he providing? Well, he would no doubt want no more migrants in Mumbai and he would also ask people to leave Mumbai. His concern is right, his approach in dealing with the concern is wrong. Migration is a reality and migration will always happen. Whether he likes it or not, he will have to live with it. The development of infrastructure in proportion to the size of the population is the answer to the problem, but development does not happen overnight, particularly in a country which is developing and which happens to be the second most populated country (where most people were corrupted for too long) in the world, and is a democracy.

No doubt, there was a need to have more Foot Over Bridges at Elphinstone Road Station which could have allowed people scatter to other places instead of everyone standing on the single bridge that connects Elphinstone Road Station to Parel. Day before yesterday, it was raining and people wanted to save themselves from the falling rain. It was not someone firing bullet or cannon balls. Rain would not have killed anyone. It had rained earlier also; exactly a month back one month’s rain had fallen in a day but no such stampede happened then. The people could see that the bridge was already full of people yet more and more people gathered in the bridge. No one wanted to let the other person go first, all they cared was for themselves. People are not stones to not feel any pain. The pain of one, which to the inconsiderate other meant nothing, resulted in 23 deaths so far.

Mumbai provides us opportunities to be someone, to earn our livings, to be better than we were. But in the pursuit of material well-being all our civic sense has gone for a toss. All we care about now is how to get more and more for yourselves even as we have thrown our ethical values out the window. We have become slaves to our daily chores, and from human beings we have now become machines, and like machine we have no feelings. Our commercial mindset has killed all the good that was within you, that all men is born with. Our interest comes first (What’s in it for me, eh?) and we have total disregard for the others. We don’t even realize when we are uncivil, which has become the way of life for many of us.

We will be happy if we have better infrastructure in place, but until then we have to make do with what we have. Meanwhile, we must be disciplined (even after being well-educated, peoples’ rowdiness, when they try to board a local train in Mumbai, astonishes me) to avoid casualties.

Copyright © 2017 RAMU DAS

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Rounding Up

I had a shared auto-rickshaw ride from point A to point B. The driver said the fare was seven rupees. I handed him a 10 rupee note and waited to be given three rupees back. He said he did not have change.

“So, what now?” I asked.

“No change,” he repeated, then added: “take three rupees back some other time.”

That ‘some other time’ is another way of saying ‘forget the three rupees.”

I had a coin of five rupees. I told the driver to take the five rupee coin and take two rupees later, but he refused this proposition. He said he did not know me; I said I did not know him either. He wanted to take three rupees more but he was not willing to take two rupees less. There was no point in arguing with the driver as he was absolutely determined to take three rupees more (and not two rupees less). Just for three rupees I was not ready to get embroiled in a fracas which would then, as it happens most of the times, turn into a fistfight.

Quite similarly, Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd (MAHADISCOM) shows how much of a dictator it can be when it comes to rounding up or rounding down of prices.

My final electricity bill amount for the last month came to Rs. 346.37. MAHADISCOM rounded up the amount to Rs. 350.00. Though I paid the amount online, I still had to pay Rs. 350. I have heard of an amount being rounded up or rounded down only when the transaction happens in cash. I believe rounding up or down happens in cash transaction because of the problem people face in giving out the changes of smaller denomination. But in an electronic transaction no such problem occurs. Every time I do an electronic transaction, I pay the exact amount.

I would have still been okay had MAHADISCOM rounded up from Rs. 346.37 to Rs. 347 (though I know that it should actually be made to Rs. 346, since 37 paise is lower than 50 paise). The extra amount which MAHADISCOM charged me (without deserving) is Rs. 3.63.

There are more than 20 million people living in Mumbai (and there are more than 110 million people in Maharashtra, but let’s just consider the case of Mumbai for the present), if MAHADISCOM uses the same tactics with everyone (I know that MAHADISCOM is not the only electricity supplier in Maharashtra, so even if it has about 10 million customers), as it has used in my case, the amount (which can be called illegal amount since the money is taken away without people’s consent) runs to lakhs (if not crores) of rupees!

I am aware that MAHADISCOM rounds down the amount in some cases. My contention here, however, is to do away with rounding up or rounding down of an amount as long as the transaction happens online.

Copyright © 2017 RAMU DAS

Sports In India

The only sport that most Indians keenly follow and watch is Cricket. This sport has become so popular that it overshadows other sports, often making the players of other sports discouraged, sad and financially weak.

While I have nothing against Cricket (and I do like watching Cricket from time to time) nor do I have any complaints with regard to the huge sum cricketers earn and the lavish lifestyle many of them live, but I don’t like the way Cricket is given so much attention, portrayed as if it is the only sport that matters, and people go so crazy about it – and proudly parrot and seem to believe what the promoters of Cricket say: Cricket is not just a sport but it’s a religion in India – while other sports (and the players) are totally disregarded. Cricket is a fine game to watch but there are also other games as fine as (if not finer than) Cricket. It will do us good if we can remember that Cricket is neither our national sport nor a game that had its origin in India. There is so much more than Cricket in India, which can be realised only if people start giving a little more attention to other sports also, only if the people in the media talked of other sports as enthusiastically as they do of Cricket.

It’s not Cricket’s fault that it is popular, and there is no harm in a sport being popular, but the public is at fault for their bias way of treating other sports, making the other sportsperson feel irrelevant.

The situation for other sports, however, is not as awful and lamentable today as it was a few years back. Other sports are slowly gaining popularity; other sportsperson now feel they are also important, however there is still a long way to go, there is so much more that needs to be done, and we the people of India must show our support for other sports (just as we do for Cricket) and for our players. Players need a cheering audience to boost their morale (not only during big events but also during the smaller ones), and cheering must be done not only for the known players but also for the ones who are not so popular but are trying their best to better themselves and excel in their field). Ministers so proudly offer fancy cars and some money to a few sportsperson only when they are able to bring some recognition to India. Players need finance and proper grooming to feel secure and confident, and that should be done from the beginning, from scratch (not just when they put India in the limelight). Players come not just from the known parts of the country but from remote areas, too, and if one were to gauge the talent of those unfamiliar sportsperson she would be surprised to find many hidden treasures.

Watch Cricket, people, no problem, but do pay some attention to others sports and cheer for all our sportsperson.

Copyright © 2017 RAMU DAS

The Importance of Money

Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness (and that money is not everything) should have added, be that as it may, money can surely reduce sadness, money can help make friends, money can keep all kinds of relationships strong, can help buy you those delicious food that you desire, will make people look upon you with reverence, make you a role model (no matter you deserve to be one or not), can give you confidence, can make you feel secure, and money can do so much more. Now, then, would you say money is not important?

It is strange how people give lame excuses when they can’t directly deny you the moment you want to borrow some money. But the strangest of all is when your very near and dear ones (the ones you thought you could depend on), for whom you sacrifice everything, to whom you give your all, seem to maintain a distance from you when you are in need. On the one hand human kind is the embodiment of hope, love and care, but on the other hand we are selfish, ruthless, vainglorious.

To save embarrassments in life, to prevent depression from ruling your life (thereby ruining your life), you should – no, not just should, but you must – make yourself so strong, so capable that you need not ever depend on any one. But what happens when you have too much money? Should you cling on to your money for ever? It is indeed very difficult to part with one’s hard earned money. Not everyone would understand, but the earner of money knows that very well.

The main question that should concern you, however, is when someone’s whole world is crumbling down and they can’t do anything about it, will it be worthy of you to be like those heartless materialist who turn away from helping others? Would you also let others feel what you once felt the moment someone said no to you when you were in need? From your experience you know how much it breaks your heart to find none helping you, therefore, can the knowledge of that prompt you to help the needy as much as you can? You know you have two square meals a day, but there are people who can’t afford a single meal a day; they eat something light once in two days or maybe three days. You might ask ‘Why don’t they work?’ Well, you know, if a skilled person is out of job most of the times, how is an uneducated, unskilled (some disabled) person supposed to get a job.

So, here comes your money. Money can help you help others. Money can open new avenues and empower people to do their best, to see the brighter side of life. Money is, therefore, important. And whoever say money can’t give you happiness, that money is not important, ask them very gently to just go to hell!

Copyright © 2016 RAMU DAS

Making Sense by Rambling

Does it ever happen to you that while writing one particular thing you start writing something that is altogether different from what you intended it to be, and that, surprisingly, makes all the more sense and seems interesting?

When I begin writing, I have one idea, but this one idea becomes useless compared to what, in the process of writing, I discover. Nevertheless the first idea is crucial for anything of value to emerge, for that is what urges us to write in the first place. If I don’t elaborate on the first idea, the idea stays in my mind for a few minutes and then it vanishes and I don’t get going with my writing.

When I have an empty page in front of me and a few words (the original ones), I start elaborating on the first idea, twisting and turning, writing and rewriting every words, sentences and paragraphs, and then, in this meaningless voyage that I undertake, finally I find meaning. The first idea loses its importance and ultimately I write something that even I could not think I could.

When a few people say “Wow, that’s a great stuff you have written” I smile and think, “Had I known I could write that, I would have written that a long time ago.”

Therefore, I suppose I won’t be wrong to believe that it is not in our thinking whether we can do a particular thing, but it is in our doing that we know what we are capable of.

Copyright © 2016 RAMU DAS

I Won’t Back Down

When I have the blues, I often turn to songs or to Google (where I search and read poems or quotes). But not all songs/poems/quotes can help in dispelling the gloom. When you are sad and listen to sad songs, you will only be sadder. You would be positively pessimistic if, while trying to be positively positive, you come across a quote likes this: “Life will always go on as it has always gone one – that is, badly.” Just as not all situations are alike, so for different situations I turn to different songs/poems/quotes which reinstate my positivity, that makes me believe life is worth living (and to sing “and I think to myself what a wonderful world”).

Moliere said “It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I’m right” and I am of the same opinion now more than ever, such is my situation. During times like this the poem Invictus (an overused poem for such situations, I should say) comes to my mind. Though I often forgot most of the lines of the poem but I remember this: “My head is bloody, but unbowed”. This line does me good, bolsters my morale and gives me immense satisfaction.

From time to time I listen to a few songs on my cell phone and I feel good when I come across a song like I Won’t Back Down. I have heard the song many times and had always thought that it was Johnny Cash’s. But, only today, while I put the title of the song on Google so as to confirm the lyrics of the song (yes, for almost everything I consult Google, thanks Larry and Sergey) I came to know that this song actually belongs to someone called Tom Petty. I enjoy listening to this song, and I thought you might also do. So I have I Won’t Back Down for you!

 

Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down
You could stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down

Gonna stand my ground, won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down

Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down

Well I know what’s right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground and I won’t back down

Hey baby there ain’t no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down
No, I won’t back down.

 

Thank you, 2015!

You have been hard on me, you have been soft on me, you were sometimes neutral, you discouraged me, you encouraged me, you were kind, you were cruel, you gave me things I asked for, you gave me that which I never wanted – you, in short, were a year of contradictions, but most of all, you have made me mature, you have sharpened my senses; you have made me a stronger, better… for all this and more I will ever be grateful to you.

P.S.: I am happy!