Wednesday, April 26, 2006

In solidarity

The Narmada Solidarity Forum in Bangalore is organising a rally to protest the Government's failure to rehabilitate the several thousand families displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Project.

Time: 3:00 pm
Date: Saturday, April 29th, 2006
Route: from Chiklalbagh (beside Bangalore Bus Station) to Banappa Park followed by a Public Meeting at the Banappa Park at 5:00 pm

For further details contact: The Narmada Solidarity Forum at

The government wants to raise the Sardar Sarovar dam height to 121m despite the fact that the Supreme Court has said that rehabilitation must take place first before the height is raised. In March 2006, three members of the NBA including Medha Patkar went on a fast for 20 days before the government agreed to discuss the issue.

In April 2006, three Union Ministers visited the Narmada valley and reported to the Prime Minister that rehabilitation has NOT taken place. The SupremeCourt however has allowed the government to continue construction of the dam while violating its own guidelines. It will re-examine the states' reports on the rehabilitation on May 1 2006. The lives and lands of thousands of people depend on the Supreme Court's decision.

The State has shown that it operates responsibly only when forced to do so. Please pass the word around.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The long ride home

Have you ever wondered where people go once they get off the bus?
After breathing the same sweaty air as you, watching the same passersby from your shared window. After being rocked and swayed in tandem with you. Their elbow at your waist, a chin resting on your shoulder, their hand grabbing yours for support when nothing more solid is within reach. Where do they go when their feet hit solid ground? Where do they call home?

The young girl who strains her neck to catch the eye of someone lost in the crowd at the back. Stepping on toes and calling out a name at each stop, to make certain he doesn’t leave without her. When she finally pushes her way through, he’s waiting for her at the front entrance, taking her hand in his. Pushing the hair away from her face, smiling because she felt lost without him. Guiding her to the footpath with his arm around her shoulders. Would they make passionate love when they closed the door behind them?

The well-dressed woman who buys strands of jasmine from the lady sitting next to her. Watching her twirl thread deftly around the heavy blossoms, reaching into her lap for loose buds. An aromatic garland of white snaking its way into the stained jute bag at her feet. Would she weave the flowers into her braid when she reached home? Would they be kept in the refrigerator and worn just before stepping out for work the next morning? Was it to garland a photograph of a loved one who had passed on?

The college girl sending frantic text messages throughout the journey. Checking her phone every few seconds to make sure she hadn’t missed a reply. Talking animatedly to a friend over the roars and sputters of the engine with her hand cupping her mouth. Asking for advice on how to let him down easy. Dismissing advice on why she should give him another chance. Will she call him? Will he call her? Will the two of them let their fingers and lives entwine once her stop arrives?

The conductor who raises both arms as he pushes through the throng of passengers. Yelling at the men to get out of the ladies’ seats. Waiting for me to fish for change and slapping his forehead when I shrugged and offered him a hundred-rupee note. Who let me have a ticket even though I paid one rupee less. Who leaned out of the door and shouted at slow cyclists. Who smiled when I gave him the fifty paisa coin I dug out of my bag. Where would he have his dinner? Where would he smoke the day’s last cigarette?

The bespectacled man pressing up against the woman standing in front of him, ignoring her frown. Inching forward every time she tried moving away without losing her own place, her feet firm, her grip making her knuckles white. Looking the other way when she’d turn to face him, suddenly interested in the peeling paper advertisements stuck to the walls above the windows. Putting his hand on top of hers, entertained by the clicking of her tongue and watching deep creases form between her brows. Her sindoor smudged, but clearly visible. Would he go home to a wife and children of his own?

The driver with the blotchy Krishna tattoo on his forearm.
The old lady with a bag of vegetables.
The man with liquor on his breath.
The labourers balancing babies and bandlis in their arms.

Where do they go when I go home?

Friday, April 14, 2006

55 revisited

She ordered iced tea. How many lunches and dinners were had here.
Same city. Same café. Same diluted drink.
A couple of times it was the same table, the same chair even.
Only she was different.

She looked up at the promise that walked in and smiled as he pulled up a chair for himself.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Mad Rush

Board outside Gandhi's ashram, Sevagram, Wardha.


Rambhai shows us how hollow cylinder roof tiles are made.

Ashish has a go.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Young love

So I was dressing in the changing room after my workout when two teenage girls (who couldn't have been older than sixteen) walked in to wait for the shower. They turned to the mirror and proceeded to check themselves out.

Girl 1: (looks at her side profile and tugs at her sports bra) They just aren’t growing fast enough.
Girl 2: (rolls her eyes) They don’t grow everyday, you know.
Girl 1: Not like that, I’m using this new cream. It’s supposed to help. Two to three weeks.
Girl 2: Really? Where’d you get it?
Girl 1: (blushes) Rehan bought it for me.
Girl 2: That’s so sweet of him!
Girl 1: Yeah, he likes me to look good, you know.

Um, yes. Sweet.