Sunday, November 30, 2014

End the pretense. Speak up for Cleanliness. (AbMontuBolega)

We must stop saying the clichéd statement that our country is diverse, because there is one thing that keeps us united across the nation. It is the accumulated filth. And some of it dates back to the era we read about in stories and religious books.

The first and foremost step towards a cleaner India, is to make peeing in public punishable. We do not go to the living room corner and pee there because bathroom is ten seconds away, right? Similarly our surroundings are where we spend a majority of the time, so keeping it hygienic is equally important. We need more public toilets, and some discipline too. This is not impossible. Diapers are an option for adult babies who don’t understand discipline.

Secondly, we must learn through practice, to control the overwhelming urge to spit. We have a habit of chewing paan, or gum and dispose it wherever it seems convenient. I have also noticed that Indians produce the maximum saliva in the world and have the compulsive tendency to spit anything that can possibly come out of their mouths wherever they like. It could be a movie poster, a new car, or wherever it lands from the top of a building.

Thirdly, we must accumulate waste and dispose them at the nearest garbage bin. For example a simple road trip can generate garbage like tissue papers, disposable plates and glasses, tea bags, plastic wrappers, biscuit covers and the like. When travelling with babies there will be soiled diapers too. It takes little effort to combine these in a single plastic bag and dispose them at the nearest dustbin. Accumulate waste.Dispose at the right place. I swear this is easier than pulling down the window multiple times only to deposit the waste somewhere it should not be.

Fourthly, we all know our country has the most beautiful tourist locations. I am a normal citizen with a reasonable amount of patriotism and none of my ancestors have fought in the freedom struggle, yet I cry inside when I see some of the finest streams and architectural marvels infested with rodents and insects, because people enjoy throwing leftover food and plastic bags in these places . Of all the places I've visited, India has more pride worthy, breathtaking places (no kidding)  but we don’t flaunt it enough because we all seem to be busy abusing it beyond repair. It is high time we keep our tourist spots clean and help the Government generate more revenue from tourism and stop bothering us.

Fifth and an important step towards our goal is a turnaround in terms of attitude. For example in the Middle Eastern countries, a third of the population are Indians. Believe it or not, here one can see Indians who actually know how to keep the city clean! The metro trains and public spaces are spotlessly maintained, they clean up after picnicking at the parks, follow the 'accumulate and dispose' commandment religiously, and even have their cars cleaned on a daily basis. The same people upon landing in India, throw their boarding passes on the roadside first thing after exiting the airport. They stick their gums at the back of the taxi seats. This is the worst kind of NRI hypocrisy. It should be given a name, considered as a sickness and treated through disciplinary action.

Image Courtesy: Click here

It is our responsibility to keep the surroundings clean. Sadly, ‘they’ (whoever was supposed to come and clean up after us) are NOT coming.  The #AbMontuBolega campaign, initiated by Strepsils is a strong reminder to that. We need to stand up, speak and practice cleanliness. Let’s START!

This post was written to support the Strepsils initiative towards a cleaner India, #AbMontuBolega. You can follow the same on Facebook and Twitter. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bucket List Status: One down, 728356 to go.

Image Courtesy: Google Images

I have a bucket list which had been conveniently ignored ever since the birth of my son. The procrastinator in me was hoping to hang on to the same when suddenly in the month of September, realization dawned (no, it wasn’t anything I ate, it just happened). What am I doing? At this pace I may just die at some shopping mall and no one will even know I existed. My bucket list had started glaring back at me. I had to take some initiative. The last time I remember taking some initiative was in the labor room. Let’s not go into that now.

In Oman, the entire journey from getting a learner’s book to the license is like a monkey maze with snakes and ladders in between. Before you get any ideas that this is anything close to interesting, let me remind you that the ladders are lined with fire and the snakes are King Cobras. I got the learner’s book after the eye test and signal test, which is a baby step towards the goal. And baby steps don’t count for adults.

Soon I found a trainer near the place where I stay, and when I went on my first driving session with him, he made me feel so nostalgic, I couldn’t believe my ears. He sounded exactly like my parents when I was 17 and they were pushing me to clear the entrance examination. Sweet! I knew I was in for a rough ride. But there was no looking back.
Image Courtesy: Google Images.

I got the license yesterday, so I want to share with you the invaluable gems of wisdom I happened to get in the process.

1. Do not mess with the driving instructor. If they don’t press their side of the brakes, you are dead.

2. Time is everything, so is timing. Never make the instructor wait for you.

3. The instructor will talk. You will listen. That is how it works.

4. You must be a veteran in the art of how not to convert your thoughts into words.

5. The argument that you have only one pair of eyes will stay in your head. Forever.

6. Traffic signals can’t see you. They don’t get it when you are giving it a deadly stare.

7. No matter how long you've been driving, you just cannot spare a moment to check your hair in the rear view mirror. You may have done your hair and make up in India when cows in slow motion where crossing the road, but that simply does not apply here.

8. If your instructor is checking Facebook or WhatsApp chats on his phone while you drive, it does not mean that he trusts you. Remember, his foot is firm on the brakes.

9. Silence is golden. Always scream internally.

10. Always say ‘Sir’ at the end of every sentence spoken to the instructor. It goes a long way.

11. If he says you touched the white line, you probably did. Always agree with him.

12. When he is mad at you, shut down your mind and keep driving. Do not restart it.

13. Even if your enemy is trying to cross the road, let him. Chill, you will get      better opportunities.

14. Parking between the lines is not as easy as reading between the lines.

15. You are allowed to swell with pride when you get that parking right between the cars. Unfortunately nobody appreciates good parking and you don’t get any brownie points. Life is a bitch.

16. Do not check your eyebrows while waiting at a signal. Traffic signals are evil they sense it and suddenly turn green.

17. ‘Orange’, ‘Amber’ and ‘Yellow’ are the same when it comes to traffic signals. It means DANGER.

18. Do not stop or reduce speed for the pigeons. Their lives are suspense thrillers. Yours is not.

19. When you drive, anything he eats sitting next to you may smell tempting. Do not look. Try not to think about it. Never drool.

20. When he is drinking hot coffee, continue driving normally. We are not authorized to change anybody’s destiny. If anything untoward happens, refer points 3 and 9.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

The shopping trip I almost survived.


For the past week, every time I open a document to write something,  I have been mysteriously disturbed by more important things. Last time I remember, it was hunger. Basically, I did not do justice to my blog in the month of October. I do not call this a writer’s block, as it is applicable only to writers. A more plausible term would be laziness.

Image Courtesy: Google Images
My husband and I work at the same office, and obviously stay in the same house so the only time we take time off each other is while shopping. Aaron, my son, usually chooses to hang out with me because I carry around a mini living room  which contains everything he needs except a TV and sound system – namely water, biscuits, wipes, extra clothes, shoes, sanitizer, napkins, coconut oil, tiny toys (just in case the patience limit is exceeded) the list is never ending. Whereas, whenever he hung out with his Dad, he returned like he came from battle ground. I take him shopping and keep the conversations going…’Aaron did you like this dress?’ Without a pause I involve him in whatever I check out at the mall, because non involvement makes kids extremely bored, frustrated and unwanted. This causes screaming, hunger, loo visits that are not genuine, thirst, "I miss Appaaaa" and other unexplained catastrophes that I am forced to dump the shopping bag and make an exit as fast as possible. And leaving the shopping bag at the shop without billing it is not easy. It contains carefully selected stuff and things I may not want other 'lovely ladies' at the mall to have. Well one thing they don’t tell you about motherhood is about having to let go of shopping bags that will never make it to the billing counter.  

So, yesterday he had an extra class at school. Yes my son who is in nursery had extra class for his upcoming dance concert. In my school days, the first time we ever came across anything that involved waking up early on a weekend was in the tenth grade. Even then it was ridiculous enough. After his ‘extra class’ we went to the mall, because it was November 1st and salary was credited into the account, which was a feeling of fresh rain on a dry, parched land. As usual, my conversation with the little one started, keeping him cheerful and engaged. I also chose a nice hat for him to keep his spirits high. I showered him with compliments too, which made him feel really good. He was hopping around with me, and even offered to carry the shopping bag – well it was more dragging than carrying.

I reached the cosmetics section and was checking out some nail polishes, and I asked Aaron to see if there was something he liked. The section was handled by a sweet lady with very small eyes and heavy makeup. She was like the poster girl for the makeup section and looked like she wore every possible makeup that was available. After a few seconds I realized that Aaron had been silent for a while. I turned around to check on Aaron and he was staring at this lady, while she was trying her best to ignore him. I interrupted him and said  ‘Aaron come here…see this?’ and he came to me saying in his broken English ‘ Amma…look’ and pointing directly at this woman’s face who was standing right behind me, he blurted out  ‘CARTOON’.

I had lost my will to shop. I held Aaron’s hand, and left that section in a hurry frantically searching for any scarf that I can get to cover my face. I did not give a second look at this lady who must have been mortified. If someone said that to my face I’d be really insulted and wouldn't feel any better just because it came from a toddler or a talking parrot. I did not apologize and make it bigger for the same reason. And I fled like there was fire. Later while I waited outside with Aaron I explained that it was bad manners to point at people. He nodded, but I wouldn't expect a three year old to understand social code of conduct. In fact he was checking out his forefinger to see if something was wrong, because I told him not to point :-/ 

That was another weekend of my volatile shopping trip with little Aaron. Like every other day, I ended up buying more stuff for him than for myself. Sigh.