Landlord and His Power Game

This is the story of a young boy and his family moving into a new rented unit. How landlord wanted to assert his ownership right and how he tried to  humiliate the family when they resisted.
Nirmala moved into new place, recently.  A local lawyer had build a palatial house. On one side of the house he had created a unit with two rooms, a kitchen and bathroom. Landlord and his family lived in the main house. The unit originally built for guests, was rented out to Nirmala and her family. This house was smaller compared to where they were staying before. But, this house had electricity. Nirmala disliked spending her evenings lit by kerosene lantern and candles. There was a well that was accessible to both landlord and tenant. Nirmala did not mind drawing water from the well. At least she had her freedom from the vagaries of household help. Landlord appeared to be a friendly person. He would address Nirmala as bouma, meaning daughter in law. Nirmala’s husband was called bhaiti, or younger brother.. 
Nirmala’s son Nirmalya felt constricted in the new place. He missed the open space of Rajbari. For him, getting inside the new house was a task in itself. A big collapsible gate with two panes had to be opened to enter the compound. Ordeal did not end there. Once inside, gate had to be closed by joining two panes together. Landlord kept an eye on who was entering the house. He would often shout from his living room, “who is there?” Nirmalya also heard that landlord jethu owned a gun. Once he almost shot a tribal man while aiming at a cobra. Being a lawyer, he managed to get out of the mess. Nirmalya was mortally scared of Jethu  shooting him if he did not close the gate properly. Fortunately for him, he learnt how to get inside the house without opening the gate. Friends taught him how to slip through the space between floral designs of the gate and how to negotiate the wall of the compound.
Soon it became clear that landlord jethu would open the door separating his house from tenant’s apartment and walk in unannounced. May be he wanted to check if his property was being used properly. He would do it at least three times in a day. Initially, it was tolerable. Soon Nirmala began to feel uncomfortable. One day, she told landlord, “dada come when your bhaiti is home”. Landlord replied, “it is my house, I shall come as and when I feel like”. He slammed the connecting door.
Like every evening, that day also Nirmala took her son and baby daughter out for a stroll  in the garden. Soon a group of five kids of the age of Nirmalya, started following  them. Intermittently, they will give out a sound like “bharate” or tenant. Nirmala ignored them. She thought may be they are playing a new game. She turned back. Kids again followed her. This routine continued. Nirmala decided to return to her apartment. On the way he saw the landlord standing at the front door, smiling and chatting with neighbor across the road.
Dada why are these kids harassing me and calling me bharate” asked Nirmala.
These are kids Nirmala, ignore them. They must be playing a game.”
Kids, why are you harassing Nirmala? In our society, we meet people who are not lawyer like me or government officers like your parents. They can be ordinary graduates like Nirmala and her husband. They may not own a house. We do not insult them. We greet them”. Said lawyer jethu with magnanimously with a smiling face.
Nirmalya did not understand what was the deal all about. He could not understand why his friends would not talk to him. Why his mother was on the verge of tears. Many years later, as he gained more understanding of human behavior, he realized what an ugly power play his lawyer jethu had played on his hapless mother. More abominable was his use of children in his game. This  is an important lesson of life Nirmalya learnt early, that powerful always love to play games with less fortunate using the least suspecting as pawns. One must learn to live with the fact that civility is really hard to come by.

Tags: Bhaiti, Bharate, Bouma, Candle, Civility, Guest Room, Jethu, Kerosene Lamp, Landlord, Lawyer, Power Play, Pawn, Tenant

Indo Pak Tie Needs a Rethink

India and Pakistan have a very complex relationship. Eversince Bangladesh was created out of Pakistan, armed forces of Pakistan have vowed to sever a part of India. They have tried in Punjab, they are active in Jammu and Kashmir. They have also tried in fomenting trouble in India by promoting communal discord. India has moved from strength to strength. It is Pakistan that is getting a dose of her own medicine. As someone has said, the day Pakistani army cease to oppose India, their existence will be at stake. 
In this backdrop, it is not surprising that another Indo – Pak dialog has fallen victim to gamesmanship. There is much shock and awe at India cancelling the dialog. I am not sure why Indian media places so much importance on Pakistan? India should have good relation with all her neighbours, including Pakistan. When prime minister Modi invited all leaders of SAARC, it was a goodwill gesture not as a sign of weakness. It appears that some interest groups in Pakistan does not want two countries to have a peaceful relationship.
Recent increase in cross border firing, inviting Hurriyat leaders for talk indicate a well thought out strategy. No self respecting country should allow people wanting to secede from the country to hold talk with a foreign country on home soil. It is improper and poor etiquette on part of Pakistan to even arrange such a dialog with Hurriyat leaders. Hurriyat leaders hold Indian passport, live in India yet they do not want to talk to Indian leadership. This is strange and unacceptable.
Given internal turmoil in Pakistan, it may not be right time to have a dialog. Is there any surety, if Mr. Sharief resigns, next person in power with honour the dialog? I think India has done the right thing calling of dialog. I think it is unrealistic to expect that Pakistani armed forces will allow India Pakistan relationship to grow. They will play any and all cards in their armamentarium to derail any effort at normalcy. India must learn to live with Pakistani hostility. We must strengthen our guard, be friendly but verify what Pakistan has to offer.

At the same time there is a lot of cultural similarity between India and Pakistan. The other day, I was watching a serial produced in Pakistan. Quality of its storyline really struck me. So close to life were characters, I wondered why similar serials are not produced in India. In the process of foolhardiness of few people, if we miss out on genuine people to people interaction, it will be really a sacrilege. I think government should allow people to people contact, while protecting border.

Tags: Armed Force, Bangladesh, Hurriyat Conference, India, Kashmir, Narendra Modi, Pakistan, Punjab, SAARC

Little Boy and His Dream

A big open house expands horizons of a boy. It gives him a feel for the expanse. Boy hopes to become an engine driver so that he can move on from one part of the country to another.
The boy spent his early childhood in Balasore, considered a small town in Orissa state in eastern India. He still remembers the house they lived in. Local people called the building Rajbari or palace. It was a two storied building. Rooms were massive. Each room had big doors and French windows. On a windy day or nigh during monsoon season, sea wind in all their fury would come rushing from one side and exit through the other, making a howling noise.
His family, father, mother and him, occupied the first floor. Rajbari offered a view of surrounding. Open empty ground in front, a big pond behind, a tennis court on the side and hutment of tribals on the other.  It gave a feeling of limitlessness. Those days Balasore was a small town scarcely populated. From the terrace of Rajbari, that actually encircled the floor from all sides, he would watch his father going to office cutting the field diagonally and disappear in the distance. There was a sense of mystery in the routine. An inexplicable. He wished to be a traveller who would walk into the horizon and slowly fade away.
Those days families used to go for evening walk after office. Frankly there was not much to do. Television was a rarity those days. Boy would drag his father to Balasore railway station.
When will train come, baba?”
“Soon. We are going there?”
“which train baba? Where is it coming from?”
“I think Madras mail. Coming from Howrah”
“Why do we call it Madras mail?”
“Because it goes to Madras.”
Madras mail used to make a stop at the Balasore station. Boy was fascinated by engine. Those were the time when steam locomotives were being replaced gradually by a diesel engine. Boy did not like diesel engine. He felt steam loco had a character. Its black body, shrill siren had certain strength, certain majesty associated with it. Whereas diesel engines were more like sophisticated city people. Nevertheless, he and his father became friendly to loco drivers. Once or twice he was taken inside the engine and had a birds eye view of the track ahead.

That was the time, the boy felt if he would become a driver of a locomotive. He would move from station to station without any attachment, stopping by only to drop old and pick up new passengers. As the boy grows up, he understands childhood dreams are broken more often than not. One learns to live and life goes on.

Tags: Balasore, Diesel Engine, Madras Mail, Orissa, Railway Station, Rajbari, Steam Locomotive

Last Laugh

In a family with teenage children often disagreements emerge between parents and children. Specially so if one or both parents have strong opinion and they want to micromanage their children’s life. Most of the time parents have their way because they control the finances. Many a time, however, children have the last laugh.
In our story, mother is a feisty woman from Tripura. She had her lineage in East Bengal.  Traditionally, people from East Bengal are stubborn and used to getting things done their way.  Seldom, they make compromises. Daughter’s academic future is certainly not in top of that list. If she could, mother would grow up for her daughter, study for her and write her exam. Unfortunately, our system and society does ot let that happen. So mother is unhappy, anxious and restless. More so because what will her long list of relatives, friends and family think? Mother will be a laughing stock in her community, if daughter cannot get into IIT or something equally prestigious. With global connectivity bad news spreads like wild fire these days. After a long consideration and deliberation in her own mind, mother decided to strike to a deal with her daughter. She reasoned, she will give a new Tablet computer to her daughter. In return, mother expected daughter would study and get grades in school tests.
Daughter, all of sixteen, had many things in her mind. Studying for grades is somewhat low among her priorities compared to putting a selfie in Facebook or chatting with her friends. Moreover, she was still smarting from the move her mother made yanking her out of the boarding school. When most of her school mates were in there, and she was missing them sorely. Remember daughter had inherited her mother’s X-chromosome and with it all stubbornness.
An all out war broke out on independence day eve. When mother decided to take away the privilege of using Tablet.
you cannot use the Tablet anymore”, declared mother.
Why not? I scored CGPA 10 in board exams, didn’t I? you promised a tablet if get good result
10th board and 12thboard are not the same. You have to study harder. “
I am studying very hard
Your marks does not show
So what I scored less, I shall make up in the board exams”
“Use the Tablet when you study hard and score good”
When arguments do not work, one person breaks down.  Mother was tough this time. She did not relent. So daughter gave back the tablet. Mother forgot, that daughter also had her mothers DNA. So mother when tried to use the tablet, she found password protected.
Dear open the password, please”
“No. You want to use it you open it”
“How can I open it, unless you share your password?”
“I do not use the tablet, I do not open the password
In these unequal fights, mothers usually have an upper hand as long as daughters are not independent and earning. Sometime or other daughter has to come back to mother groveling. Father or aunts are not of much help unless they can withstand eternal damnation. This time also, a truce evolved, mediated by aunt. Tabletwill stay in possession of aunt, when mother is out for work. Daughter will use it only one hour every evening. Password has to be removed. Tablet will be used by everyone, including younger sister.

However, like Versaille treaty or Simla agreement, this treaty is not being honored. Mother has gone back to teaching. Tablet is in permanent control of daughter, till mother comes and reclaims it. Tablet still remains password protected, no matter how many reminders, scolding and cajoling. Who had the last laugh, I wonder!

Tags: CGPA, Chromosome, DNA, East Bengal, Mother, Posseisive, Protective, Relationship, Tablet, Tripura

A Remarkable Speech

Another independence day has gone past us. India turned 68. Like many heads of governments before him, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also delivered his speech from the ramparts of Red Fort. This was Mr. Modi’s first address to the nation after coming to power in Delhi three months before. Enough has been said and discussed about the speech. Many have applauded the oratory of Mr. Modi. Many have praised neutrality and inclusivity of the speech. Many have also criticised the lack of specifics in the speech.

In my mind, prime minister is the head of government. Prime minister should exude vision and show direction where his government should go. Prime minister does not necessarily has to announce grandiose plans for the people from red fort. We have heard such plans at least ten times in last ten years or so. We know where we stand, how much they get translated anyway. 
If we set aside gestures like no bullet proof cover, no umbrella for rain, and claiming himself to be first servant of Inida, I found this speech remarkable on several counts, let us consider three points: 

Speech was made extempore. Speech was made in Hindi only. Speech had clarity, speech made an effort to connect with people of India, not the party and party supremo. 

After 68 years an Indian prime minister had gone up on the Red Fort and declared that India is dirty. He admitted India needs to clean up. He admitted India needs more toilets for girls. Yes we knew all there for a long long time. Yet no one admitted publicly about the issue. No prime minister of India  had ever made an issue of our dirty streets, filthy towns and villages. Let us hope prime minister proclaiming from the ramparts of Red Fort, may have a galvanising effect on ministers, bureaucrats and administrators. 

A third important thing that stuck me was prime ministers emphasis on safety of women. For the first time a prime minister has admitted the scourge of rape. He asked parents to make boys more accountable.  He talked about skewed child sex ratio, he talked about female infanticide. These are issues that affects us Indians deeply. 

We are made laughing stock of the world when we claim India to be superpower. Someone simply has to look at our garbage strewn streets, look at our unsafe streets. For India to be strong, our women, 50% of our population, must be treated with dignity. Admitting a problem is the first step in addressing it. Hopefully, prime minister’s independence day speech will bring in a breath of fresh air in our thought process.

Tags: Clean India, Independence Day, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister. Safety of Women, Speech

Celebrate An Enquiring Mind

Modern society demands stability. A predictable environment is conducive to business development. In a society where business thrives, people become wealthy and prosperous. We have before us examples of USA, Western Europe and Japan. Rest of the world is trying to emulate them. In modern society money is the fuel that drives prosperity. Those who make a lot of money command respect. Since time is equated with money, systems are deviced to prevent waste of time. There is process for everything and little scope for failure. Everyone is expected to follow the process. There is no doubt that perfection and precision are extremely important for smooth functioning of society. At the same time, in a process driven society are we ignoring creativity and originality? Anything novel entails risk, and risk means collapse of the system.

It takes a curious mind to notice and explore mysteries of nature. Apple used to drop from apple tree before Sir Isaac Newton noted the phenomenon and constructed theory of gravitation. It never invoked any question in any mind. Similarly, many such phenomena are happening right infront of us but our process driven mind fails to take note of these. Most of us live in anticipation of what is going to happen in future, ignoring present moment that we actually own. It is important to regenerate innate curiosity of mind to enjoy what is happening around us. One needs to stand apart from the rat race and enjoy miracles that life offers. As someone said, “ Past is History, Future is Mystery, only thing we have is Present. That is why it is a Gift.”

In the article “Losing Art of Getting Surprised” I try to argue the importance of getting out of our routine and enjoy the miracles that life offers us.

Tags: Business, Creativity, Isaac Newton, Novelty, Originality, Predictability, Stability,  Wealth

Job Security, Soon To Be A Relic of the Past

From my childhood I have seen my father, my uncles go to work in the morning. Some walked, some cycled a few took a bus. They returned in the evening. Most of them were employed in government jobs. Jobs used to be routine. Salary those days was low. My father retired with a princely sum of Rs 500 per month. There was not much prospect of moving up in the career ladder. There were not many opportunities. People were also not as ambitious. All they had was job security. They knew that once in a government job, they would retire from there.  Job security had helped my parents generation to plan for education of their kids and plan a future for themselves, however, meagre it may be. Those were sixties and seventies.

Then India became bankrupt in the late eighties. Government was no longer able to pull massive machinery created overtime. There was no revenue to beyond paying salaries. So government decided to open up the economy of India and make it integrate with the rest of the world. India is now open to doing business. Private players, Indian as well as foreign are setting up shops. Government monopoly and government control on jobs is gradually fading away. In pre ecoomic liberalisation era, Indian economy grew by around 2 – 3%. In post liberalisation period Indian economy picked up momentum and grew close to 8% for more than a decade. Such economic growth in a big country with huge population has caught attention of investors, industrialists and multinational corporations. Many are trying to come to India. It should be borne in mind that big business are setting up shops for their cost advantage of doing business here, not necessarily for us. They will try to run a business with as little workforce as possible. Already, corporate lobby is pushing government to enact law that will allow business houses to hire and fire employees as and when business demands. Implicit in this demand that there may not be much job security in future. As someone, I think Naryana Murthy, said “Love Your Job, Not Your Company”. So Indians have to be prepared to move on from one job to another.

In the article, Multinationals Coming, Is India Ready?, I try to present the scenario that opening business may be good but job security will be a thing of the past. Indians have to be ready for such eventuality. India needs investment for growth. At the same time, India must create policies that may help Indians. Rules that work in the West, may not suit us Indians.

Multinationals Coming, Is India Ready? | Blogbigtime:

 Tags: Job Security, Government Job, Private Companies, Multinational Corporations, Indian Economy, Economic Liberalisation