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The front of the line at the bank

The front of the line at the bank

Having been a city dweller all my life I, possibly like a lot of other city dwellers, share a love and hate relationship with it. But, I guess, it would be safe to say that I am really glad to be living in Delhi at this point in (troubled) time in the history of our country.

Even though internet connectivity in our cities may not be the best, it still works out for me to be able to use our debit/credit cards or internet banking to buy most things I need without having to stand in front of the banks or ATM machines to withdraw cash. I am also, fortunately or not, really bad at keeping a tab at my regular expenses so I don’t compare my expenditure, now that I am buying things online versus buying things from the local neighbourhood shops or the roadside vendors.

Personally for me, I have almost forgotten how our currency notes look like, now that I have had nearly no cash for the past month. I really believed for some time that the phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ didn’t apply to me any more.

But I’m happiest for not having to wriggle through my pockets and to worry about how I would manage to give the auto guy the change or wondering if the delivery guy would have any change because I forgot to tell while ordering, that I only have a 1000 rupees note with me. So this is great! For the longest time I wished I could just swipe my card and pay for things instead of having to go to an ATM or to figure out how to find change for bigger currency notes. But I still love all the street food and It seems quite unlikely that they will keep a debit/credit swipe machine or use PayTM kind of services to transact even in the distant future.

What should I do now that I have to pay my house help and the cook their monthly salary? One doesn’t have a bank account and the other wants cash. Even if I could give them their salaries electronically they would need cash to then go and buy their vegetables and things with cash from stores that sell things that are cheaper than the ones available at supermarkets that could take payments online. Both these ladies don’t have smartphones and surely they will find it difficult understanding the sometimes complicated payment and returns processes because they are not literate.

The dance!

The dance!

So thus, began ‘the dance of the cashless‘!
  • Two and half hour wait in a line outside my bank without any success
  • Almost 19 km covered on the cycle trying to find a working ATM
  • Approximately 44 ATMs visited
I’m still a novice at this dance form. There are people who are masters in this art of lining up and standing for an entire day, everyday. But this is one art form I’m more than willing to be a total crap in and so wish that this dance gets over really soon.
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IMG_1777Oh Calcutta, you are so old!
So old, your body is crumbling
Looks like you would just fall
You have been standing for so long
You must be tired
You must be shaking

But they won’t let you sit down
They won’t let you take a breath
The moment you start to crumble
They would replace that part of you
With something ugly

They say it’s modern
But they know not what is modern
You have seen modern so many times before
But it wasn’t like today

They know not what you are
They care not what you feel
about what they do to you
If they did they would mend you
When you hurt
Not wait till you crack
They would love you for what you are
and never let you crumble, at the first place

Oh Calcutta, you are so old
It hurts me to see you crumble
I wish i would draw you and
you would heal with the magic of my pen
But i have no magic pen
nor a strong persona

I dream sometimes of how you may have been
So elegant and so sophisticated
So intelligent!
But now you look despondent
You look lovelorn

I want to say i love you
for you are the one who
brought me up to be a man
with a heart
But i myself have left you now
In my search for what i can be

Oh Calcutta, but you still stand proud
You still believe in the seeds
You had sown and
some shall surely grow
and those shall hold you afloat.

IMG_0151-0.JPG
There is a crazy rush of
thoughts running from
the beginning of a memory to
It’s end
Running from one end to another
Criss-crossing each other
Rubbing each other
Generating so much friction
Elbowing each other
Hurting me with their entangled inelastic mess
About to tear apart the highways of my brain

They have picked up so much dust
The heat from their friction is picking up a storm
It’s heavy,
It’s so foggy
The pain is slowing me down
The heaviness is pulling me down
I am going down.

Through this fog all I could see
Are these fast moving lights
Blinding white and bloody red

My brain inside is so heavy
It is now dragging to a halt
It is caving in
It is stretching its hands out
To hold on to one of those
white fairies that seem ever so light
that they just fly past me

I am tilting to one side
There is so much weight and
it’s so foggy
I can’t see anymore
I can’t stand anymore
I just want to hold on
to one of those white fairies
Only they seem to be like something
That can drag me out of this pit

My hands are so heavy
It is so close to them, yet so far
My vision is slowly fading away
as it just about manages to hold on
to one of the white fairies flying by
And everything just suddenly
becomes so bright for a moment
and then finally silence.
No rush, no criss-crossing
no friction.

image

They told us
that it was the golden peacock
They told this to possibly everyone
before and after me.

And we,
as naive as the kids we were,
we believed a lie.

But then they like
to talk in metaphors
in a land still largely uneducated
Giving people hope to strive for
Something that is, in literal terms, impossible.

Looking back,
it seems like an amazing plot
for making a country full of people
believe in a fairytale-like history
and a hope for the future
that is non-existent.

Just like religions
that have made epics out of stories
and mindless zombies
out of human beings
who are supposed to have evolved thinking.

Reading the newspaper everyday
shows me no signs of any peacock made of gold
Rather a nation
decaying due to neglect,
political and social corruption and
widespread apathy among it’s own people
towards making it a better place
for their own self.

A peacock diseased
in every part of it’s body
Kept alive by sheer chance
and a few good deeds

A peacock, they should have said, made of sand
that has no skeleton
no strong bond that can
keep it together
when the waves roll in
or the wind howls

Blowing away particle by particle
like the hopes of it’s masses
A good metaphor, instead of the golden lie, for the generation today.

that-girl-in-the-blue-tunic
That girl in the blue tunic
She stood there in the middle of,
not just men and women
not just their inhuman metallic carriages
but their illogical degenerating minds

It was like a humongous mechanical contraption, malfunctioning
Its levers and parts
going in every direction
with no regard to the collective functioning
of that machinery, they are part of

I was there too
like a broken piece of metal
protruding from the center of
this civic breakdown

No I wasn’t truly a part of it
I wasn’t there in one of those
huge petrol guzzling monsters
I happened to be there in the middle
in the smallest of those creatures

I was just a passenger
I swear!
I didn’t do anything!
I didn’t do anything at all!

But that is what hurts me the most
Not as much the decadent insanity
of those people there

I did absolutely nothing!
I just sat there like everyone else
waiting for the machine
to start crawling again

In that hopeless moment
I too became a part of
the decadence in display

But she appeared there
out of her metallic shell
like the fairy godmother
of children’s tales and
started putting the pieces
of the rotting machinery
back into their place

She did magic!
She gave all of them hope
But she also gave me misery

She made me realise
at least for as long as the end
of this prose
that I was too, decaying
in the middle of
that modern day hell;
that I did nothing at all

I feel miserable again
for I know that
I may never have
the same conviction and
be as uninhibited as she was

I feel so weak
But why should I?
Is it because it was she and not
a man in a blue shirt
Am I too, like most men
who cannot handle a woman
putting us in our place?

She is still there
in front of my eyes
taking charge of the situation and
easing the traffic
while I just sat in the auto
cursing everyone around.