Friday, December 31, 2010

Gunahon ka Devta - My viewpoint - "A sincere prayer "

A big thank to Deepika and Trivikram for sharing this treasure of emotions by Dharamveer Bharti..

Gunaho ka Devta

Going through one of the bestsellers of Hindi Literature, I felt fortunate, shattered and numb at the same time. I was living the period of 50’s of independent India yet there are number of other reasons for feeling lucky. I love reading past though I know many people take it as complete waste of time, even though I am one of those small section of people who believe in sticking to the old days by reading, watching, listening and yes talking about past. So this is how I started reading Gunaho ka Devta by dharamveer Bharti. I was smiling when I read initial pages of the book and the names of the character: Kapoor aka Chandar, Dr. Shukla, Sudha, Ravindra Bisariya. We hardly hear such names now days and when we are living in Metros. I inclined to read it further and couldn’t stop for another five days. It worked as an addiction whenever in office or after office I used to get time I used fall in to those 248 pages book.

One of the best things somebody can absorb (I am using absorb because this is how one who want can actually take things by just reading) from this novel is “fursat” - Leisure which used to be around even 20 years back from now. Seating and looking at sky in the evening, feeling the freshness and emptiness after rain, lonely summer allover around and sitting quite in the company of those who know you well, listen & understand your silence. We hardly get time to sit with our dear ones sitting silently is something unbelievable in our running lives.

Moreover the dilemma which we often feel in our every relationship the story of Chander, Sudha and a character like Binti is such a milestone to achieve. Without taking much time I will directly come to the point. This Novel is about Sudha and her mentor, friend, companion, soul mate and her lord Chandar. Sudha met Chander when she was in her teen’s .Wild cat - without mom Sudha had no sense of emotions except anxieties which made her fall into loud cries.  Chander an ideal student of Dr. Shukla (Father of Sudha) always calmed her by scolding her with a protection of being around gradually made Sudha a dependent on Chander. This bond strengthens automatically with chander’s declaration of authority over-powered Sudha and Sudha confidently was covered around chander’s soul as an aura of a belief. A belief which was beyond - love, respect and any apprehension of physical intimacy but conviction and worship. Which states well the worshiping - a God and conviction by the god for his disciple.

While reading this novel I felt numerous jolts: How somebody who is supreme and a god of idealism can fall into traps of dilemmas of life and his devotee who is as soft as a petal is strong and can follow a command of his god like a endeavor of discipline, accompanying suffering and pain. When a witness of such bond who underwent the same pain of the god and his devotees incline to enter and wish to stand beside this relation such as Binti.  Turmoil of life which can split your heart in pieces many times.

Mr. Bharti himself said: "…While writing this novel I experienced same type of feelings, which one does, when one is praying with full faith in the time of deep distress.... It appears as if same very prayer has been ingrained in my heart and I am repeating it...."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Memoirs of Diversity of a Chilly Capital

To my choti buaji, for inspiring me to express...

Delhi - people say it is the city of people with heart – “Dilli dil walon ki”. In my observation, after spending almost more than two decades in this city, Delhi is the city of changes and adaptation. Delhi keeps changing. Although Delhiites adapt all the changes easily nevertheless media shows their choices with their highlighted reasons only. Almost all the changes are predefined which help the people of the Capital to be prepared with upcoming changes, for example: Change in the ruling party, changes in constant Indian festivals (which lasts for 365 days on Delhi’s calendar with a new occasion everyday and as the city of the mix cultures, Delhi enjoys all the festive seasons), Change in legislative Sessions (Budget, Monsoon and Winter Sessions), Events such as: Commonwealth, India Fashion Week, Delhi Marathons, Cricket Matches, events at Pragati Maidan from Trade Fair to Textile Fair, Republic day Parade to Gay Parade,a number of Art and Culture Activities in Delhi Haat, IHC, Mandi House and CP, Delhi’s big fat Weddings and their Barat and what not. But here is one change which Delhi welcomes forever and always stands in good spirit for it - “the seasonal change.”

Morning Freeze
Change in the climate of the city is so obvious and beautiful that Delhi not only embraces every season with love but also celebrates all the flavours with pride. From springs to burning summers and then pre -monsoon showers, rains to Dengue, Chikungunya and Malaria and then comes autumn. After that begins the season of wedding and November’s pink winter which gradually changes to sheer white winters in December and January. 


In  November, cool breeze and winter fragrance on the roads, in the mornings & nights, start giving a shiver in the spine and warm jackets and woolen shawls start creating their spaces in our wardrobes. Our mothers start sending woolens to the drycleaners meanwhile blankets and quilts are to be seen hanging on Terrace parapets for sunny rays to take away that naphthalene balls’ smell that stays in our nostrils for days. I still remember when in school, we were supposed to wear pullover because of those circulars, the only thing which kept me sneezing was not that morning freeze but the naphthalene smell from my woolens.   
People I have known for years wait for Giani to release Gaajar Ka Halwa every season in November and so do I. While arranging possibilities to visit Trade Fair we ensure we’ll grab almost everything best and new this year from the fair, related to food, household stuff, wall hangings or handlooms.

In the same month, with Devuthani Ekaadshi the season of wedding starts and almost every banquet, Farm House, Dharmshala, School & colony grounds and even the Gali next door is also ready with shamiyaana for small weddings, engagements, ladies sangeet and DJ Parties. Many new love-stories or to be precise short love stories start and end in these 2-3 days family functions. More or less every 3rd fufaji in these weddings turns off for any such issues related to their pride and in some cases, Jija jis, maama jis, bade tauji or groom’s father or anyone with such a status serves the purpose to add a spice in Indian Marriages while drinking coffee on the sofa in the late night Phere-ceremonies.

Steadily, we move to December. When the planet takes pledges for World’s Aids Day, we are still busy in buying expensive stuff for our marriage functions. Somehow, thinking of December few things strike in my mind - Pink & Red Color , Christmas, Candy floss, Sweet Corns, Songs from Kal ho na ho, Wedding, Angithi, Snow (though I haven’t seen it myself), fog, lights, Carols, wreathe, Mungfali (Peanut) ki Gajjak, shopping for new woolen stuff and Oranges while enjoying winter’s warm sunny rays. We can buy everything from new colorful socks to boots and overcoats from chocolate cakes to coconut cookies from M Block GK Market to Janpath and Sarojini Nagar everything from anywhere, we do not even spare road side popcorn seller by waving 10 Rupees Note from cars’ windows. New movie releases are generally talk-of-the-town as big budget films with exclusive star-cast try to create their marks at the end. Boiled eggs, omelets, Aallo ke Paranthe, Garma-Garam Chai and Coffee compliments our breakfast and Gaajar Mattar, Aaloo-methi, Panner ki Sabzi, Egg curry, chicken and mutton share their own spaces in the menu during lunch and dinner.

Mid December is however exclusive for Romance, Mid -Term Exams, Christmas Day rehearsals in Convent Schools and our darling “Mungfalis (Peanuts)”. If anywhere in DMRC they are segmenting the report of garbage elements, charts related to peanut flakes should increase in this  month. In schools, girls usually fold their skirts twice to decrease the skirts’ length above their knees and boys generally wait for breaks, sports periods for additional sports activities in the sunny grounds where girls too join them to watch their extra-curricular talents. At homes, we enjoy our quilts and television where we do not intend to switch except TV channels or ourselves for uncontrollable natural calls. However, Mungfali comes here too in the form of Gajjak, Roasted or salted.  And by this time our lips and cheeks start complaining the temperature for the need of Lip balms and cold creams.

Late December, increases the fog and chill in the atmosphere. News related to road accidents increases in the newspapers. I remember, we often use to crack jokes in the school bus for non-existence of our school building because of fog and now we suffer late comings in offices which is the result of heavy fog and traffic Jams that is quite a foggy revenge. 
By the Christmas, Churches in Delhi look beautiful with light, decorations and Christmas Carols. Group of friends, office staff, event Management companies and small DJs (like Rinku music party for Dance party, Mata-di-Bhetein and Ladies Sangeet) start arranging for New Year’s Celebrations. The variety of theme parties and new years’ resolution of celebrities spreads everywhere on entertainment channels and newspapers whereas liquor shops celebrate their maximum profits in these days.
Lohri in Delhi

Republic Day Parade @ Rajpath

 With one night celebration of New Year, we keep greeting every one on SMS’ and while shaking hands with everyone for first-two weeks of January, and then Delhi gets busy with another celebration on the tune of "sundar-mundariyun" on Lohdi. I forgot to add, wedding season does not end even in January. It lasts till early March. However, the art of celebration in Delhi is always on the peak. In another 13 days Delhi will again rejoice with republic day celebrations. Rajpath smiles in pride and every Indian salutes Indian constitution and our defense forces even after number of speculations through-out the year on the system. Delhi again decorates like a newly-wed-bride for three days however, not that every Delhiite exclusively enjoys all these small and big expressions, events and celebrations but it is something which is now part of Delhi’s Culture. We, as Delhiites do not celebrate all these occasions as a pride of Delhi yet it is an integral part of ethnicity that we stagnantly ignore or enjoy. Nevertheless Delhi is nothing without this diversity.

Delhi on the eve of National Days
Special Thanks to My dearest Pal Pooja M Khushaldas for her time for reading the final draft of the blog and to my Delhi for keeping me lively just as she is...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Two Bottom Line Story

To my chotti buaji for inspiring me to express...

I was very happy and keen to join a company which is doing a social cause and working closely with rural women of India and improving their living standard. I just dressed in my Kurta and Pajami for another office day when I agreed to appear for an interview in this NBFC (Non Banking Financial Company). I met the most humble HR in my career. He was a little shy in talking and I thought that he didn’t like me. Already annoyed for passing through Azadpur area, I noticed that their office was in somewhat 30 to 40 years old building, which in first sight was ready to collapse. When I was asked to go back and wait for the final call I became furious and I blasted on my consultant for dropping me from an established IT firm to this Municipal office. After I received a call from them to reappear for the final round I thought of taking some notes on the term Microfinance. From this moment my life took a turn. Spending an hour on Wikipedia, Grameen Bank, Ford Foundation, CGap and few more Microfinance Institutions’ websites I realized it is a web of such institutions working on this social cause.

The day I met their CMD on the day of my final Interview, I realized how keenly people are working on providing financial assistance to these low income people. On my way back to home I told my family that I have reached to the right place and this is the right job for me and I will be able to give my best contribution to this sector. I wasn’t wrong, every day in past 3 months have taught me something more and have boosted me with some more energy. I was hired to head the communication department and to form a new department (Social Performance Management). I expanded the team; thankfully my boss and my subordinates are extra-ordinarily humble, enthusiastic and creative humans. I started reading about this sector more and realized that lot of media critics have lot of speculations, number of stories on high rate of interest, big institution entering into IPO and couple of communities - supporting social goals. By that time I was still relieved in my mind that it is all the social cause and nothing more.

One such evening after office, I was talking to a friend who carelessly commented on my work profile “people have amazing ideas for profit making.” Then it clicked in my mind – yes, that’s the story, while people were busy in calculating their figures for profit the idea of social responsibility slipped. Two decades of Microfinance Sector, by reaching and providing financial services to millions of people for their productive needs, still critics are only making stories with all no-no-no and not good thoughts, still there is a need of reminding them that this sector is providing a social contribution as well.
                                        This is how the need of Social Performance came into existence: All such Microfinance Institutions (MFI) were requested to report to standards for their social performance, just like they have annual audited statements and financial reporting for Banks, funders and their investors. They were requested to notice how responsible they are to their employees, clients, community, society and environment. It worked; many big and small MFIs approached to seminars and started reporting to measure their Y-O-Y growth on social performance. There are many delusions in the process and yet it is amazing from common man’s point of view, this is how my mother puts this whole sector in her words, “I am thrilled by just realizing that how small groups of 5-6 rural women form a center of 25-30 women and choose their group leaders and center leaders under the supervision of the loan officers, they qualify themselves as a client and request for their financial requirement on their productive needs. They ménage and in discipline follow the sessions before loan disbursement and meanwhile learn to write their name, undergoes training on financially literacy for managing their funds. She waits and repays patiently week by week for a year. Also, she returns after sometime for new loan or after few cycles she graduates her from below the line to above the national poverty line. It is a great example of learning, discipline, leadership, patience and unity”

On the lighter note I agree with my mother and also from a broader perspective on this sector I see it as small and big MFIs are stretching their hands working professionally for profits, reaching to the remote areas for the new clients and employment generation for the village people and knowingly and unknowingly spreading a message of two bottom lines for many enterprises they are supporting – Financial Growth + Social Responsibility
I sum up the whole matter in the last question - I read somewhere while reading many article on this social Business: “Do social business require a special breed of entrepreneurs, or can they be easily implemented by entrepreneurially minded individuals guided by a social passion.” I don’t have an answer to this question but whoever fits into the above mention categories should work and spread the message of this two bottom line story and do their contribution to this sector for creating a world without poverty.