Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Giving in India

The topic on the Twestival page read “Volunteering as an option of Giving - Giving time, energy and efforts”, but for me it was “Giving Time, Hope and Money”. I have been working in a school part time as a part of a Hyderabad based NGO. We aim at teaching the Basic English to junior classes, apart from career mentoring and evoking interest in computers.

When I started working for this organization (one day a week), I was not sure whether I would be able to make an impact and there will be sufficient time to take this into my busy schedule. A lot of us in Hyderabad are IT and Consulting professionals with life running round the clock. Heavy schedule and cut throat competition makes us inept to think like humans some time i.e. beyond 3 AM in night and with family life coming into picture it’s all the more difficult. Still a try was not bad and so I did.

I was dumbstruck at the ground work which is being done by Indian NGOs for the children. I met a lot of people here- those who were being taught, the ones who were teaching and those who were silent spectators. Of the many I have met the common point among them was their determination to bring about a positive change. Radhika- a house wife and a feminist, is devoted to the school totally, she does all the works from teaching to sometimes cleaning. Radika comes from a rich family; she wore short flowing skirts and was Angrezi to the core. I had to ask her and so I did, “It just feels that you don’t belong here, what’s the reason?” I was candid because that’s how I am. She said “If you mean my clothes, my red hair and accent then they are the last things you should look for at least in me; I resigned from the Top American Advertising firm and came back here. And No this is not the only thing I do, nor I have plans to enter politics but yes, this is what I look forward to when I wake up in the morning. This is essentially what gives me the strength to stand proudly for the country which is undergoing the fastest change in the world; Anitha – when I looked at her there she was, as small as she could be and as poor as I could see. She said “madam, this is what helped me to pass my 12th board and I want to extend it to whatever level I can.” ; and then there was Begum Madam, I don’t know her exact name because that’s what she is called in the school. She has not done her schooling, has always lived in an arena of 4 kms around her house and spent most of her time inside the 4 walls. She is 73 years of age and the happiest living creature I have ever seen. Madam sits with the kids in the class and learns with them. After her morning class of English she cooks the midday meal served to the children by the school and sweeps the arena for children to play. Her petite figure, growing age and educational background are no hindrances to her routine. She says “I did not know the meaning of life before I came here, the learning is mutual and I was so happy when I came to know that we call an elephant - an elephant in English. It’s very important for girls to learn about their rights and hygiene, I want them to know that this country has a system called court and yes, we have the right to go to court”. These are simply awesome people whom I have met; I have no word other than awesome. Volunteering today is not limited to status, money and show off, it’s become a responsibility. To give back to the people and country who somehow have contributed to our success, the AC car, the Versace dress, the visits to restaurants and everything else.

On the donation aspect, it would be rightful to thank the Indian Media be it any mode of communication-Advertising, Bollywood, Blogs, Radios. In the past few years there have been many social events with mass scale advertising for fund raising and people have gone out and supported the cause. The striking element here is that these events don’t portray the donation as the main activity but the involvement of people ate grass root level with social causes. Once you are ready to spend time, the affordable money comes from the pocket to donate. Donations have reached a level where people will not hesitate before giving 100 Rs. thinking it’s a small amount. The notion “Every penny counts” is flowing through the country. It is a mutual symbiosis to lessen the gap between rich and poor, literate and illiterate, females and males.

And as Santa Singh said to Banta Singh “ Hain, you never told me that you donated money to charity. I always thought the Paisa from our bet went to the buttenchicken’s treat. Tabhi main Kenda, Ki chicken da accident kab hua?”

I am a blogger and initiatives such as below are helping me do my share, Will you want to do the same. THANKS Twestival India for conducting this, it is not an event it’s a gesture.

For what it is: My Twestival, My Chance

For Twestival Guys: I want the grant from this blogpost to be donated to ‘Aashayein Foundation’.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle

There can be 2 worlds where our children or their or their .. children can find themselves in, one in a land of rocks without water and air, plants and animals, all hot and all cold OR the world where we were born and bought up by our parents.

As the saying goes “What goes around, comes around”.

An introspection that made me do my bit for the environment. I was so shocked to see when I sat and wrote this that in how many ways I can help mother Earth.

Getting ready for office I was,

Flowing bath tap without pause

The room I went to, was left behind,

with lights and fans, running combined

The mosquito killer goodnight mat pays

Paradoxes its name by running even in days

Breakfast is breaking the fast with a quick bite

Even with coffee machine heating left and right

The geyser which heats runs for hours

“I forgot to switch off, there was no power”

The lunch being cooked by the cook of the house

Is blackening the roof, blacker than the attic mouse

A chimney to buy, he says: “is too costly”

Costlier than the life it’s affecting poorly

Off to office, driving on the roads

Playing the music harsher than toad’s

The sound rustling so high, no one bothers

Music it is for me, headache for others

Reaching the office, climbing through lift

No hurry, but the ladder is just not swift

Using the Gym, I will also be

Walking in the park, Let it be

Fresh air and walk are much healthier

Gym is more IN, till I am wealthier

My laptop and my PC are always working

Even when I am out, they are lurking

Forgot to give water to the money plant

Which rests on my desk and is going slant

A little of water, a little of care,

will give me more O2 to share

I drink from 10 paper cups, 10 times a day

Forgetting for a cup a tree is slay

Using a Mug will make more sense

Making the greenery ever so dense

Coming back from office, I bring the packs

Of grocery and eatables, laying on the racks

Using the paper instead of polybag

Lessening the plastics in the house to sag

Bulbs we use, are easier to choose

Making the ozone ever so loose

Chloro Floro carbons that they ooze out

Hampers the climate without any doubt

A little change here, a little effort there

Let’s show Mother Earth that we do care.

How we can, What do we do ??

Who can help you out ?

I pledge to go beyond the hour!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Delhi - A story (Part 1)

Just stepping out of the train, the familiar voice came crashing into my ears “ Hain ji, bade din hue Mrs. Khanna…Sada munda kina bada ho gaya hai.. Hai..”.

No I did not know Mrs. Khanna or Mrs. Mehra for that matter but I knew the voice of Delhi. Yes I had entered Saddi Dilli, with its magical aura, love and long history.

Delhi had and will always be a sweetheart for me; I tasted its colors at an early age and still relish the taste of Dum Aloo and Tadke wali Dal. The familiar faces of Aunties, the vendors, Loud music, hot summer, and even colder winter, Chat ka chatka and pani ka matka. Visits to IIT campus or AIMS ka canteen, Nescafe ki shop ya Autowalon ke khwab- There is no limit to the dreams Delhi weaves into you.

When I was young, the most I knew about the capital of world’s largest democracy was that it has a tall tower called Qutub Minar where even the birds can’t reach. From the Tomb of Qutub to IndiaGate, From the Disco and pubs to Gajra and Mujra, From the slinky lanes to the broad highways, anything and everything about this city is enigmatic.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Zeenat's story (one of the Winner of BlogAdda Too Busy to Care Contest)

I have to work also
My friends will be waiting
Have to catch up MTV show
Its time to study
I need to attend my best friend's Birthday bash
This new dance class at the center hall
Pizza time everything else can wait
I want to go out of India
I am tired of the population in this country
poverty and pollution

Yes, i can go on writing and the limit to this page will finish..

We can always invent our own reasons for not doing something we should have especially concerning others. I am too busy to care, but want to do something. Jaago Re and are helping me do my bit for the society.

Zeenat in the class.

Here's what happened:

And I looked back again, “Should I”, I thought. “Darn it all, I am getting late. Next Monday for sure.” I turned over and started walking at a fast pace towards the auto rickshaw. I postponed the thought that I had been procrastinating for a long time, again.

I am a software engineer, and as the name suggests my life revolves around my laptop with the exception of the times when I am teaching in a school where I go on Mondays. Each week those 2 hours of my life gives me both happiness and tension. No I am not a mean creature, but getting up at 6 AM in the morning was never my cup of tea. I drag myself out just for the reason that I may end up educating the ones who might follow this chain and hence contribute my portion to the making of a better society. The bigger reason is that I love to see the joy on their faces when I walk in the class. 40 pairs of eyes looking deeply in to mine, wanting to learn new things and enjoying the JOIE DE VIVRE’.

Among these children who are mainly 7-8 years old there are some who have made their place in my heart. They have hit the spot and touched me with their efforts to learn despite social and economic obstacles. Especially a girl named ‘Zeenat’, 12 years of age, elder than most of my 3rd class students. She is accompanied by her 2 year old sister whom she takes care of even during the classes. There is a certain attraction which she commands and all the time I wonder whether she wants to talk about something. She never expressed that she wanted to talk to me but I always knew she had. There was something about her. Everytime I entered the class she sat in the corner of the last row, did all her assignments with the tiniest of tiny pencil and was always the first one to know an answer but never answered in the class. I knew I had to talk to her about something that was wrong and did not seem to be in place. I decided that I would do that after the Monday class as I had no meeting that day in office (I go to office directly after school on Mondays). I finished teaching at 9:45 that day; I called Zeenat and asked her if she can come to the school gate with me. She looked at her sister who was playing with her pencil now, and asked me if she could take her along. I agreed. My phone rang, Boss calling, , reach early!

“Zeenat, I will talk to you next Monday”.

I did not go to the class the next week; I was visiting my Parents in central India. I should have visited the school another day but I did not. I was busy. That’s what I thought.

I reached the class early the next week; I waited for her to come. She walked in without her sister and her bag on the other hand. I gave the class a test to write and then turned my attention to her. I noticed something, something that was not there before, something that looked out of place and reason. She had covered her head with red Scarf and her eyes were bleeding with kajal. Her lips seemed too red to speak anything. No, it’s not abnormal for a girl to do any of these but it looked like she did not do any of this herself.

After the class I called another student, and asked about Zeenat. I said “Hey, where is Zeenat’s sister, is she ill?” She said “No, Zeenat got married and her sister now lives with Zeenat’s brother who is in 2nd grade. Zeenat will go to her husband’s house next month.”

I did not say anything. I could not. I went to Zeenat and congratulated her. She looked at me with vacant eyes.

I was late; I had been busy, very busy!

“It hurts to see the blackness in her eyes,

the redness of her lips, the sadness in her voice.

I had my reason – I was busy, working, occupied

With the same answer again I had lied. “

I made a promise that day to myself, to give a hand to the one who needs it. To stop by for some minutes, the work can wait. To accomplish a meaning in life greater than filling an excel at office.

Child marriage - A system's irony.

Child marriage is common in many parts opf the world, claiming millions of victims annually--and hundreds of thousands of injuries or death resulting from abuse or complications from pregnancy and childbirth. Child marriage has many causes: cultural, social, economic and religious. In many cases, a mixture of these causes results in the imprisonment of children in marriages without their consent.

Poverty, “Protecting" the girl's sexuality, Gender discrimination, Trafficking ...

Child marriages are illegal in India and we can stop them. Please refer to details of the 1929 act that prevents marriage of a girl below 18 years of age.

How to help


Jaago Re is helping me out, join the hand.....