Mumbai’s Homeless (For Kids)

In Mumbai, when it rains it usually pours.

This time it is happening metaphorically too.

Just when we are coping up with this Covid-19 lock-down seriously impacting everyone’s personal, professional and social lives, there were these reports coming in of imminent invasion of the city by some zillion locusts, advising us to hermetically secure our residences and stay indoors until it passes away. Fortunately it did not happen as feared – the pests seemed to have lost their way or perished in their march.

Barely a few days later, now the Met Department suddenly came up with the announcement of a cyclonic storm deciding to visit Mumbai proper in the next couple of days. Heavy rains, yes, cyclones, never in this city for as long as I could remember.  High wind-speeds and heavy rains were predicted. We were advised to stay indoors which we were anyways doing with the lock-down in force; and, alerted to the possibility of disruptions in power, water, essential supplies and what else – we didn’t know.  

When it came, the cyclone had mercifully changed its mind choosing a course to the south of the city. Did cause loss of lives and damage to property in its wake though not as badly as feared, quickly dissipating itself over the land. In the city, if the clips are to be believed, rains had lashed certain parts turning some streets into mini rivers, utensils and clothes sent flying in some high-rise buildings…On our street the tall coconut trees swayed crazily. In our own complex, three or four Ashoka trees, young, tall and slender, no longer able to keep their heads high, bowed down touching the walls on the inside. Surprisingly the neem tree, also young and slender, stood up well.

All in all, no serious damage done, no disruptions of utilities, we, lodged safely in our houses – except for a vague and a nagging thought not asserting itself strongly enough yet to cause loss of sleep.

**

So here I was on the following day into my midday nap. A blissful escape – for, a man at my age can only take so much of not-so-amusing series of nature’s capers.

And then just when god and everything else seemed to be in their place and peace reigned, well, it was not to be.    

A persistent…rrrr…rrrr….rrrr…that refused to go away, loud and strident sure to wake up a hibernating animal in mid polar winter.

 Man had taken the baton over from nature, it looked.  

I woke me up with a humour not unlike of a man tapping on the back of a mama bear in the forest and asking it to shush its bawling cub.

It must be from the accursed neighbour’s flat across the street, I suspected. For some 6 to 8 weeks, they – mason, carpenter, painter, plumber…were making such a racket every day from morning to until late evening. Appeared to be doing some major make-over. And then the lock-down came about restoring the tranquil. So it was mercifully for several weeks until partial lifting of the lock-down was announced and today they must have returned to continue with their mayhem and murder. Don’t know how it is elsewhere, but here in our country the building and repairs industry is one of the worst offenders guilty of high-decibel noise pollution and quite unconcerned about the same.

Got up to find out what was happening…and a target for my ire.

It was the municipal staff, arranged by the quick-thinking secretary of the complex, sawing off the precariously bent-down sections of the Ashoka trees. Like decapitation on execution blocks in medieval times.

Uncovered by the branches lopped away, a crow’s nest showed up on the neem tree, now open to the elements.

Suddenly the nagging thought surfaced and struck me.

It’ll be several months before the trees grow again from the stumps they’re cut to now. Sawed off it had to be, only I wish it was done a little higher up on the trunk leaving some foliage as leafy cover for the birds. May be it was considered and found not feasible.

With their homes gone here and now, where would the sparrows rest, sleep and breed?

The only comforting thought is: it had happened before and they survived. Fervently hoping they tide over it once again. Though didn’t hear them chirp two mornings last:-(

End

Image: Jayashree Kulkarni,‎ House Sparrow Waraje, Pune Dec – 19

Growing Up Is

CHRISTINE  ELLGER.jpg

 

End

 

 

Source: German fine art photographer Christine Ellger

A Tale From A Mango Tree (100 Words)

owl-tree-pic-500x500 wallstickers.co za

The Wise One chatted up: ‘A Guru has come into the village.’

‘I know,’ said the Mango Tree.

‘You know? How?’

‘They rested right here under on their way to the village.’

‘Oh…last evening, had gone to the hut where he is staying…a steady stream of people kept up going in.’

‘Hear any wise words from him?’

‘No, there was no pravachan. Just people fussing about…he seems to enjoy all their attention and adulation…just like us.’

‘Well, his way of staying connected with the world for what it is, I would think. And be reminded, yes, he’s just like us.’

End

 

A Tale From A Mango Tree (50 Words)

owl-tree-pic-500x500 wallstickers.co za

Rushing past the Mango Tree, the Wind mocked: ‘Don’t you feel sorry you can’t move, go places, meet people…?’

‘No more than you do, my friend’ the Tree shrugged and smiled, ‘when you can’t stand for a moment and savor the beauty of those places and people on your way.’

End

 

 

A Tale From A Mango Tree

owl-tree-pic-500x500 wallstickers.co za

The Wise One knew right away from the flutter.

‘Hey, you are not one of us.’

‘Right you’re. Not to worry, I’ll be gone in minutes.’

‘What brings you here?’

‘Came to eat on a berry.’

‘Foolish thing, don’t you know this is a mango tree?’

‘Oh, I brought it with me.’

A gentle breeze rustled the leaves.

End

 

 

 

Source: Image from wallsticker.co.za

 

 

 

 

 

From My Diary – An Extract

June 1st
The film disturbed me…the plight of the single women left in the lurch by the shameless men. Amazing NGO guys working for them…and what do they get in return…

June 10th
The pravachan (talk/sermon) by the Swamiji (holy man) – it made so much sense. Shouldn’t we all give back something?

June 21st
The Swamiji said it again. Have been thinking about it. Will set aside a thousand rupees a month for giving away. I think I can afford it.

July 2nd
The HelpAge brochure…just the thing I had in mind. Helping destitute women. Must write a check.

July 5th
The check yet to be sent out. Damn all this work. Sucks up the time and the energy to do anything else. Keep forgetting.

July 18th
Saw the site. Seems to be a big setup. My contribution – a burp in a hurricane. The phrase – I coined it, Hadley Chase’s was less sanitary. Look at smaller setup’s desperately needing support. These guys won’t miss it.

August 28th
Sanskrit and Veda’s institute struggling for survival… S what if I haven’t learnt. Must do our bit for preserving tradition. It’s only two thousand rupees. Nice and smart of them to ask small.

September 7th
Yes, the institute. Had a thought – what if they’re already beyond the tipping point? Would be a waste, no? Must look at something else.

October 5th
Home for Cancer patients…poor folks. Need a place to stay in the city for treatment. Cities…so expensive. Six thousand rupees to cover one or two patients. A great thing. Will also protect us – it’ll be such an irony. Lord would not let that happen.

October 16th
Just checked on the Home’s brochure. No Income-Tax registration. No known names. These days…so many scams. Who knows if it’s genuine?

December 10th
Today, a procession by film-stars collecting for flood victims in the south. How will my contribution make a difference? These stars…if they give what they charge for just one film that should handle half a dozen floods. And what is the government doing with all these taxes? Passing on the buck to us? What passing the buck? They’re collecting the buck. There’s a word for such wrongly applied phrases – can’t recall. Some mal…

March 10th
So boring. Had to be done. Readied Income-Tax returns. Just found haven’t made any donations to claim deductions. Must do it in the next financial year.

March 28th
This is easy. Swamiji talked about small acts of kindness – like feeding the pigeons. I think, I’ll begin with that. Men will take care of men. Who will worry about these poor creatures? Need to check on this avian flu, though.

No later entries found on the subject.
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End
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Credits: openclipart.com (Johnny_automatic)

Oh, My God

The Sishya (disciple) thought aloud: ‘The world is being torn apart by geography, race, gender, culture, religion, language, economic disparity, etc., etc. Strangely these forces unite people at one level and pit them against one another on a larger canvas. Of these religion intended to uplift the mankind seems to be most perniciously divisive.’

‘You’re right,’ concurred the Guru. ‘Religion – every one of them – claims a god of its own. And the gods seem to be fighting a proxy war for supremacy through their overzealous faithful on this earth!’

‘That’s an awful thing to say about the gods…er…I mean about god.’

‘You know what I think? It could well be the gods already have a truce up there and for fun kept it from them down here.’

‘Watch what you say – you may get hauled up for profanity.’

‘I’ve just this to ask of the believers: If you’re the children of a god, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, and just and loving, what about them? I mean the others, the multitude, you torment, coerce, despise or even coax. Defective production batches off your god’s factory, to be mended?’

‘Do I hear an irreligious rant?’

‘No, it is not.’

‘Eh?’ the Sishya thought for a while before dismissing it as one of those conondrums Guru often spun out.

End

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Source: Credits to openclipart.org (rg1024) for the image.

Upended Wisdom

Strangely inscrutable are the ways our mind abstracts, indexes and stores away incidents in our lives. Not infrequently incident A dredges up memories of a long-ago incident B. A recent instance of this was a newsfeed item from Time instantly taking me back to the day some thirty+ years ago:

Our second-floor office in Prabhadevi was in the shape of an unfinished rectangle with a long side and two short sides. The long side was laid out as a large hall with cabins for mangers on one side and, on the other side, a line of tables, one behind the other, for the staff, and a passage-way in the middle. Being the central office for coordinating all commercial and engineering support for other regional offices spread throughout the country, there was a large volume of paper documents tracked and processed at this office.

An obvious corollary was the need for storage space for keeping the large box-files holding these documents. While fitting out the office, the carpenter-by-appointment had provided a two-rack shelf that ran along the length of the wall. Each staff got some three feet of shelf-space above his side-table and easily accessible standing up from his seat.

The Big Boss routinely took rounds of the office like a tiger on prowl. If ever the files did not sit neat on the shelf, there would be on-the-spot fireworks in the hall leaving their owner badly singed.

On this day, just before luncheon break, we suddenly heard a sound of a kind we had not heard before. When we looked up and around clueless, we saw, somewhere in the middle of its length, a segment of the shelf coming down with the files dropping off like panic-stricken folks jumping off a building on fire. It was quickly stopped in its descent by the side-table directly under the collapsing segment of the shelf. That was not all. Before we could lift our jaws up, right before our eyes, we saw the contiguous segments on either side also coming down in a wave. Within a few seconds, to our horror, all of the shelf – some sixty feet of it – was resting down off the wall.

Luckily no one was hurt though many of us took a while to recover from the shock.

It took several weeks to get a new shelf and the files back in their place.

Now, let me switch to the newsfeed item from Time that triggered the recall. Here’s an extract:

Watch: Store Shelf Collapse Shatters 7,000 Wine Bottles

…It wasn’t exactly a sparkling day for workers at Superior Discount Liquor, after a 78-foot shelf gave way, sending nearly 7,000 wine bottles crashing to the floor to form a reservoir of booze.

Staff scampered to safety with a river of red wine hot on their heels as the entire store flooded. According to one employee, wine was pouring out of the front and back doors of the Sheboygan, Wis. shop.

Visiting salesman Nick Haen had almost finished restacking the shelf on his weekly visit to the store, when a peculiar sound caught his attention.”I heard a little shift and all of the sudden I looked up and just saw bottles start coming, and so I turned around and booked it as fast as I could,” Haen, 23, told Sheboygan Press. “It was a little bit of a rush, a little bit of a, ‘Holy man, did that just happen?’ It was unbelievable.”…

Not resting at the office shelf and the store shelf, the mind jumped to Bond novels where cut-outs limit the damage caused by a breach and to the story of the Titanic with its bulkheads not quite serving their avowed purpose of compartmentalization and saving it from flooding waters.

What could possibly tie up these disparate’s together in the eyes of the mind?

Perhaps the cluster is filed under the abstracted wisdom: ‘United we fall, divided we stand!’

End

The One Chance

Men of science declare, energy
can only be transformed – just as
light is gained when charge is lost.

The folks with the books go into
overdrive if debits don’t
pull down the credits to net nothingness.

If there is more cow, for milk and meat,
– the ecologists are finding out – there’s also
more methane around to warm us up.

If Russian harvest withers,
farmers elsewhere profit. Global
commerce weds scarcity to plenty.

Oceans don’t swell up
when rivers empty their waters –
only to be boiled off as clouds.

If you rush to point out, the matter in the universe
has outwitted the anti-matter, wait, I’d say,
for them to figure it out finally.

The tyrant rules supreme over all he sees.
A zero-sum game set up by an unseen hand?
It’s always ‘take here, give there; gain here, lose there.’

Or, is it?
All wired up,
inescapably?

It’s all in our minds, I’d say.
Yes, it’s just what I mean – the one realm
yet outside the tyrant’s reins.

Men’s minds go myriad ways. All the same,
summed together, they’re anything but nothing.
The living world – an ample proof.

It’s the one chance, the best yet, for us
to break the game into the additive; perhaps
its master too is ready with his applauses.

(Stray Thoughts)