Looking For Me?

Rose Plant

Inspired by Herbert Rappaport and image from the net.

A Hold-Up On The Eastern Express Highway

9:35 am: Cars are whizzing by in the ten lanes of the Eastern Express Highway.

A kilometer beyond the Ghatkopar turn-off, the outbound traffic in the five lanes squeezes itself into three lanes near the middle. Cars slow down momentarily only to smoothly swing into the lane on their right and pick up even more speed to catch up on the lost seconds. A car seemed to be involved in a fresh accident and is the cause for the traffic to veer away from the lanes on the left. A couple of guys seen standing at the spot trying to flag down a vehicle.

10-15 am: We’re on the Eastern Express Highway heading for Seepz.


We’ve passed the Ghatkopar turn-off behind us. The cars ahead of us don’t seem to move fast enough. Very quickly we find ourselves at the tail of a crawling procession of cars. After some ten minutes of generally blaming the state-of-affairs in the country, suddenly the scene comes into our view ahead of us.

We all fall silent, half getting up from our seats for a better view. The guy seated on the other side of the isle comes across, leans over smothering me with his smelly jacket, only the window-bars holding him back. The back of a silver gray Maruti Esteem is now visible. As we move forward like those tableaus in a Republic Day ceremonial parade, we see the Maruti halted on its way to climb up a light pole. Broadsiding the car, we have almost stopped. The windshield is all cracked up. The pole is sticking out of the bonnet at an angle. The dashboard is inches away from the driver’s seat. No one around.

800px-Car_crash Wiki

‘There’s no way he could have survived, poor chap,’ the guy in smelly jacket concludes as he retreats.

There’s oil spilled, but I can’t see any blood.

We have to keep moving.

Ah, now the clog is behind us. We’re picking up speed mercifully.

The guy sitting next to me recalls a tragedy that befell his neighbor years ago.

With some luck, I may still be able to avoid the red mark on the muster.

2-30 pm: The after-noon edition of the City News reported the accident on the Eastern Express Highway beyond the Ghatkopar turn-off.

According to some motorists who called in, it is said to have happened at about 9 in the morning.

End .
Credits: openclipart.com (drunken-duck) and Wiki

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.
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.


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!’


The morning was like any other

The morning was unlike any other
up the dirt road

Trudging along was the weary traveler
Under the sun boring down unchecked
Not for him any shade or shelter

Sky above and ground beneath
Clueless was the hapless bird
Not for him his home and hearth.

Building up his winter’s cache
Thrifty squirrel scurrying around
Not for him his gourmet berries bash

Their world swung on its sides
Lizards, Beetles, Ants
Not for them their holes, cracks or crevices

No flowers, dirge or eulogy
None near or dear to shed a tear
Nor a black-bordered obituary

Lay bare and spread-eagled
Like a fallen soldier on the frontline
To be chain-sawed and carted

Mourned in silence by the voiceless
Not a thing amiss for the sentient
What if the world was a mere tree less

The morning was like any other
up the dirt road


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,

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)