Shifting is done and we have ‘settled’ in to our new place. Commemoration date of our entrance shall be noted down as the 1st day of September, in the year of our good Lord, 2011. I’m a little incoherent right now. Could be from the food overload I put myself through just an hour ago. Budaejigae, ice cream and a ‘diet’ Pepsi. Hoo hoo. Very healthy eating….ahem.
So how is this new place working out? The major irritant so far has been the lack of a wash basin for washing dishes in. Yeah, you guessed it…THAT’S where we’ve been washing our dishes! Apart from this ‘minor’ setback, the place is not half bad. Spacious, with lots and lots of room to spare. We turned the inside room into a kitchen and it’s so ‘cozy’ that my flatmate has decided to make that her study/sleep area. What makes it cozy? Could be the stack of bags against one wall or the fridge and shelf along another or perhaps the table holding our stove and gas cylinder? Who knows?! The bathroom is another riot, with a tiny corridor leading to it. We couldn’t help but notice the difference in tile designs on the walls of the bathroom. In the end, we concluded that the landlord must indeed be really cheap that he went around asking people for their left over tiles from different construction sites! Lol!
The balcony is glorious, overlooking the busy and NOISY main road. But I’ve decided to take this ‘noise’ as the ultimate test of living in a city…reminiscent of New York’s motto, ‘The City That Never Sleeps’….ahem. The first night in the house was interesting. The curtains can’t be pulled all the way across so a bit of the window was left exposed to the street lights below. The light they gave off was that kind of orange-yellow glow that you’d expect to see in an outdoor concert at night. Then every time a car would pass by it would feel even more like being in a concert with the headlights acting as those huge lights that pan across the crowd. My flatmate and I couldn’t help laughing every time it happened. Our own private concert to keep us wide awake….sigh…Lol.
The second day in the house was action-packed as the fan ‘decided’ to FALL on top of my flatmate while she was sleeping! Luckily, she was sleeping in the foetal position so it just touched her feet but nothing more than that. Phew. There was slight pandemonium that day and we marveled at the strength of my friend’s self-preservation instinct as she later confided that she had jumped off the bed and ran, not because of the feeling of the fan falling on her, but because of the flash of white light that had come just before the sound of something short-circuiting which was then followed by the fan falling. Wow! O_O That’s amazing reflexes and drive….I started thinking that if an apocalypse was to happen in the form of a zombie virus breaking out etc. then she would most likely be one of the few to survive….hmmmmm. That’s a big compliment when you think about it….hmmm…or a big insult….hmmmmmmmmm….
It’s funny how you miss something when it’s no longer around. I do not know why; when we didn’t have the internet for these few days, suddenly there were so many things coming up which required a net connection!!!! I realized how much man has become so dependent on machines and technology. Does it matter if I don’t check Facebook or Twitter for a few days? Or if I don’t blog for a while? Will the world really miss me that much? Why do we want to be heard, seen and acknowledged so much? So much so that we put ourselves up for scrutinization to complete strangers?
This just in….earthquake just struck Delhi less than 5 to 10 minutes ago. First thing I did was head to Facebook and Twitter to see what others were saying. Lol. One of the best examples of one of the better uses for technology….
Sounds like a weighty topic, nah? But really it’s just nerves and uneasiness that sets in when a change is about to take place. The ‘Big Day’ has arrived and we are finally moving out. It’s been quite a week with several people coming by the flat to check it out even before we had moved! There have been some harried moments and some plain odd ones too. The harried moments have usually been when you’re fast asleep and suddenly spring to life with the realization that someone is at the door, peering in through the windows! You jump up and forget that you: a) Haven’t washed your face, b) Your hair is a REAL mess, c) Most likely your breath stinks! d) Your ‘delicates’ are lying all over the place and e) You shall have to play ‘pet sitter’ and ‘guard’ these prospective flat owners from your ‘vicious’ dogs…ahem…yes, my ‘vicious’ 4-month old pup and my other equally ‘vicious’ year old pup, aptly named ‘Lazy Old Man’. Brrrhhhh, very vicious indeed! Lol.
There have been some ‘spectacular’ moments related to people visiting this house:
- Two girls came to check out the flat without warning and I was busy making myself some instant noodles mixed with my current fave home chutney, Axuni! (For those who are unaware of what axuni is, it is a pretty pungent chutney from North East India made from fermented soyabeans! Delicious but not very pleasant to smell and pronounced a-kh-ooni). They obviously smelt it and asked their broker, “Does this place have some smell problem?” Whoops!
- One guy returned to see the flat with his friend (note: he is petrified of dogs) and we had to hold on to our dogs while they went inside. The little one, Hector, got loose and ran in because he LOVES people and went straight behind him. Unfortunately, the guy didn’t see and he jumped, skipped and hopped his way out of the door!
- Another broker showed up to show the place to a girl. I was dazed and very much half-asleep but still managed to open the door and warned him that there was crap right behind and to mind his step. Just when I said it, he stepped on it and cursed, ‘Shit’….am not sure why I said it but I responded and said, ‘Yes it is’….Man, I must have been REALLY sleepy and annoyed!
- Just yesterday afternoon, a Korean couple came to see the house. I had no idea that his wife was petrified of dogs as well…that too, of the little one. She kept making these really ‘weird’ whining noises (kind of like when a rich, spoilt wife nags her husband in that annoying fake-cute way….don’t know why that description fits, but it does!). She acted as if the dogs were all over her…Note: They were standing in front of her, sniffing her and giving her a weird puzzled look…they couldn’t figure out, what exactly the noises she was making were either! My flatmate got annoyed and just mumbled under her breath ‘Just get inside’ and at that moment her husband was also getting annoyed and in an impatient tone, kept telling her (in Korean words and hand gestures) to get inside. No matter the linguistic barriers or cultural divide, annoyance is still annoyance. Lol.
Last to last night was quite a night when I think about just how much activity we were able to pack in. It marked the second day of our house-hunt and the only recurring thought throughout the whole hunt was, ‘Not worth the rent, not worth the rent’; another recurring thought on the whole issue of inflated rent rates in general has been ‘Bubble burst, Japan real estate, Financial Depression’. Lol. But that’s where it could go if people are not careful. We found a place firstly and finally. Confusing? This flat was actually in the same neighbourhood as our current flat, practically right next door. A two-room set, small bathroom, large balcony, no kitchen (Oh no sensei!) all for the ‘lovely’ price of Rs.10,000. That is a lovely price considering the going rates out here. We settled everything today and should be moving in by the end of this month. Yay!!!! I shall not be homeless or in no-man’s-land at the end of the month…I’ll have a home
So what happened last to last night? A very good friend and ‘teacher’ came over to do what he loves to do best…cook for us! Yes, you heard me. He likes to cook and feed people! We got lovingly fed and I got a good ‘lecture’ on preparations for the UPSC and I promise, promise!!!! I am starting. It’s just so daunting and overwhelming right now….sigh….Moving on.
What was the hot topic of the night that got this post’s title started? Why, none other than our very own Anna! I am sure people must be getting tired with this being the only hot talking point in our nation right now but unfortunately, if you are living in our nation’s capital then there isn’t much you can do. If your paan wallah and his customers are discussing it then there is something definitely going on. If the small shopkeepers in the slum next door are reading about it in the vernacular newspapers, then there is something definitely going on. I suppose it was bound to happen that it’s filtered up to the living rooms of most middle class families and very much through to all sections of society. My friend got fired up and rightly so and decided to take to the net to finally educate herself on what this whole Jan Lokpal Bill is about and who exactly this Anna Hazare is. She shared some of what she learnt in her blog post titled ‘I fear Anna Hazare? Do you?’: http://kaleidoscopicaffair.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/i-fear-anna-hazare-do-you/
So who is Anna Hazare? He was in the Army and retired after serving for 11 years. He has been given various awards by the Government for his many development activities such as watershed programs and his Model Village. This was where I realized I had already read about him years ago in a Reader’s Digest article, the link to which is here: http://www.readersdigest.co.in/anna-hazare. The reason he popped back into my mind was because of this – he condones the use of public flogging (in his case it was the men in his village who continued to drink despite the no alcohol/drinking ban that had been put into place). I remember that sticking out because in my personal opinion, I just do not like public punishments of any sort. He goes on to say that rural India is a harsh place with harsh realities and that is something I can’t argue against either. However, physically punishing a person in any way, shape or form is just something I cannot stand or ever agree with. It’s up to you to decide what to make of it.
As to the Jan Lokpal Bill, I have downloaded the most recent draft and haven’t finished reading it yet. I can’t comment on it, I can only comment on what people have said about it. I’ve already stated what I think about this whole anti-corruption legislation and the proposed Bill; how it’s not about one Bill or one piece of legislation but it’s about a change in the way of thinking and in the way of life of the people. It’s about the simple things like: returning the right amount of change, not over-charging on fares, stopping man-made inflated rent rates, selling good produce and not rotten ones, not overpricing your goods, obeying the traffic laws etc. etc. As for the technical points of the Bill, all I have to say is this – a Chairman and a 10-member council cannot humanly process and clear new and pending corruption cases and charges in 2 years!
More importantly, I’m afraid. I’m afraid that the people do not understand what exactly it is they are chanting about or shouting slogans for. Are they shouting for a man or for the cause? If it’s for a man then it’s dangerous because human beings are flawed creatures bound to disappoint sooner or later as well as being fickle that they can adore you one second and loathe you the next. We are doing what we do best and that is getting carried away by hysteria and emotions. Hysteria and emotions provide the drive and the passion but they do not provide concrete solutions. History has taught us that over and over again. It is our duty to always tell both sides of the story to the people and to stop talking down to the people. In small groups, small gatherings not large, assembled crowds that unfortunately respond better to passionate and zealous speaking. I strongly believe you can be hopeful and pragmatic but unfortunately, at least in India, we live in a land of extreme’s perched precariously on either end constantly trying to balance one or the other out. How much we decide to give into them is up to us in the end.
From inflated rent rates, to witnessing firsthand the callousness with which human life is treated, it all starts with us. If the people are not ready to imbibe the whole anti-corruption ‘mantra’ or ‘ideology’ in their own lives then what good would this Bill do? Also the chances that this Bill and the proposed body can be used for personal vendetta’s are also high; the amount of checks and balances needed will be enormous if we want to ensure that such a thing should not happen. All I can do now is sigh and see, sigh and see.
If anyone has been keeping their ears open on the news in India, you would know that our capital is at a crossroads with the arrest of the Lokpal Bill activist Anna Hazare. Thousands have poured out of nowhere to show their support for him and his anti-corruption stance. It’s strange how it’s taken this nation over 60 years to reach this point. Corruption, from it’s greatest form to it’s mildest, has plagued this nation like a virulent disease that none know the cure to. The strangest thing is that the cure was always simple but we as human beings are so incredibly afraid, lax, lazy and have the typical ‘sheep’ mentality when it comes to combating corruption head-on.
I read an article in today’s Times of India, about some businessman from Hong Kong, an NRI, who had flown all the way here to Delhi to show his support for Anna. Something he said just struck me and though I understood his point perfectly, I couldn’t help but find a major loophole in his argument as well. He said that in Hong Kong, he wouldn’t think of cutting corners on traffic rules but when he lands in India, unless you cut the traffic rules, you can’t get anywhere. He went on to give another example which I can’t recall right now. The point he was trying to make was that the kind of government enforcement that goes on in Hong Kong and in India; that people in Hong Kong would think twice about violating the laws as flagrantly as their Indian counterparts. The issues I have with this argument are:
- As if there isn’t corruption in Hong Kong! People have just learnt to hide it better and I don’t know if that kind of corruption is any better than having such obvious, in-your-face corruption, like we do in India.
- Um, so, you’re saying just because EVERYONE flaunts traffic laws in India, that YOU need to as well? This takes us back to the quintessential rhetorical question that goes something like this:-
Child: Mum, can I something-something?
Parent: No, you cannot.
Child: Awwhhhh, why?
Parent: Because something–something.
Child: Why you being so old-fashioned? Everyone is doing it!
Parent: So, if everyone decides to jump off a bridge, would you?
- If YOU know that what you’re doing is against the law, then it is up to YOU to make sure you abide by the law. That is the whole problem in India in a nutshell. You want a corrupt-free nation? Then stop indulging in ‘corruption’ in your very own lives! The more people we can get to follow this simple ‘ideology’, the more powerful it becomes. The Lokpal Bill addresses only our government, whose job it is to manage and look after the macro-affairs of our lives and nation. The micro part of it is up to us. If we want a corrupt-free nation, it is our duty and responsibility to start with ourselves. Unless we do, no amount of Bills and anti-corruption legislation is going to work.
If everyone in this nation could become an ‘Anna Hazare’ and live by his principles of honesty and integrity, truly then we will have a corrupt-free society and government. A Bill is not going to solve anything…you will make one man accountable but what about the other billion? You will make one government accountable but what about all the other parties?
Along with the ‘Anna’ fever, there was another fever sweeping across this nation last night – the Civil Services Preliminary results! It’s just so ironic that there is a fight going on to rid the nation of corruption and reform the government while at the same time, the results were out for the exams which select the very same officers who will become the machinery of our administrative system. Though limited in power often times by the government they serve and the parties in power, they still have the potential to effect the greatest amount of change with their authority, IF, they choose to. So to all those aspiring civil servants who succeeded in this first stage, my heartiest congratulations to you and wishes for success in the upcoming rounds ahead. Also with that goes my heartfelt prayer and wish that we all remember what it is all about at the end…service to the nation and the people. That’s why they are called Civil ‘Servants’.