Slum Tours: A one of a kind experience

Slum tours? Like tours that show around the mess that people live in? Well, I had a similar perception before I read this book by Rashmi Bansal and Deepak Gandhi called “Poor Little Rich Slum”. It’s a beautiful documentation on how the people of Dharavi made it big. The city of Dreams lives up to its name even when it has the biggest slum in Asia. In the narrow lanes and dilapidated houses, people dare to live up to their dreams. But all said and done, you actually have to experience all of it yourself to be able to appreciate it. And luckily enough, Sarah, my lovely friend from Vienna came for a research to Delhi on a similar topic.

So, let’s take some time out to appreciate the small community of 50,000 people in Sanjay Colony at Okhla Phase II, Delhi. Reality tours (www.realitytoursandtravel.com) gave us the opportunity to walk around the residential colony, interact with the people and even have a sumptuous lunch with them.

Now how do you define a slum? Well we all have our individual definitions and descriptions. A Slum, for the purpose of Census (2011) , has been defined as residential areas where dwellings are unfit for human habitation by reasons of dilapidation, overcrowding, faulty arrangements and design of such buildings, narrowness or faulty arrangement of street, lack of ventilation, light, or sanitation facilities or any combination of these factors which are detrimental to the safety and health.

Let’s talk about the tour now. 80% of the funds collected through these tours are utilized in providing lessons of Computers, English and Life Skills to the slum dwellers. There are qualified trainers for these classes who indirectly become a part of the slum tourism. It was overwhelming to see their office and the classrooms. Who thought that these tours are directly contributing to a social cause? Yes, that’s what these tours are for. To appreciate and get inspired by the people who dare to dream even when they don’t get all the privileges that we do.

We all have countless aspirations. We are just greedy. But all these people want is to work hard and lead a good life. The younger generation aspire for more. You’ll never find anyone in Sanjay Colony who is not smiling. In fact they’ll proudly tell you how they get electricity all the time. The children are so delightful, playful and ever enthusiastic. In fact, the literacy rate of the place is a good 90%!

I’ll share a very cute conversation I had with one of the kids-

Kid- You’re from which country?
Wanda (a friend I made during the tour) – Germany.
Kid- Europe?
Me- Arey tum toh bohot intelligent ho! (You seem to be very intelligent!)
The kid got shy and ran away! We couldn’t help but smile at his innocence.

So, my lovely friends, if you would like to know more about these tours, the following is the link-
The link for this particular tour- http://realitytoursandtravel.com/sanjay-tour-family-lunch.php
The book by Rashmi Bansal and Deepak Gandhi- http://www.amazon.in/Poor-Little-Rich-Rashmi-Bansal/dp/9381626189
Other Sources- censusindia.gov.in/2011-Documents/On_Slums-2011Final.ppt

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Book review- Strangers with known faces

So many books release every week. Some become bestsellers some don’t. A lot of books remain underrated and of course, a lot become overrated too. Those books are written only for the mass-appeal. But, the book worm in me, always looks for the ones that would have that impact on my mind. The book that’ll leave me so overwhelmed that I’ll remember it 10 years down the line. Strangers with known faces by debutant author Gautam Dutta does that perfectly!

It’s a story of 5 friends who meet by chance at a college-event, come close and split off due to misunderstandings. Years later they meet when one of them is murdered and others are the suspects. The story deals with issues like friendship, love, passion, politics and the struggle to prove one’s worth. The book has everything- drama, romance, comedy, tragedy and action. The ending is somewhat unexpected but that’s exactly what makes the book a memorable read.

What I didn’t like was the use of very difficult and technical terms. Also, in some parts the pace becomes very slow. What I liked was the candid style of storytelling.

I would not recommend this book to everyone! Because this book is not everyone’s cup of tea. But it’s a hot cup of strong black coffee. It makes you feel something. And maybe that’s how the author wanted it to be.

Ratings-

Story- 4/5
Storytelling- 3.5/5
Cover design- 4/5
Overall rating- 3.83/5

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If just my staring makes you so uncomfortable…

Okay so, I’m sharing this incident that happened to me on this Sunday, 8 January 2017, at the World Book Fair at Pragati Maidan. Initially I thought I’d keep it to myself but it raised so many questions in my mind that I couldn’t help but speak out and share.
Now, everyone knows that the World Book Fair is a huge affair. It attracts huge crowds and the bookworm that I am, I just had to be there. It was a lovely day. I found classics at real good discounts and naturally I was excited. I was at a crowded stall where I found the Da Vinci Code for a hundred bucks from a heap of books. I leaned forward to pay the person at the stall and suddenly I felt that I’m being pushed. I’m being pushed with the whole body’s strength towards the heap of books before me! I got startled. Everyone in my position would be. Honestly, I didn’t know how to react or how to feel about the whole thing. I turned around to see who that person was and found a huge, fat man in a red jacket. I made an angry face and started staring at him. I wanted to let him know that what he did was really not appropriate. People like him should rot in hell. I moved aside but kept staring. Suddenly the man said, “oh sorry!” and left the place. He didn’t mean it of course but because I was staring he had to say something. I was demanding an answer that I didn’t get. If my just staring makes you so uncomfortable, then how can you think that I’d like to be pushed into a huge pile of books?
And people still ask me why we need feminism. Relating this with feminism? People push  even in temple queues. And those queues are exclusively for ladies. My point here is, people all over have poor etiquettes! Talking of feminism, yes, I am a feminist. Not a man-hater, but a feminist. Get you definitions right, there is a difference. I’m no preacher but I have written articles on relevant topics like women’s health and improving their social status. So yes, the fat man in red jacket ruined my mood and spoilt the amazing day for me. And what was my fault? I am a bookworm? I had come for the most prestigious book fair? Dressing? Well because its winter, I was wearing three layers of warm clothing. Inappropriate place or time? Hello! Book fair, day time, duh! You know the biggest irony of the whole situation? The theme of the book fair was “Manushi”; books by women and books on women.
I shared it with my close friends and many opinions came. “Oh you should have punched him right there!” said my best friend. “You should have reported to the police!” said the other. “Welcome to Delhi!” someone said. Like seriously? Should we make Delhi women free from now? And as if such incidents happen only in Delhi. It’s not as if I am a coward or couldn’t create a scene there. I could have. But would anyone support? Could I prove that I had been inappropriately pushed? The guy left the scene anyway. I didn’t know how to react. I still have so many questions in my mind. How can we stop something like this from happening? How can we change the mindset of people? How can we deal with the ignorance of people? Why do we not go beyond the blame game? After so much discussion on this topic, why don’t these incidents stop? Enlighten me, if you can.

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P.C. :- Pinterest

Andamans: The world away from the world

It’s not every day when you get to see something as mesmerizing as this one. The sea that looked like a huge crinkled emerald blue satin cloth, shining in the sun and flying with the wind. The dense tropical forests that cover almost every inch of the seemingly tiny islands, if you see the maps.

And if you walk across these forests and reach the other end of the island, you’ll see another beautiful beach. The beaches wouldn’t look the same when you come back in the evening. The water as if shows distinct boundaries marked with different shades of blue. Actually this shows abrupt depths of the sea bed. When you dive into the blue of the ocean, you’ll see colors! Fishes, corals, shells, sea urchins, weeds, rocks and everything imaginable under the sea.

The most amusing part of this expedition- poor phone networks! No 3G, no Wi-Fi! 2G only if you are lucky.

So, for once, why not travel without Facebook check-ins and without telling the world where you are? Keep your phone aside and capture the view. Look around and you’ll see what the world can actually offer. Trust me, it’s beyond your expectations. Travel can heal you, reform you, teach you and make you. And if travel can be like this one, well, what else do you need?

“There are times when you find yourself in the middle of nowhere. And yet, there are times, when in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.”

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The Human Machine

Everyone around me has convincingly become a machine. Buttons going ON and OFF, ON and OFF. Bound by all the rules. But trust me, if you are a good machine, life will be so called ‘stable’. You’ll get a job, meagre but stable income and a raise every year and maybe more incentives and perks.

People mould themselves to become machines. They have trained themselves to work under pressure and in every condition. Survival of the fittest, eh? But if you really think, it’s not their fault that they are machines. They want a stable income. Show me the money baby! Money is important. Money makes you go blind. It makes you succumb to all sorts of compromises and literally makes you dance to its tunes. Beg, borrow, steal, baby! Let’s become a machine for money. I’ll improve my machine overnight for a raise. And yes, all said and done, money is important.

Anyway, there’s another category of people who are different. They are the new creative hipster generation of freelancers. Do what you love, love what you do, eh? Yes exactly and why not? Explore yourself, challenge yourself. Now these people offer services in exchange of some fee which can be negotiated. It’s less initially but can improve with your reputation, work ethics and of course, the quality of service provided. But in the end, all depends on how much work you can do at a time. The more you work, the more is the pay. More service, more money. More brainstorming, more you’re able to create, more production, money. Ah! The human machine starts producing here again. Hmm! It’s definitely risky here. Being a freelancer without a stable job or income.

Hey! Have you ever asked a writer how much he earns? Or ever asked an artist how much he makes per painting? The answer would be, depends, right? On what? Popularity? Mass appeal? Promotions? Ah! It’s all so damn complex. Can we have an easier way? Something that can reduce our struggle to establish ourselves? Struggle for money and struggle for even basic necessities. Oh by the way! Something I really fail to understand is why an intern or a junior is paid lesser that what he is expected to pay for his house rent. Anyway, that’s a different story.

So well, isn’t it easier to forget about all this shit and become a human machine? Let’s become a blind follower. Life goes on anyway. Or, let’s write a story. A new fresh story. With an ending that you want. Mould it, twist it, and turn it. Turn it around the way you want. And, life can be anything.

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pc:- Pinterest

 

Love Song

I don’t know what this feeling is
Ticklish, amusing, yet mesmerizing.

Poets call it love but for me it’s a new symphony
I’m healing from within and dancing in ecstasy.

It’s indescribable, yet
Overwhelming with a certain kind of warmth

It’s tantalizing, yet
delicately coated with an unusual sweetness.

I’m afraid, yet
Optimistic with a lot of vigor

I don’t know what this feeling is
Unheard, unsung, yet makes me a better person.

It’s our love song baby,
Unknown yet unbound.

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PC:- pinterest

 

Is it cool to be rude?

Okay no fancy poems this time but I’m just scribbling some of my thoughts. I feel it is high time and people should realize this before it is too late. A few things have been bothering me since the last few days. I always thought being polite and friendly is going to get you all that you want. The right choice of words and the right tone is important wherever you go. Surprisingly, a few incidents just proved me wrong.

Okay I realize that I shouldn’t expect a lot of things especially when I’m in an institute that is famous for a lot of wrong reasons. (No opinions here! Let’s end this topic!) But seriously? Rude juniors, hostellers behaving impolitely with the salon workers, mess workers and other staff, students misbehaving with professors, people calling each other names, people forgetting the difference between being firm and being imposing, people making obscene judgements (Oh! Don’t even get me started on how judgmental people can get), everyone having an opinion just to appear cool! And why blame just the students? People in respectable positions are no different. What’s wrong with this world? Or am I the only one who’s not going with the “trends”.

I am shocked. But fortunately, I do meet sensible people who are a part of this crowd but still are different. They’re sensible, intelligent and value the better things in this world. I am thankful to them for being a part of my life and try to keep them close. After all, one should appreciate whatever goodness we get. Isn’t it?

I’ll conclude by answering the question I have raised before starting to write this. No, it is not cool to be rude. It just shows how foolish, casual, uncouth, mean and indecent you are. At the end of the day, words are the most powerful weapon. Use them wisely. Being a writer, I understand this more.

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