Monday, October 19, 2015

A Dog is a Dog (Article published in Hitavada on 16.10.15)

Article for middle space   sent on 16th Oct 2015
A dog is A Dog
By Jyoti Patil
Thomas Stearns Eliot popularly known as T S Eliot wrote a poem titled “A Dog is a Dog” in which he chanted:
 “Now dogs pretend they like to fight;
They often bark, more seldom bite;
  But yet a Dog is, on the whole,
What you would call a simple soul.”
 I want to say this ‘seldom bite’ these days is more often and the status of ‘a simple soul’ is in question. Yes, dogs are lovable pets. For some, dogs are more than their close relatives. I don’t want to hurt the soft feelings of dog lovers who keep dogs; some for status symbol, some for security purposes and some keep dogs only for the sake of love for the species. Dogs of rare species are very costly and might cost you in lakhs. The owners are expected to take care of them and spend handsomely on their special training, medical care and food habits. But here I want to raise an issue of stray dogs. You can find them in packs anywhere, let it be a city or a village. Sometimes they pose a serious threat to the people living in that area.
 Dog bite is not a big issue. It seems to be a common factor in city life. It started reverberating in my mind when I stumbled upon my first dog bite. I counted myself lucky till then that I never had any experience of dog bite. I always used to wonder whenever I read any incident of dog bite in the newspapers especially in public’s views column that how these people get bitten by stray dogs so often. They are such lovely creatures. I also happened to read nice articles on dogs. Dog bite never occurred to me as a subject until I experienced it one fine day at Seminary hills area during my morning stroll. The incident was a complete shock to me. I was walking at my usual pace without paying any attention to some dogs moving around. I crossed one dog who was running on the road, and perhaps on his second thought he turned back to attack me from behind and tried to catch my leg. I sensed something pricking on my sheen and noticed that a small black dog with white spots was trying to bite me hard. I shrieked to top of my voice but the nonchalant dog started trying again. Luckily a gentleman who was strolling behind me came to my rescue and the dog took a turn and vanished in the shrubs. I noticed blood oozing out from the bruise.
Then, there was the fear of rabies/ hydrophobia that captured me intrinsically. The first thing I did that day was to visit the doctor and get the shots of anti-rabies vaccine (ARV). The doctor advised me to keep a watch on that canine. “If it behaves normally the number of injections will be reduced” doctor suggested. “And if it dies in ten days, it will be a serious indication for me to get more injections.”  And it was difficult for me to enjoy what T S Eliot sang:
“The usual Dog about the Town
Is much inclined to play the clown.
He's such an easy-going lout,

 He'll answer any hail or shout.” 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Summer Inferno in Nagpur  (a Poem)

My city is known for three things mainly
Its sizzling summer, syrupy oranges and sufficient foliage
Life here is peacefully slow and slumberous
It’s fine, slow and moving, life goes on,
In poetry of the west
Summer seems cozy and comfortable
Summer is the time of infinite fun
It’s time for romance, revelry and excitement.

Oh! But for us, It is not so,
Eastern countries face the Sun face to face
Closer to the sun,
The dazzling, scorching,
And blistering fire ball, 
That you are.

In my city you look
Merciless, heartless, and unforgiving,
You appear ruthless, pitiless, and hardnosed
Making the clime unbearable and agonizing
Shading of autumnal leaves,
Scraggly looking trees,
Want of any greenery all around.
Dry brown leaves scattered on the ground
Dirty looking ground, all creepers gone and turned into spikes.

Birds are not to be seen, 
Their twittering, chirping and cooing become extinct
The koel bird sings in her piercing but ringing voice
And that is the only solace from this tough weather.
Winds become stronger, air becomes hotter,
The tar road in my city seething under duress of heat
Start melting, vaporizing, thawing like molten path
Roadside shady trees are only escape from this summer inferno.

At home and office fans blow hot vapours
The sound of coolers are heard in every house
Air conditioners are in things for well-to-do people
Which make them forget the heat
But that is only indoor comfort
Houses get warmer
All masked, scarf covered faces on the roads

But some people make hay while the sun shines
Sugarcane juice kiosks, jaljira and lemon cold drink centres thrive,
Thirsty throats, looking for chilled water,
Some earthen pots are kept for thirsty people.
Ice cream parlours doing roaring business
Kulfi thelas are thronged with heat-hunted people
 To seek some respite and relief from this conflagration,

The scorch touches some times 48 degrees,
Turning the normal life into troubled trepidation
Of turbid turmoil and feel of a dreary desert.

Ode to Nagpur     (A Poem)
O my beloved city, thou Nagpur
Thy name imprinted in the heart of India,
Situated on the zero mile
Thou whose unseen presence is felt
Even on the pages of History
Known for unseen oranges
Greenery and peaceful co-existence
Thou art crowned as most livable city in India
I feel special proud for you
For being erstwhile Capital of C P & Berar,
O my beloved city,
I feel pity of how your pristine place
Is usurped by petty politician for their selfish gains,
Where are those sweet oranges…..?
Whenever I say I belong to Nagpur
People immediately talk about oranges….and now orange-barfi…
I feel proud in thinking of thou art famous for oranges…
But where are those sweet oranges gone…
But I also wish thou markets full of sweet juicy oranges…
I wish thou to be cleaner, greener and cheaper
Roads with no potholes…
A beautiful city!!
A peaceful city!!
Thou clean roads and greener side ways
Drainage with proper sanitation
Air which is pollution free
People who are friendly and helpful,
Playgrounds full of sports activities
Gardens full of flora and fauna, a visual treat..
Public places full of social activities…
Job opportunities in plenty ….
So that the youth are not forced to leave this beautiful place..
Thou art my city, my beautiful city.

Futala Lake (A Poem)
The water seems dark and dirty,
The path seems busy and disturbed
Bubbling young couples
 Engrossed in talking intimately
Away from human misery      
There a pack of revelers
Some dogs on the pavement
Busy basking under the sun
A seller of heart shaped balloons
Finding some youngsters
Under the setting sun the rippling water
Though a cesspool of sewage and effluents
Sparkling and tossing on the shore
Water birds soaring over rippling water to catch fish,
A promise by Indian Air Force to revive and rejuvenate
I see it will resurrect like Lake Chapala in Mexico
 With its pristine beauty looks soothing to many Nagpurians.
Sometimes a horse carriage ride
With the smell of royal bright,
Sometimes Futala Lake is jam-packed
By gen-next for flash dance for some cause
Some special days like Friendship Day, Valentine Day
Even Independence Day and Republic Day
The adjoining road to the Futala is filled with young feet
Spending and celebrating the DAY with fun and fervor,
Many food joints on the right side
Offering a variety of delicacies from Panjabi bhature
To Paestro shake where the loved ones
Pass their time with gaiety and gossip
Futala lake a hot place in hot Nagpur.
                                                                Jyoti Patil

City Connexion

Jyoti Patil
It was for the first time I felt such an attraction towards my city. Attraction was in the form of an attachment. My heart bumped for my beloved city perhaps for the first time. When you live in your own city your attraction towards your city is hardly felt or exhibited but when you are away the dormant attraction turned into an attachment the moment someone takes just the name of your city.
 I happened to visit Ahmedabad in connection with some official work and got a chance to enjoy Gujarati reception and hospitality. It was really a ‘garvi Gujarat’ moment when the host took me to show all important and historical places.  When I visited Sardar Vallabh bhai Patel National Memorial, I found all those features which had been promised in the info-brochure.
 In the sprawling Mughal garden around the museum, peacocks were roaming freely on the green, giving a sumptuous treat to our eyes. We tried to go close to them to have a good look. But the big birds were smart enough to dodge us. After waiting for half an hour at the ticket counter to start the sale of ticket, we entered the museum around 11am. I was wondering whether the museum was really worth watching or wasting this much of time. But all my doubts were dispelled and proved wrong. It was well decked, well documented and well decorated museum which provided me a picturesque and point to point details of this great man and other historical figures related to him politically and historically.  
The museum, housed in Moti Shahi Mahal in Shahibaug area, had a recent hi-tech facelift on 29th October, 2013 that showcased artefacts and the belongings of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel which also included two multimedia halls that shed light on various aspects of Sardar’s life and work with interactive, experiential and historical exhibits. The original palace was built by Shah Jehan in 1622.
The feeling of satisfaction knew no bounds when I happened to read the historical details about Sardar Patel’s role in making a consolidated India even after freedom by merging 562 princely states that appeared before my eyes as virtual video with the minute details.
While observing all the historical details my eyes rested on one particular reference on one display. It was the Nagpur connection of Sardar Patel which attracted me the most to know more about it. It was about NAGPUR JHANDA SATYAGRAH between 1st May to 18th May 1923 in which Vinoba Bhave and Ravishankar Maharaj took the lead role to mobilise the crowd to agitate in support of the dignity of the National Flag.

In Apl 1923 British Govt banned on the processions sporting the National Flag in Civil Lines area of Nagpur. Vallabh Bhai Patel sent volunteers to join the Nagpurians to fill the Central jail. Vinoba Bhave and Ravishankar Maharaj were sent to jail too.  Then, Vallabh Bhai came to Nagpur to lead and with his mediation the British Govt allowed satyagrahi to take out peaceful procession along with National flag and prisoners were also set free. I got attracted and became attached to my city through its history. I read one slogan written there on the wall, “To be indifferent is neither brave nor gentlemanly, be attached”.
 Expectations and Disappointments                                      Jyoti Patil
Appeared in the Hiravada Middle Space on 13th March 2015
It is all about expectations and disappointments. It is said expectation leads to disappointment.  Our life is a pendulum between unfulfilled expectations and expected disappointments. In our tangled and twisted passage of life we expect many things from many  people. Sometimes these expectations take quirky turns.
When I came across a write up by Dipankar Shome about ‘expectations’ in The Hitavada, my memory took me to the time zone where I see everyone expecting something from the other without even giving a shred of consideration to one’s own responsibilities. Expectation is the root cause of all the heartaches. It is so natural to expect, but not so natural to disappoint others.
The boss expects all his juniors to perform all their duties sincerely. He also expects that they should wish him on his birthday, his wedding anniversary, his family members’ birthdays and special days.  He also looks forward to receive gifts on festive occasions. He also expects them to perform all his orders without asking any questions. The list of expectations is endless. This is like “love me and love my dog”.
And when these expectations are breached or broken, the real colour of the boss is out in the open. The weapon of strictures and restrictions are let loose.  When the boss expects from his juniors, they also expect something from him. A lenient handling, cooperative dealing, considerate treatment, caring and positive attitude are such expectations.
It is not only in official matter, but also outside on the road we expect fair riding from all others who are using road while we drive. Truck drivers expect all small vehicle drivers to give free pass to these big road users. Car drivers want clear road for speedy drive. Four wheeler riders expect two wheelers to follow traffic rules and use only the left side of the road. Bike riders want zigzag pleasure ride and expect all others to watch their acrobatic rides. Pedestrians know expecting any discipline from anyone will be just waste of time and they use their own whims to cross the road by following this line, ‘Grab the first opportunity you get’.  
Above all, we all expect everyone else to follow all the rules and regulations dutifully without realising our own responsibilities and duties. We expect God to grant all our prayers. We expect all the trains to run on time when we travel. We expect all our relatives to behave properly and give due respect to us.
             We also expect the politicians to do all public work as our personal servants, we also expect NMC to keep the city clean whereas we spit and throw garbage all around wherever we feel free. We expect public servants to be corruption free while we transact any business only when we accept ‘favours’ for doing any slightest work for others. Accepting ‘favours’ is something above any rule of law, this expectation is deep rooted in our psyche, some openly accept it and some expect others to do this for them.

It is rightly said, ‘Don’t blame people for disappointing you, blame yourself for expecting too much from them.’  
Article published in the Hitavada, Middle Space
                                        Dream or Dreadful Drive?                  By Jyoti Patil
                 Apropos to the Hitavada’s talented lens man, Satish Raut’s eye-catching pics of the Nagpur-Betul highway, which ignited my imagination and at the same time opened up the Pandora’s box of reminiscences. These really out of the world scenes and picturesque pathways provide a velvety experience. But it reminded me of my own recent experience on the same route. As I often visit Bhopal, more often by train since convenient trains are easily available between these two progressive cities. (But I should admit candidly, though I belong to Nagpur, in many respects Bhopal is far more beautiful and progressive than Nagpur.)
                 Sometimes I am expected to visit the city at a short notice and then I prefer to travel by car. I have been visiting Bhopal since 2005 and between 2005 and 2010 the roads were pliable, comfortable and hassle free between these cities. There were many ghats on the way with unparalleled scenic beauty, full of valleys and vales, hills and hillocks, flora and fauna, fields and grasslands, rivers and rivulets, twists and turns. Even many reserve and protected forest areas were on the way and the sight of wild animals like foxes, deer, bisons, wild boars, snakes, monkeys and different types of  birds were an additional treat during the road journey as Satpuda ranges are full of such picturesque scenes and scenery. 
                 The roads were not wide at that time but smooth to the extent that one could drive with comfortable speed.  I remember quite often I stopped on my way just to enjoy soft flowing rivulets which run parallel to the road and some times cross the road with transparent glow. Beautiful rocky terrain with rocks and pebbles of different shapes and sizes attracted me to hop over them. This road journey always made me rejuvenated and refreshed.
                 But during the recent past, the experience has been just the opposite as the roads were broken and damaged, torn and tattered, illmaintained and unkempt. It became a torturous and arduous task to traverse. The roads were so bad at some places that it became difficult to recognize the pathway. Gradually the work of four-lane of these roads started and huge shadowy trees were ruthlessly uprooted, all the natural scenes were smashed and removed. The construction work with heavy machines and excavators made the once smooth roads, into bumpy rugged trouble walk.  It turned out to be dusty, smoky and murky. The road journey became a hellish experience with jerks, bumps and wobbles. Once it took almost twelve hours to reach Bhopal for six hours’ drive. And I stopped travelling by car.
             Very recently in the first week of Nov, forgetting all the previous experiences I ventured on to travel on this road again. When I started my little tour to Bhopal, I was pleasantly surprised to see the entirely professionally erected signs and signals all along the broad, black and beautiful four-lane roads. It was heavenly. Things were all on the right track. I could not believe my eyes to experience a kind of ride with proper and perfect signals, directions and dividers. I wondered as if I were travelling in Hongkong or Singapore. The pics taken by Satish only tell the ten percent perfection of the ride between Nagpur and Betul. There are other notable things such as bus bays, truck bays, side walks, midway plantations, colourfully painted road crossings, reflectors, railings, road side facilities etc.  Green sign boards with appropriate directions were just an additional feather to already a perfect looking HIGHWAY. Oh!! What a highway! You can swiftly glide on these buttery roads with the speed of 100-150 km per hour.  Such a road was absolutely unexpected after such disrepute of these roads. But what a transformation! I was immensely happy, driving on such a smooth road. I took pics from my mobile like Satish Raut and posted them on the whatsapp with a chirpy comment “Heavenly ride…can’t believe…feeling to be in Singapore...” But the Nagpur- Betul ride was just the half way. The moment I crossed Betul I realized that the roads are not of international standard, not even the local standard. They were not roads at all. The real journey began after Betul, and in place of running, my car was jumping and twisting. The speed came to down to pathetic 0-10km. I could see rows of trucks, very heavy vehicles, cars are moving at snail’s pace to avoid ditches and craters on the roads. I saw as many as three heavy vehicles broke down at different places. Five trucks met with ghastly accidents and few cars were lying on the side of the roads all smashed and mangled. It was not a two-wheeler’s ride at all. Till Bhopal there was hardly any respite from churning and jerking. And I remember concluding lines of  Robert Frost’s  poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ it runs like this
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”