Archive for July, 2011

It suddenly occurs to me that I’ve been blogging for as long that I’ve been married. As with many other things, it was my dear friend AM who introduced me to the wonderful world of the blogsphere in November 2005.

Like her, I first began blogging to practice on my craft as a writer. We started off as a close community of writers on Yahoo 360 – there was AM, SB, AW, L and SS. Not only did I write much, but I also get wonderful feedback on my work from fellow writers who I admired.

Yet I am also a very private person. So this blog has always reflected ‘me’, but not the most important events in my personal life (at least not till I am ready to talk about them-and that could be never). In fact, I’ve worked very hard to keep the personal and public spaces very different. So more often this blog has most reflected my interests or the causes that move me.

But then posts petered down as I got busy with my book. Then cinema moved out of my blog to my column on Citizen Matters and Facebook took over. Yet I kept pushing myself every now and then to make the occasional blog post.

But today morning a blog post from AM said that she was considering hanging up her blogger’s boots. The reason? She just didn’t feel like blogging anymore.

That’s when I realized that I haven’t felt like blogging in a long time now. When I do, it’s more an act of discipline than an act of love.

I don’t feel like blogging for a variety of reasons. The most important one perhaps is that my favourite subjects, which is cinema, has moved to Citizen Matters. I’d like to focus on that a lot more. My work on my books also takes up a lot of my time as well. But mostly importantly, I am not very comfortable about talking about ‘me’ right now and important changes in my life on a public space. So I have nothing to say.

The community of writers that I depended upon has also moved away from the blogsphere into various forms of social media. I do have my trusted inner circle in NG and AM… But I don’t need a blog to share my writing with them.

I still see blogging as a tool to create a great community. But I would like this community to be around areas of interest and not ‘me’. So it seems like a good time to retire 101dreams and replace it with multiple blogs around these areas of interest. And then maybe I could take a break for awhile.

So I am thinking about it… And more on that subject when I have a plan. But this time, my head will be in tune with my heart 🙂

The middle path

Posted: July 20, 2011 in Life and Living
Tags: ,

I have never understood infidelity,
Or the balance of the middle path.
The truth of love,
Coated in the convenience of deceit.

Where lies the courage in breaking all the rules,
When you agree to live by all of them?
Who drills a death-hole into the foundation of an enclosure, while building its walls?

Is it courage or cowardice?
Yet you revel in the new-found novelty of old convention.

When I love,
Let it be honestly, openly, madly,
Completely,
In nakedness beyond subterfuge.
Fearless,
In love as in life.

Yesterday I happened to see an old blog post from AM that talked about the causes that she would consider campaign about (if she had been the campaiging type). This got me thinking about causes that would move me enough to make me want to live or die for them.

While I am not a the ‘campaigning’ kind of person, I am most certainly the ’cause’ kind of person. And sometimes a cause inspires me enough to get me to campaign for it.

So here’s my list…

  1. Equal opportunities for all: The inequality of the world we live has always bothered me deeply. I wouldn’t mind devoting my life to making career opportunities for people from poorer socio-economic backgrounds.
  2. Giving back to the Earth: Another one that I believe in strongly. I don’t just want a campaign to to protect the Earth, I want a campaign to give back to the Earth. I believe that each of us must leave the world a better place than we found it.
  3. Self-reliant women: Somewhere along the way, humankind seems to have begun to believe the myth that women are the weaker sex. I would like to start a campaign to remind women of their strength.
  4. Protecting and growing Bangalore’s heritage – architectural and natural: Most people who know me wouldn’t be surprised to see this one on my list. There was a time when this particular campaign even haunted my dreams. So I am only surprised that it doesn’t stand higher on my list.
  5. Corruption: It has never angered me that India is a poor country as much as it has that we are a corrupt country. And then, perhaps if we were not so corrupt, we would also not be so poor??? 

It was just another evening of commuting from Kammanahalli to Koramangala. The auto driver hesitated for a moment and then nodded. I jumped in.  

There was another momentary pause as he wondered whether he should take a left or right turn. Like most Bangalore roads that run in circles, both ways would lead us to our destination. He opted for the left turn. I did not object. He turned the metre down, and we were off.

But my auto driver’s choice of route meant that I was visiting a Kammanahalli that I had not visited for the last five years at least. Nothing could have prepared me for the ride ahead of me.

When I was child, Kammanahalli was considered the back of beyond. It was not a ‘happening’ or an extremely rich neighbourhood. But in a city where most people had houses that were large and life was easy, neither was it heartbreakingly poor.

About a decade ago, the loud reverberations of the information technology boom could be heard in Bangalore. Like many other localities that rose up to meet the needs of our fast growing metropolis, Kammanahalli slowly changed from being somewhere in the ‘back of beyond’ to ‘happening’. Swanky brands, cool restaurants and the well-heeled made their appearance. And with them came a new demarcation.

Yes, there was the Kammanhalli of bright shining lights, beautiful houses and nice things in abundance. But on the edge of this nouveau rich respectability, the old halli (village) still lived on. Only it was older and poorer.

My autorickshaw’s choice of path now took me to that Kammanhalli. Most of the single houses on its narrow lanes had been converted into three-storey structures that housed at least six families. Garbage was everywhere. Someone had shown the foresight to plant trees here, but even they were covered in grime. The halli that once happily overflowed into an open railway track was now hemmed in by a bridge. It was the bridge that both cut it off and hid its poverty from the rest of the world.  

The city had grown rich, but it was a stingy millionaire. The halli had not shared in its new found prosperity.

The autorickshaw driver made his way expertly through the narrow lanes and over the dividing bridge, even as the madness of Saturday evening traffic closed in from all sides. But the autorickshaw driver moved with the familiar ease of one who travelled in his own world and knew it well.

At the Bypannahalli Railway Crossing, he was brought to a halt as the railway gate was closed for an incoming train. This shortcut connects Kammanhalli and Indira Nagar ever since I can remember, and inevitably fails you on the days when you most need it because the railway gates are down for a passing train. But a good Bangalorean still always takes a chance 🙂  

This evening too the Bypannahalli short cut failed us. Commuters in cars chose to take a U turn and travel by the longer path. But the autorickshaw driver did not have that luxury. So he waited with resigned patience till the railway gate opened 15 minutes later.

By the time the railway gate opened, traffic stretched back as far as the eye. We edged towards the narrow opening in bumper-to-bumper traffic and finally made our way out.

The now familiar sight of Indira Nagar’s new shiny glass façade, displaying the best global brands hurt my eyes that evening. There it lay, sprawled out in luxurious opulence, completely indifferent to the grinding poverty of the halli. In a couple of minutes, we reached nearby Koramangala, which also basked in the happy glow of Bangalore’s new richness.

Both Koramangala and Indira Nagar had always been residential localities for well-to-do Bangaloreans. Now they were home to the cities information technology factories, with homes and shops for workers employed in these concrete jungles.  

So why had the city’s newly acquired wealth found its way into the richest localities and completely bypassed the poorer one? As Bangalore booms, why have the poor never seemed as poor as they did today?

We had reached our destination by this time. I paid my fare and was about to leave. A girl approached. “Forum Mall jaana hain bhaiya”, she demanded. At the mention of Koramangala’s big expensive mall, pat came the standard reply, “30 Rupees madam”.

He had charged me by the metre. But I guess he figured that if you could shop in an expensive mall, you could also pay ‘double metre’.

Yet when I thought of our long ride from Kammanhalli to Koramangala, I almost sympathised. Only someone who has experienced deep grinding backbreaking poverty can understand it.

So the next time I hear “double metre maddaam”, I will not turn my back in anger. I will reason it out with him till we arrive at a mutually acceptable solution. I will not let anyone take advantage of me. But let me also not forget to be guided by the spirit of generosity.   

“Double meter” does not always mean that he is a crook. “Double meter” sometimes just means that he is poor.

It’s also true that until the money from the new Kammanhalli finds its way to the halli, we will fail in our dream to create a beautiful Bangalore.