The Beauty In Men

I see the beauty in men
The beauty in those who wait,
Some wait at the airport,
Some wait for words to hit their pen.

I see the beauty in men
The beauty in those who struggle,
Some struggle to say the right words,
Some struggle to figure what is right and when.

I see the beauty in men
The beauty in those who think,
Some lost in thoughts of their own,
Some lost in thoughts of their woman.

I see the beauty in men
The beauty in those who take note,
Take note when a youthful woman is around,
Take note to set their hair right every now and then.

I see the beauty in men
The beauty of those who don’t follow,
Don’t follow when the decision isn’t theirs,
Don’t follow when love is at their helm.

I see the beauty in men
The beauty of those who don’t express
Don’t express or don’t know how to,
And yet one can see right through them.

I see the beauty in men
The beauty in those who stay,
They stay enough to build a memory,
Just enough till you can stitch the hem.

I see the beauty in men
The beauty in those who leave,
They leave until you start believing that love is naught,
Just enough till you are dressed well for the end.

I see the beauty in men
The beauty in those with ego,
Enough ego to be able to describe love,
Enough ego to abandon it again.

I see the beauty in men
The beauty in those with a vision,
Vision of a possibly perfect future,
Or a future less harmful than that can stem.

I see the beauty in men
The beauty of those who laugh,
Some who laugh like an English gentleman,
Some who laugh like that next door townsman.

What do I say of these beautiful men,
Can’t live with, cannot live without them.


Imprints of Love

“I can’t think of something to write. I need inspiration,” she said. “Look out the window, observe the passersby and watch inspiration strike,” he replied. Ever since then, she has tried to see the world through his eyes. What would he do, what would he say, what would he think. She has been in love with him but without his presence; she has seen the world he didn’t intend to show her, with his eyes. If this madness goes on, she will soon learn to love without a lover.

The Generation Nation

An ocean of secrets,
A mountain of pride,
Blooming like a flower,
But struggling with might.
A wind of change,
A wave of revolution,
A visionary’s path,
But a blind generation.
A fist for a fight,
A wing for a flight,
Yet can’t see the light,
For the screen is too bright.
A historian’s future,
A futurist’s history,
We are hung in the centre,
A bundle with pages of mystery.
To draw a line,
Or to break the barriers,
Someone please teach us,
It’s the moral conscious that matters.
Should you read anymore?
Or should you write?
Should you seek anymore?
Or should you guide?
A time either alone,
Or a time with consequences,
Pick up your weapon,
It’s a fight for fences.

Tell Me What I Can’t

To that free spirit born out of privileges,

Tell me, how does it feel to get what you want?

To that free spirit flying high, I have spirit too,

So tell me, what have you that I can’t?

When the wait doesn’t last longer than a day’s,

When what you desire has already come your way,

Do you think what must happen to the ones otherwise?

Or do you get cast away in the rejoice?

Tell me, how does it feel to be able to choose and decide?

With no holds barred and questions set aside,

To be able to make and break a heart as you feel right,

How does it feel not having to have the spirit to pass on your life?

From a spirit to another that is free and daunting,

While you stem from happiness, I stem from recurring challenges,

So show me what I can’t and tell me,

How does it feel to get what you want?

From Insight The Mumbai Local

One man alone in a crowd of around 50 or more women is a site one seldom comes across in this unpredictable city except for in the Mumbai local women’s compartment, which is the source of income for many others like Ramvijay Jadhav. An ex-athlete, what makes visually impaired Ramvijay different from others in the race for survival is his passion for self-dependency. This passion led Ramvijay to drop his final year and rather pursue his dream of participating in the 2002 Para Asian Games in Bucheon, South Korea. He humbly narrates, “I actively participated in sports during my years in school. Suddenly after getting selected for the Para Asian Games in South Korea while in college, I spent my final year arranging for money, around more than a lakh, and practicing for the tournament. Since the government hadn’t spent a single rupee back then, I had to look for sponsorships.” Ramvijay performed in running, long jump, javelin throw, discuss throw and arm wrestling and so he did with his mind being his coach, his heart being his supporter and a friend, the likes of who change with changing situations today, by his side.

Another part of his story makes for a new one altogether. He says it was the competence he gathered due to lack of support from the people he most expected it from, his brothers that drove him to Mumbai. Regular complaints from his brothers encouraged Ramvijay to shift to Mumbai around five months back, however, alone. “My wife and children are currently living in Ner tehsil (Yavatmal district, Maharashtra), not too far from where my joint family lives so that they can concentrate on their studies. I asked my wife to use her time and vision to look after our children and their studies and leave the rest to me. So I provide for them from whatever I earn in Mumbai,” he said. He conducts business with a 25 percent margin but his cautious smile explains the insecurities and risks that come with it and the earnings too humble to enjoy working in the monsoon that is upon us. However, one can’t help but be surprised at Ramvijay’s understanding of his market audience at the ground level. This expertise reflects when he shares that business has been quite slow since a few days as, since Mumbai mainly comprises of people from other cities and states, people are away on vacation this season. Not only this, Mr. Jadhav also knows his currency well. “The Rs 500 note is smaller than the Rs 100 note, so with the note’s size and thickness I can determine if the customer has paid the right amount for what he/she has bought.”

Despite the challenges Ramvijay Jadhav faces without his vision, he leads the Amravati Unit of the National Federation of the Blind as general secretary. Hailing from an economically weak section himself, Ramvijay says in a proud tone that the federation’s aim is not to give money but to empower the blind with skills that will further ensure the inflow of money earned on their own hard work. As we climb the stairs to head to platform no. 5 at Borivali station, Ramvijay smiles at my reply to the wave of ignorant commuters asking him to watch and walk. “I am used to it now. There are many people who help too. Besides I had spent a few years here before to get training in physiotherapy from Victoria Memorial School, so I am not really a stranger to Mumbai’s ways.” His story is nothing short of an example, more so for those with vision; as it is this disability if at all it is, that makes Ramvijay a leader who hopes to have his own hawker’s stall in the city where he can employ someone for assistance. Throughout my social work that I have been interested in since childhood, he says, and the little jobs that I have worked through 43 years of my life, I have always acted as a participant among laborers and workers to send across the message that I know what I am doing. “A pinch of trust with confidence is enough to get you through,” he says, smiling as if saying that it’s not all dark in behind those closed eyes.

He concludes with the most hopeful of things every underprivileged in this country asks for and that is the implementation of the acts, laws, facilities and property reserved for the blind. If this is implemented wholeheartedly, he says, we will be seen just as much a contributing section to the nation and the economy as any other privileged or able citizen. “We do not ask for anything for free, we just ask for our rights to survive.” Just as his train arrives, Ramvijay Jadhav is back into the second class women’s compartment, unpacking his goodies, ready to sell. The train leaves and echoes of his voice calling out to commuters to buy the goodies is left behind at platform no. 5.

Can technology change settled notions?

In light of the arrests made earlier last month over siphoning off of Rs 7 crore from Bank of Maharashtra in Pune and Bhayander through United Payments Interface, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s statement in Parliament on Wednesday in defense of technology is not quite convincing, even after it does stand true. The FM’s reply to Opposition leader P Chidambaram was addressed to the latter’s objection to the government’s decision of making Aadhar compulsory for I-T and bank accounts, arguing that it’d lead to increasing instances of breach of security. To this, Mr Jaitley replied saying, “The fact that technologies can be broken into can never be an argument to say don’t have technology.” Alas, instead of making a case, the argument becomes bedrock for a further argument; the fact that cash can be exploited by the privileged can never be an argument to say don’t have cash.

On this note, I would like to recall an enlightening encounter with a woman selling plums and kiwis in the Mumbai local. I bought some kiwis from her worth Rs 100 but had only Rs 500 of the revised currency. It had been a week since the cash crunch had hit the country starting November 8, 2016 when Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes were banned. Presuming that a fruit vendor wouldn’t have change, just as I was about to return the fruits to her, she produced a thick bundle of Rs 100 notes with a sense of accomplishment and returned Rs 400 to me. Surprised looking at the bundle, I asked her if she had withdrawn the notes from the ATM since PM Narendra Modi’s Jan Dhan Yojana had enabled those under poverty line to open zero balance bank accounts. “Hum gareeb ko kya karna hai ATM khaataa kholke? Humko bas ek sir pe chhatt, kapda, khana aur bachche ke padhai ke liye chahie paisa. Neend toh unki kharab ho gayi hai jinke paas zarurat se zyada hai. [What is the poor to do with an ATM account? We only need money enough for a roof on our heads, clothes, food and education for our children. Rather, those who had more than required are suffering now (referring to the impact of demonetization)],” she replied.

What led me to explore various arguments with regards to demonetization and digitization then was the sheer unintended and innocent conflict in her reply. The positive impact of demonetization had merited her struggle as a working mother, wife, daughter in a crammed, scorching city; but she seemed unaware of the transformation of this impact into a foundation of digitization, which she didn’t deem necessary to live a simple life (referring to her take on ATMs).

rural bank
Credit: Bloomberg

Transparency and privileges that come through technology for those of us literate and privileged enough to operate it, can certainly not be ignored; especially in these times of increasing “living standards” and time-space compression. But for those who have been living a culture of simplicity and necessity, partly because they cannot afford otherwise, it does not add up if this proposed change would ensure security of privacy only partly with no security and scope for progress. Yes it is to merit the hardships indeed, which the less privileged undergo, that technology is required. But if technology will only be as good as that cash which is “exploited by those who can afford it more than others”, then I don’t quite understand how it is a more reliable source of financial, political and social communication.

I welcome counter-arguments to the above in order to widen the scope of understanding.

Love of Choice and Realization

As we hugged proudly looking at the reflection of our love,
She stretched her hand out from the mirror offering me a gift.

It was a box smaller than the size of my palm,
Wrapped in pure silk, soft, calming and warm.

Its touch as soothing as the dewy edges of grass,
Its colors as enlightening as the coral reef.

The ribbons hoisted across like cheerfulness,
And diamonds that could light up the moon.

Struck by its beauty such that I didn’t belong to this world anymore,
Until I reached out to open the box and my world had hit the floor.

Reality had hit my sight with a ring and a note inside,
A corroded ring of reality in a beautiful box of deception.

One with a worn down body with a soul that looked like the box,
Another with a pretty skin with a soul that looked like the ring.

That note would determine the extent of my love for her,
“I am the ring, the box my reflection. Which one would you choose as your reality?”

An unconditional love inside, an unconditional youth outside,
My angels and demons laid in front of me, my love somewhere in between.