Sunday, January 22, 2006


She is the only lifeline people have here. She keeps this place running. She has got everyone addicted and no matter whom you are, be it the big boss or a dailywage worker, you have to knock at her door every now and then.

My first day here at this place and Wasim took Manik and me around for orientation. According to the company policy you have to take a safety orientation of the place where you are supposed to work. Reason: If you get crushed/hammered/any other of million scary things that can happen around here, you can not tell that the devil never warned before hitting. Essentially it means know what the place is, what the work is, what the hazards are, who all are the people around, where you can get all the help you need and all that you actually need to know about the place. They also tell you that the beach is around the corner and also that on the next corner awaits Tsunami. Well, we can leave some corners unexplored.

“Now the most important part of the orientation” said Wasim after the round of the place. “This is our little canteen and she is Lakshmi”. Lakshmi lookes like any other girl I had seen in this part of the country. Short, slim, dark and a traditional outfit. “Lakshmi tea please”. I finished the cup of tea at my galloping pace and never even realized how important this small little ritual is going to be in the near future.

Lakshmi, tea, coffee, sugar, milk, no, yes, one, two, half makes up most of the conversation that involves Lakshmi. Yet she serves people from many nationalities and makes all the kinds of teas and coffees possible. Every one likes all her coffees/teas. And everyone understands that even though she only understands Telugu a polite thank you is always welcome and greeted with a smile.

It’s a small steel container which substitutes for a kitchen and an electric kettle is the all in one oven and teapot. She is the heartthrob of all around here. In absence or even in presence of any other girl (which by the way is very rare) it’s Lakshmi who takes all the flirting that happens around. Of course she doesn’t understand what the guys say but she knows that no one means any harm.

As the place runs seven days a week so does Lakshmi’s work. People never even notice if a big boss/an engineer/a specialist/any other person is gone for a month but everyone here is effected if Lakshmi is not around for one day. You can see many lifeless bodies moving around missing that much needed cup of tea. Even the tea that driver gets from some tea stall from the town won’t help. It’s the magic of Lakshmi’s hands that keeps running things around.

Last but not the least don’t forget to give her a tip once in a while. You will get to taste some of the best offerings from Lakshmi’s kitchen.

In search of energy sources down the earth all these souls almost run on the energy of Lakshmi drinks. Cheers to the taste that is not lost in translation.

Monday, January 09, 2006


It was a simple plain white board hanging on a simple plain wall. It still must be a simple plain white board hanging on another simple plain wall. It was there next to the dining table. Like any other white board, smooth, shining, a steel edge etc. It was our menu board.

After shifting in this staff house I had seen all those names of dishes appear, disappear and reappear on this board. After a month and half, not only was I feeling a bit tired of that yellow dal (which very notoriously kept appearing at every meal!!) even the board seemed tired of being a ‘Menu Board’.

That day I had this big argument with the supervisor over that stupid yellow dal. It wasn’t really an argument. I spoke, shouted, made a point, thinking that I had made a point tried to make another one and on and on. Supervisor just said ‘Yes’ and sometimes to break the monotony of his replies a ‘No’.

It was still sometime before others would come for dinner and I after that one sided argument decided to do something regarding that menu board.

I had a permanent marker. Got it from the room, relieved the board from the burden of the menu and scribbled incoherently on that board. End result looked something like this:

Thot 4 d day:
“If you don’t want to live please die, but let others live.”
Need of(f) d day:
1. Days of(f) peace
2. Please stop making yellow dal

It was January 05. The mistake I made was I told the supervisor that the board could be cleaned using kerosene/diesel/petrol. Before an hour passed I found that little board was shining white once again. This time I asked for a marker from the supervisor and told him that from now on the board will be used as graffiti and not for writing menus. I was shouting and it had its effect. They didn’t do anything to my graffiti. Next two days went smoothly and I changed the incoherent thoughts on that board daily before dinner.

January 06:

Thot 4 d day:
“If you can’t score centuries get others run-out before they score more than you.”
Prince Ganguly (fully supported by Mian Haq)
Tip of the day:
Listen 2 d “sounds of silence”
Attraction of d day:
Laughter Challenge, 10 pm, StarOne
Request of d day:
Everyone is invited to add/write (of course if u can find/make space)

January 07:

Thot 4 d day:
If a referee shows u a yellow card, don’t throw ur arms around. He has got a red one in his pocket.
If an umpire gives u out (even if u r not), don’t make faces. Match referee will take ur match fees.
Remember it can be worse
Tip of d day:
Its gud not to make sense sometimes. Its better not to make sense all the times.
Request 4 d day:
I hope u remember yesterday’s request.

“Titanic never saw daylight again”, that older version of Kate comes to mind when I think that my Graffiti never saw another dinner again. When we returned from work the next day the board was gone. “Sir, our manager came and took it away”, supervisor informed me. Why? “It is only for writing menu”.

A cup of tea and few samosas later I looked at that empty space on the wall where that board had been. Two nails happily stood tall relieved of the burden.

Some other day, some other time I will think about the board and will decide how many more days would I have continued with my graffiti. But today we all missed those few words which I just scribbled without thinking and others rarely noticed.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Where is the Journalist?

There used to be pen in their hands. It has been replaced by mikes. They used to have a writing pad to scribble the world onto it. Now they have those recording machines. They used to think and ask and hear and write. Now they don’t think and ask and don’t hear and ask again. There used to be camera dangling around their necks. Now they have a cameraman and a video recorder along. They used to observe and wait and observe and click. They used to click moments and bring out generations. Now they don’t observe, the cameraman tries to capture everything which he can, they record life and bring out chaos.

A soldier died fighting for his country. He was a Major. His body is brought to his native place. They are taking him to the cremation grounds. He was the only son of the parents. They are mourning him but they are proud. Their son has lived as their son but he has died as a son of million mothers. He was a son of the nation.

The make up done, the mikes ready and videotape rolling, this young lady who looks more like ready for a walk on the ramp is ready for her interview of the life. That Khadi Kurta fails to make her look like a Journalist.

Ms Reporter is in the frame. The mother of the “News Item” is silently following her son in his last journey. With a smile on her face the reporter blurts out the question from the list provided by the producer. “How are you feeling right now Mrs. …..”. A tear rolls down the eyes of the mother and she moves on.

How would a mother feel after loosing her son? I guess on top of the world!!!

Where is the mind of the journalist?

In Bangalore Prof. M C Puri from IIT Delhi has been killed when someone started firing outside Tata auditorium. The news has been on air for some time now. And in less than 30 minutes the “Journalists” are their in front of the Professors house. They would not have cared if he had invented new theories for operations research. But now he is a ‘News Item’. After all they have to keep their channels running 24 X 7.

The guy in a well made suit, with a polished accent is proud like he has won a gold medal for India in Olympics as he asks “Hello Pradeep. Can you hear me? Pradeep tell us how is the atmosphere in and around the house of …ummm…. ummm…. Prof Puri.”

How was the atmosphere in his house when his old man passed away? They must have danced whole night.

Where is the culture called Journalism?

It has become a war among channels. They hide cameras in people’s houses and call themselves Tehelka. They care more about Shahid and Kareena kissing then they care about Manjunath’s being killed. They print 40 pages of newspaper. The news in those 40 is less than 4 pages. They care about selling News Items than bringing news to the ‘Junta’. They run factories. They manufacture news. They don’t want to bring the truth of what is happening around. They just want to be the first to bring a News Item to you.

A pen used to be mightier than sword. They don’t fight with swords anymore and pen I guess can’t compete with bullets and bombs. The pen is lost somewhere. The might of pen is lost somewhere. The hands and minds that used the pen are lost.

Where is the Journalist?


Sukhdev Singh is milking a buffalo when I call him. We are speaking after a long gap. His voice carries the same cheerful energy I remember....