A Voter's diary: ELECTIONS 2009

It is election time and I just returned after casting my vote. :) This was the first time I voted and certainly isn't going to be my last. It was an amazing experience though, standing there in the queue and looking at all the faces, young and old...rich and poor. Just there to exercise their franchise... even after knowing that it may or may not make a difference... Yet they were all there.

And I was there too....Grinning away and waiting for my Mom to click, who was too scared to take a pic. She thought it wasn't allowed and kept looking around to see if anyone was watching her. It was a great feeling standing between people of two completely different backgrounds. A housewife was jovially talking to her house-maid, and asking her if she needs water, and if she is casting her vote for the "RIGHT CANDIDATE"...whoever that was.

I stay in a very "posh" colony, with beautiful houses and people with a lot of money. The area around it is completely opposite. It consists of this small belt called THE YAPRAL VILLAGE. That is where most of our household helpers and workers for petty jobs reside. Its like two sides of the same coin. This old man here in the picture below sat with his grandson, after casting his vote. He noticed I was clicking this pic, and he motioned his granchild to look towards the camera and smile. It was one of those overwhelming moments, to see this sight.

This lone policeman was trying his best to maintain order at the polling station. There was an occassional bunch of the so-called educated modern women who kept wanting to cut the line, get in and vote. They seemed to have come direct from the beauty parlour types...all shiny and prim and proper, who were too worried about standing in the sun and getting tanned :P :P ..This man, stood firm and didnt allow anyone except senior citizens and people who were sick. There was a young lady who had just got a C-section done few days ago and couldn't stand in line, she was let through to vote. I felt good about coming in to vote :)

This aunty too had come to vote, her grandchildren drove her right up till the room where she was to vote. At her age, she walked in the scorching mid-day heat and came to vote. So many youngsters, my age and older argued that it is worthless to vote. What does she get after voting?? But she still came. Would you call her a fool to vote?? WOULD YOU DARE??

These young kids were intently watching the proceedings, quitely sitting in one corner and waiting for their parents to cast their votes. The lines for males and females was separate, and no one seemed to grumble about the heat. I saw a lot of smiling faces. Maybe they hope for change and vote with the belief that their votes matter. These were some of the daily wage hourly paid labourers, who left their work for one day and came to stand in the queue and losing a few precious hours of earnings. Yet they came to vote. They looked at strangers and smiled all through...they were more than helpful in informing others about the procedures to vote and the rooms to go to.

This 11 year old was bringing water for her parents when they were standing in line, and also for complete strangers, who requested her. It was lovely to see her obliging and doing her bit in this election. She wasnt eligible to vote....but she played a part.

This is our colony's caretaker, Patel Uncle. Such a wonderful soul. He came to the polling station that was about 4 kms from our colony and ensured that all those who came to vote, from our colony that is, faced no problems at all. Just included his pic coz I felt like putting it here. Jai Shri Krishna Patel Uncle :)

This was the polling station. A Primary school. I wish I could go inside and take more pictures but I was getting a little restless too. I went on an empty stomach and was very very hungry(that is irrelevent now considering there were plenty such other people...I am spoilt :( ). I managed to see a few classrooms and I was pleased that underpriviledged kids do have some decent infrastructure in place. It wasnt as bad a government school building as I had imagined.

All in all, I felt great to have been able to exercise my right to vote. I am happy that I did. After seeing all the people who came to vote, I realised its not about expecting what the GOVERNMENT or the FOOLS WHO GET ELECTED will do for us. It may be flawed, it may be rigged, but it matters to me that I did what I was supposed to do.  I stood in line with people of various ages, speaking various languages, having various dreams... doing one single thing. Exercising their right.

Today is the first day of polling in India...so in various other states, where elections are due, I urge everyone to vote. You need to vote....you need to take that time out. You need to make it count. I think I did a good thing. If anyone thinks otherwise, they are free to think so. 

I stand my ground and I am proud to have voted.

PS: I like the mark of the indelible ink on my finger. I washed my hands after getting back home and even though I knew it wouldnt wash away soon, I was actually worried that it will go away. I feel good to see it there  :P

Forgive Yourself Now, Will you??

Why does it always happen that we know what we should be doing and we hardly take steps to do what we think is right?

Is it right then, to not take any action, while witnessing something insane and then probably having a talk about it with your mother, sister and then rambling it all out to the blogosphere?

I've been really happy lately, nothing perturbs me as easily as it used to. But yesterday I was furious, at myself, at somebody else. At myself for not doing anything. At someone else for doing what they did.

I live in a beautiful and peaceful locality. Every person who has even visited my place has said that it is pure bliss. I imagine that too. But yesterday's events just kept bothering me all night and right until this morning.

My next door neighbour is Papa's college friend. One of the main reasons why we shifted here was because of him. I have never liked him because to me, he seems like an arrogant man who only wants to do what he thinks is right and isn't willing to lend an ear to anyone else's opinion. Over the years, my mom has asked me to just try and not to lose my temper at anything that he says.

I mean alright. So you've seen the world and you are a millionaire. You claim to be a self-made man (I know you have wealth of your forefathers, stop kidding me!!). You step into my home and slam my career choices in front of my own father, who I am glad, is finally seeing that I want to do what makes me happy and he is very supportive. You tell me what I should be doing and how I should be doing. Who gives you the right to decide my life path?? Keep your opinions to yourself.

I tried to be cordial everytime, just because I do not want to ruin whatever friendship my father has with you. He respects you as a friend and accepts you for who you are. But I would like you to be away from preaching me, and telling me what shade colours I should put on my house when I get it painted, or what kind of flooring I need for renovations. 

I am disgusted.

There's an aunty who lives two buildings away, right behind my home. She talks to me everytime she needs to ask me about something, through her wash area, which falls behind my home's parking area. She supplies daily tiffins for my mom, and I have been visiting her home every morning for the last 2 years. She has a daughter as old as me, who is basically running the hosuehold.

I admire this lady. She has a whole lot of marital problems and an abusive husband. I have silently witnessed a few jibes he takes at her and he does not work. Aunty tries to make an alternate living my providing tiffins to people around the area, or catering sometimes to parties in the locality. I enjoy a lot of her dishes and everytime there's a party at home, I go to her for the bulk cooking.

She began opening up to me a year ago and telling me everything that troubles her. One day she said "Please don't think anything, I say all this to you coz you are like a daughter to me". Unable to leave her husband, unable to fight, she suffers silently because she cannot see any other way out. I have seen her cry so many times in front of me and I could never even muster the courage to give her a hug. She talks about killing herself and dying but she is worried for her only daughter.

I respect aunty for what she does.

Yesterday, this uncle was getting the whole complex painted behind our houses. Aunty is a tenant in the complex in one of the row house complex. She wasn't informed that the complex was being painted. A mason got into the wash area through the open spaces and knocked off a few utensils. Alarmed, and alone, she was petrified of who or what might be present there. Finding the mason, she said the least someone could do was inform that the building was being painted, rather than give her such a fright. 

The Mason went and complained to uncle who was in charge of getting the complex painted. He came out and flew into a rage and starting abusing aunty left and right with the choicest tirade of curses. He used such foul words in Hindi that I cannot even utter them without feeling disgusted. In the end of it he added, "You are a tenant, behave like a tenant. If you have a problem, go find some other place to live". Aunty kept talking to him saying, "Bhaiyya you cant talk to me like this. I just asked a simple question and why are you hurling abuses towards me". He didnt relent and went on and on and on.

In the end, aunty was the one who said "I am sorry bhaiyya, I am a poor person. Poor people like me dont get any respect". He didnt stop, and said  "Are you doing a favour to me by being poor?". I am sure aunty would have closed the door behind her and went inside and cried alone, like many other times. It occurred to me what she had said yesterday morning, "Its my 25th Anniversary today. We are not going anywhere.".

I was taking bath  when I heard a lot of shouting and screaming. I stopped the shower to hear better and this is what I heard. I was a silent witness yet again. A part of me said, "Get dressed, go out and defend her if you think that's the right thing to do. THAT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO!! You dont like what he said, let it be known to him that he might have earned millions, he  might be knowing the ways of the world, but he doesnt know how to earn respect.  No matter how pissed off you are, no matter whatever is going on in your mind, there is a way to treat a woman, a humility, a kind of ettiquette and language that one maintains. I have no respect for people like him."

But even after that, I refrained. I didn't go up and express my abhorration for his conduct. My father's happiness and friendship with this man, triumphed over what I thought or felt about him. I felt like a failure, for not doing what I should have been doing. For not supporting someone who considers me her daughter. I kept thinking, would I have shut my mouth had he spoken the same way to my mother?? Definitely not!! Then why did I keep mum this time?

I spoke about it to mom, dad and even sis. I had a long chat with my sister and she said to me, "Learn to forgive and forget". Well are all made that way. We forgive. We forget. But what about the person who faced it?  Will she forgive? Can she forget? 

I have seen a million tears from her eyes, maybe I'll see more. I do not know if I can ever vindicate her, but mummy says "Be thankful that at least she has someone to talk to. What else can you do?".  What else can I do?

I dont know if I was right or wrong in being a silent spectator. I may forget this someday. But this moment is a witness, that I didn't do something....and it adds up to the ever growing list of the things left undone!

Kids say the Darnedest Things :)

Yeah I know I've been away for a while. Haven't really been too busy, just been a bit lazy. Most of my time goes in finishing up a few pending assignments and didn't want to blog just for the heck of it....

Coming to the title of the post, don't you think kids today are much more cooler, smarter, whackier, sharper, blahblahblah-ber than you and me were at their age?

Why this sudden interest in things that kids say?? Well I am coming to that in a bit.

I finally had a hair cut. The summer was getting to my nerves and couldn't maintain the long step-feather-lazer cut (that's what my aunt calls it...I'm not sure what it was, but I loved it :P). I now have a full feather cut, and no I dont look like a "kabootar" or pidgeon as some of you may call.

So, my aunt runs this beauty parlour and she is the only person who I've gone to for every single thing since I can remember. Last saturday I decided I wanted to get my hair shorter so she suggested a change in the hair cut. Feather cut. After I said yes, we got down to business.

Another customer arrived in the mean-time with her 7 year old daughter. They wanted a haircut too and my aunt was busy cutting my hair (it took an hour and a half to do so...my hair length is less than half of what it used to be :( SIGH!! SUMMER!!!)

The mother wanted a U-cut. The girl snapped in and said "No Mamma, go for step cut". My aunt said to the little girl that she could get it done, and let her Mother get a haircut of her choice. To this, the girl replied., "No, I want to see how it looks on her and how well you cut. After that I will get my hair cut". 

At that age, my mom refused to let me grow my hair. Every few months, it was cut short. I think I took decisions on hair styles and cuts after I turned 16. I wondered, what would my mom tell me if I said something like that to her? :P Of course it was a different time...Tab hum masoom bachche the :P :P

The girl was wearing an poncho and every few mins she kept looking at herself in the mirror. Then suddenly she looked at her mom and said, "Mummy, Am I looking fat in this?". I dont know if I was amused or disturbed. Are kids these days getting much more conscious of their looks than their talents? Because this isnt an isolated case.

My 4-year old nephew, a few days ago, yelled out and said to me "Bua, I cant reach the wash basin. Lift me up so that I can wash my face". He looked spotlessly clean to me so the lazy me said, "You look fine, just go to tuition next door". His reaction was "Arre I need to wash my face....I need to look fair". He is, what I call, a male-version of snow white. I couldn't help but smile.

Kids these days :)

P.S : Erratic posts to continue for a while. Will try my best to read as many posts as I can. Hope everyone is doing well :)

P.P.S: I Met Renu aunty, my blog mother :) Had a real good time :)

The Legal Rights Dilemma

Should Kasab get a Lawyer?

This debate has been raging on almost anywhere and everywhere I go. And it is not just since Anjali Waghmare was appointed as Kasab's Lawyer, even before that, many lawyers had said they wouldn't take up Kasab's case.

I was watching the news last night with my family and was just thinking, should a woman be targetted for simply doing her job?? That I mean for Anjali Waghmare. Shiv Sena is nothing but a bunch of morons who have got their nationalistic ideals all wrong.

But what has happened to us? Why do we agree to the no-lawyer-for-Kasab stand?

If my personal opinion is asked, I think Kasab deserves the right to a fair trial, even though he has confessed to his crime and it is almost certain that he would be awarded nothing less than the gallows. Why do people think that he should not get a lawyer and he should simply be hanged directly?

Tell me, have you not heard of Naxals or even murderous terrorists laying their arms vountarily, and some of them being reformed? I am not saying reform Kasab. If he showed any kind of genuine remorse, I would still think it would have been a good idea to do so.... on paper. But in reality, no we will not let him be reformed even if he wanted to, coz he was among the many terrorists who carried out a heinous crime. Fair enough.

My point is NOT about reforming here. My point is, every person deserves a right to fair trial, no matter how brutal his crime is. There is a system in civilised society (if we can call ourselves that) and it needs to be followed in executing justice. Yes, I agree it will take a lot of court's time and money, which can be better utilised in solving other cases pending since god knows when.

Not to mention the media circus it would create. Someone mentioned on a news channel that media should not hype it so much and create a circus out of it, and Kasab should be publicly lynched. Now, that would not generate any kind of hype, isnt it??

I might be naive in saying so that not everyone is born a criminal. Circumstances compel them to take dangerously wrong paths, but that does not absolve them of their crimes. They need to pay a price for the crime they committed and for that, a proper system is the need of the hour. The rule of the mob isn't such a great idea. If we let them do it once, we open the door for such things to happen again.

A defence lawyer, in such a case, might best try to reduce the quantum of the sentence. Even she realises that it is already a lost battle, and yet she should do her duty. There is hardly any chance of Kasab getting anything less than a death sentence. But the sentence should be imparted in the way it is meant to be. 

Didn't we do that during the 1993 blasts? Weren't all the perpetrators caught and evidence collected against them? Wasn't there a proper trial then? Did they not have a defence lawyer?

Then why the exception for Kasab when you know he will be given nothing less than death?

Why attack an innocent lawyer for doing what the highest authority, the legal system, in your country has asked her to do?

Do you think a doctor will refrain from doing his duty, if he sees a patient with blood oozing out of every single location of his body? He knows the patient WILL not survive, but he will still give him the basic first aid.

I am not defending Kasab here. I think he deserves nothing less than a death penalty. But it should be in accordance with the legal system in the country. Yes, someone mentioned about Md.Afzal, the parliament attack conspirator,  and how he still has not been hanged.

I would jsut say that politics is such a sham in our country. They use terrorists on their agenda to degrade the other parties. But still, I would like Kasab properly tried in the court.

Maybe you would think I am delusional in my thinking and say my thoughts are not relevant. But these are purely my opinions on this matter. 


Surely would like to hear yours. 
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