so the TOI decided to go black and white today – in memory of the victims of last year’s terror attacks on Mumbai and like most working women, this lady too could just read the page one of TOI in the morning before leaving
Scene 1 (at this lady’s home)
She is all set to leave and just manages to glance at the TOI, and notices it all in black and white with the headlines screaming ‘It has cost Rs. 31 Cr to keep Kasab alive’
Her husband says ‘You can read more of this later, I got to go now’ and runs away with the paper
Scene 3 (Scene 2 must have been her en route to the station – I was not party to it)
We all board the train, after much of a struggle (though the coach was quite empty, I guess it is just thrilling to still make a run for it)
Lady ‘A’ standing at the door in front of me, and Lady ‘B’ standing behind me, and the conversation over my shoulder begins:
A: Did you see the TOI headlines today? “It has cost Rs. 31 Cr to keep Kasab alive’ – said. How ridiculous it is. All our money – spent on keeping him alive and here we talk about Tamatar – Rs.40 per kilo and Onion – Rs.25 per kilo. I wanted to read the whole thing, but my husband took the paper to work. He travels for an hour in that AC bus that gives him enough time to read.
(She is right; standing in the train gives only enough time to talk about what we did not read)
Me: Yes Yes! I saw it but did not have time to read it either.
B: Yeah. I saw it too.
A: We can’t kill him also – the human rights activist will shout then. All because of this tolerant Indian culture, which says – we can’t be the same as them. They can kill us mercilessly – but we are tolerant because Kasab is also a human being after all.
Me: Uh hun …
B: Have you ever been to Wagah Border? I had been there twice to see the evening parade. When at the end of the ceremony both the soldiers bring down the flags, the Pakistani soldier actually waits and lowers the flag a fraction of a second after the Indian one. And we heard some anti-India cries from across the border. Some Indian youngsters too wanted to shout anti-pak slogans, but were chided by an elder who said ‘Beta, that is their culture, but not ours, so please do not shout anti-pak slogans’
Whatever it is I am happy and proud to be an Indian.
(I wonder how she noticed it, if it was just a fraction of a second)
A: Yes. That is true. Look at the inflation in Pakistan, it is more than 100% and there are blasts almost every day. China and Pakistan have such a high defence / military budget that not much is left for them spend on their citizens. The poor in India are still better off, that those in China and Pakistan.
Me (not wanting to be left behind in the conversation): Yes. But China is not even a democracy, so there is no comparison. Indian poor are worse-off though when compared to South East Asian countries like Thailand. There are poor people there too, but the disparity levels are not so high.
And at some point the conversation veered to Delhi – I can’t remember exactly how / why or when
A: My mother in law is from Delhi and I go there often. I just hate that place. So unsafe. Her sisters who live there go to work, but wear only artificial jewellery to work.
Me: Some parts are not so bad, like where our Delhi office is in South Delhi.
B: Yeah. I remember when I was there at Palika bazaar shopping and at 7-30, we thought to ourselves (being from Mumbai) ‘Oh – it is only seven thirty’ but when we came out, the streets were empty and we could not find a rock to go to ‘xyz’ place. We took a Rick home, and this auto guy was so nice, that he got out of the rick on the way to buy bread for us, as he suggested ‘ Madam, you don’t get down – its not safe’ so he dropped us at our destination and also waiting till we reached home, switched on the lights and then drove off. He was sweet.
A: Absolutely. My mother in law also now likes Mumbai more than Delhi, so do her sisters.
B: But maybe India is truly shining; the other day I saw this man who sharpens knives on his cycle, wearing a gold chain. Even if it was not real gold, was surely a luxury for him to sport that.
Me (to myself) (yeah – sure. so much for BJP’s India Shining Campaign to which they lost the election in 2004)
The train station arrived, and we all got off, scurrying to our next destination and for some the next battle in the next local train.
leftover news from yesterday: woman in sari (read as me) seen swearing in Hindi at the auto driver; for his meter was only Rs. 25 more than the usual fare.