Saturday, September 30, 2006


“Watchman. . . Watchman” . . . call him this way and he comes running even at odd hours to open the gate for me. Today the gate is open and my watchman is not at the gate where he usually stands. I find some space at my private parking area occupied by the watchman for having dinner. I have canteen at office and a dinning table at home. Poor fellow where else will he go? This was my gesture towards him when I got down from my bike. As I move towards the staircase which leads to my home, I hear a very gentle voice “Vanga . . . vandhu saapdunga” Startled by the dinner invitation I took few quick steps backwards so that I reach close to him. With utmost courtesy my watchman is enquiring me if I had dinner as it was sometime past 10 pm. This is what his “Vanga . . . vandhu saapdunga” had to convey. He knows I’m not going to take share in his dinner; still he had that simple yet hospitable attitude to ask me. I have been in this apartment for the past one year. I cross the gate (also the watchman) at least twice a day. But I never had the cordial nature even to smile at him. But today he thought me a strong lesson. In a quick jiffy I’ve learnt to WATCH the watchman as a MAN.
“Time as he grows old teaches him many lessons”
I’m learning . . .

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Journey (Search) Begins. . .

It’s a dark evening and the train has just pushed itself out of the station, moving slowly towards Chidambaram. Kadhir in his rugged attire runs along the wooden fence adjacent to the railway track to catch the train. He doesn’t know where this train is going, but he has to board it. He breaks open the fence at a point and with blind courage jumps to catch hold of the train door. He is aboard now. The train is picking up its speed and he finds his way into a coupe. This old modeled compartment looks very unusual to him. A small room like compartment partitioned into two with a bed on the other side. Kadhir was scanning the coupe with prayers that he shouldn’t be identified by anyone. He just raises his feet to have a look at the other side of the partition. He finds an old lady sleeping with medicines around her bed. Kadhir sighed with relief. He makes up his mind that this would be the safest place for him until he finds a way out. He turns around closing his eyes resting his back on the door. Kadhir was meditating upon his past. All his essential parts had relaxed by now. Still his mind was at unrest. His heartbeat was above 80 per minute. His eyes are still closed tight. There is no other sound he could hear except for his heartbeat and the galloping horse power of the train. Silence is golden. Kadhir realized it today. Amidst this blissful silence he smells someone passing by him. Slowly he realizes someone moving around watching him but he is not ready to open his eyes. He fears reality. But then he has to wake up. He builds up strength within himself to tackle the immediate reality. Kadhir with all his false energy takes a vivid yet rustic turn with angry eyes to encounter the new person. The train has reached its top speed, but kadhir stopped just to see a nightingale cross him. A familiar face but not an acquaintance, a nurse in plainclothes with medicine in her hands reaching out to help the old lady in bed. Kadhir is stunned by her patience. Questions popped up in his mind as she never minded his presence. Her blank eyes and energy less walk seemed as though she was never bothered about a stranger aboard. Kadhir has seen her many times before. She looked like a girl next door. He is speechless. But she has already started conversing with her eyes, instructing him not to panic but to relax. He abides by her command. She is busy attending the old lady and he quietly watches her do the nursing. They know each other just by their face. Otherwise they are total strangers. Still a mutual understanding helps them both move along without hard feelings as the train races towards its destination. Mid-night has jus passed. Kadhir is still standing on his legs with his back resting on the door. The old lady is fast asleep. The silent girl moves slowly around a table trying to give kadhir a hint to have his supper. Few pieces of bread a half filled bottle of water was all that the girl had to offer him. But kadhir wouldn’t budge from his place. He is glued to himself. She too doesn’t want to disturb his tranquility. She switches off the light near the old lady’s bed and reaches to the partition near the door side with her carpet. She gently spreads the carpet which nearly touched kadhir’s feet. Without showing any sign of sleepiness she hurriedly lies down in the carpet with her hands as head rest. Kadhir stood there watching her close her eyes. Few minutes later she slowly opens her eyes. In the gentlest possible way, without much physical movement pointing to the space between her feet and the door, she utters her first few words to kadhir, “Innum evlo neram than ippadiye nippa? Ippadi ukkandhuko” Saying this she goes back to rest. That was the most comfortable and soothing voice kadhir had ever heard in his lifetime. The surprise and softness of her voice was still swinging in his eyes, when he finally sits down near her foot admiring the sleeping beauty. It will dawn in few hours from now. Kadhir will abandon the train as it reaches its station. But I feel that kadhir’s journey; his search for life will begin there.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Lets Grow Together !

It has been quite sometime and I haven blogged my mind down for a long time now.

What’s going on in my mind? The thought process is varied, wide or focused? Vague ideas, naughty notions, passionate dreams rule my mind now. This phase seems to be quite interesting making me think only what I want and barring other thoughts. Incidents and experiences are the real teachers for life. Time as we grow old teaches us many things. I’m learning everyday. Looks like Bala will turn Buddha one fine day? No says the world around me. We won’t let it happen. We need people around to survive, to grow, to learn. All these need mutual acquaintances around to make the process interesting. So I’m here to stay, to teach you, to learn from you, to make you grow as I grow along with you.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Top Cop - The ONE !

Top cop, prolific writer, meditation junkie, doting mother - there are many sides to Kiran Bedi. Vatsala Kaul meets the woman behind the uniform June 1974, Bara Hindu Rao, Delhi: Seventeen women and children are trapped inside a haveli in the Walled City in Old Delhi. Rioters have set the building on fire. The only entry is up in flames. The IPS officer in charge asks the head constable to break open the gate; he balks. Then she moves in a way that is to become her trademark. Sitting under a hand pump, she drenches herself and smashes the gate open with a kick. The other policemen imitate her actions and soon everyone is safe. Kiran Bedi has been tested, literally, by fire and she has passed. She's 'madam' now. And soon, she is going to be addressed only as 'sir' - her gender forgotten, only the police officer in evidence.Now, three decades later, Dr Kiran Bedi, former Special Commissioner, Delhi Police, is uncharacteristically flustered. Her BlackBerry has gone kaput, taking with it her address book. "What is this tamasha?" exclaims the 56-year-old. "It is writing 'abcd' on its own!" She darts from one room to another, switching off the fans and lights as she goes, jabbing away at the unresponsive BlackBerry. Trophies and shields are displayed all over her Talkatora Road government bungalow in New Delhi. "Each is a memory, each symbolic of an internal victory," she says. There have been many accolades - including the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the UN's Serge Sotiroff Memorial Award for drug abuse prevention and two honorary doctorates, one from Guru Nanak University, and from the City University of New York's School of Law for prison reforms. There is also the current 1000-strong global list of women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize of which 91 are Indian - one of them is Bedi.Bedi has been up since 6 am. She has meditated and worked out in her personal gym. It's a rainy morning and she is looking for a shaded spot in her garden where she wants to be photographed. While everything about her is crisp and clipped - the signature pathan salwar suit, the neatly buttoned-up jacket, the close-cropped auburn-tinted hair, and stolid black sandals - there's restlessness about her, like a chef dicing asparagus on a television show. But she laughs a lot, and her face softens in a trice when a car drives in with her daughter Saina - she calls her 'Guchchu'. "That's a cover picture, now that's really glamorous," says Bedi, the doting mom. Saina could well be the inspiration for Bedi endorsing jewellery from Nayaab Jewels, a Chennai-based company, who contacted her last year on the recommendation of her friend Leela Poonawala, while Bedi was posted in New York as the Civilian Police Adviser in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Its print campaign shows Bedi in uniform, a sparkle in the background.Bedi doesn't like to pose, but has never really been camera-shy, often courting the limelight. "She was always media savvy," says Gautam Kaul, member (full time) at the Public Grievance Cell in New Delhi, whom Bedi calls her mentor. Bedi trained under Kaul, then the SSP, North Delhi. "At 5 pm in West Delhi, she would be out in full uniform, pistol holster in place, leading a posse of 15 policemen, patrolling the main road, making roadside gamblers and bootleggers scurry into the shadows. It was like a movie, it looked great on camera."The quintessential pin-up police officer, Bedi's unconventional methods turned the existing approach towards crime and criminals on its head. But not everyone was thrilled at her lack of deference for those in power. While many magnified her into a hero, some labelled her an attention-grabber. "Kiran proved that crime control is officer-centric, but she paid a price for it, depriving herself of the pleasures of a family life," explains Kaul. Bedi has no regrets, though. "My family kept pitching in, coming in exactly when they were needed, because they knew this job is what I had grown for," she says. Husband Brij Bedi, a businessman based in Amritsar, agrees. "She was always on call. With her job it would be foolish to expect her to look after the home," he says.Bedi's most talked-about posting was as inspector general, Delhi Prisons. She turned Tihar Jail into a model for reform. It won her worldwide acclaim. Her seminal work on prison reform, It's Always Possible, was published in Italy, Indonesia and now also in America. Her other two books, As I See and What Went Wrong¿ and Continues, based on her experiences, continue to be quickly picked off the shelves and I Dare, her biography (released in 1996) was declared by India Today as the biography of the decade in the 1990s. But if one ran the 'bookshelf test' to graph Bedi's interests, it would be cleanly divided into spirituality, leadership, sport and human values. There's not one work of fiction, though as a young girl she liked Ayn Rand. "That's a stage of life... one can sometimes overstretch a stage." She shows off her collection of spiritual books - the Vedanta Treatise by Swami Parthasarthi, and her favourite, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait. Bedi harbours a dream of going into a spiritual retreat, "to be one with nature and the divine". But even she knows how far-fetched that sounds. Even when she retires from the police in 2009, even if she chooses to live at her farmhouse in Haryana and cycle to Damdama Lake 7 km away, she is likely to be found working away at one of the many causes close to her heart - surrounded by her books, laptop, spiritual music, mobile and newspaper of the day. And some prunes to eat when hungry.