The Mayor and his Clean City

When  Apsomji got up at 5 in the morning partly because of the alarm bell ringing and also because of the commotion caused by his few followers who had already entered his visiting room, he knew it was going to be a good day.

Sometimes he was wary of  these followers who had been acting as his disciples, advisers and red tape, all put together. Their clamoring was so much that he had always thought of sacking them all or at least put sack cloth over their loud mouths. There was no privacy in the sense, as he could sense it from the bed room. Here he was only getting up and they were walking into the dining room now as enforcement sleuths would walk in uninvited and treat themselves to food leftovers in the refrigerator and on the table.

Still, Apsomji thought, they were needed to give him company and vet on his ideas that steamed from his head. Today was going to be a good day, as he stretched his arms, went through his yogic motions followed by the rush to the bathroom to complete his ablutions. When the warm water was falling from the geyser, he was wondering what pep talk should he be doing in front of the European delegation who were in town to gauge and most probably reward his city for its cleanliness and care of labor and destitute people.

Apsomji as Mayor for the last 2 years, had been made aware of this comprehensive clean city trust that was set up some place in Luxembourg.  Apsomji was a poor reader and whatever information he got was from his sycophant gathering of the above mentioned followers. This award specially set up for cities in developing nations, they had told him was to be awarded if certain conditions were met. On top of the list was – There were to be well-managed slaughter houses, proper waste management,  clean drinking water and no overflowing drains, no sight of child labor, no barking strays and polluting vehicles and of course presence of a few parks and gardens to counter the greenhouse effect. Apsomji was a little confused as to how a green park could counter a green house, but he left it to his intelligent team to figure out.

The past few weeks had been hectic for his supporters and people in high offices who helped him to design the itinerary and chart out the survey course through select places in the city, which would keep off-limits, the dark areas away from the sight of the trust members who had flown in 3 days back. If only he could trust them to deliver the coveted award to his city. Apsomji  and the corporation members made sure that the award committee visited few looms (hand-loom enterprises)  where  no child labor existed, a few eateries where everyone who worked was above 18 or made to look like that. A visit to a park that was renovated this year and what was previously a deserted junk yard was also on the list. Slaughter houses were cleaned up and the animals lined up and cleaned up one day in advance. Drains were covered with hard sheets and very feeble concrete slabs that would break if a vehicle went over it. All these were laid out just in time before the motorcade of the visiting luminaries went that way. All strays were rounded up or those who could not be, were chased away in such a ferocious manner that the corporators knew they dare not enter the city limits again.

Clean drinking water taps were setup, 100 in all, at various points, around 30 across the course that the award committee were to travel and visit on feet. 70 sweepers were employed on a 5 day shift and most of them were child labor. The terms and conditions read – They were to sweep the streets early in the morning and never to be seen again in the daylight. Brooms were given to them but no collecting buckets for the filth they were supposed to sweep. These should be collected as heaps, so that in the morning run, the sewage vans would collect them. Since 2 weeks, around 100 traffic policemen were given the additional responsibility of noting and chasing down vehicles with polluting exhaust.  Those who belonged to the polluting lot however belonged to the city corporation buses and these were asked to keep off the roads on the day of survey.  It was rumored that a  traffic inspector who went running after one such vehicle had his white uniform turned to black and was in the hospital wheezing it out.

The waste dumping yards, all three of them which the city had, had got a carpet of sand  over the now rotting junk. This sand would help control the stink emanating from it, as per his genius corporators. Another set of volunteers of the CLEAN CITY CAMPAIGN promoted by the corporation had rounded up the rag pickers most of them children, beggars, the old and the infirm who were seen on the streets and packed them off to a home in the suburbs for a week till this thing would get over. After his bath and breakfast, Apsomji with his followers neatly dressed went over to the corporation office ground next to which a dais had been erected to seat the award committee members and the corporators. He made sure that the newly put up dais could hold the weight of at least 20 people sitting and 20 people standing and another possible 20 rushing on to it in the last-minute by doing a dry run.

Everything looked perfect. The dignitaries, 5 of them, were to start of from their hotel on their run up passing several points in the city as per the scheduled path that the corporation had charted out for them. They were thinking of using an open jeep for the purpose but the clouded skies that looked imminent to drop tons of water forced them to use covered cabs. After all, they could always get down with umbrellas to inspect anything if they wanted to. As they had their breakfast in the hotel, there came the rain that was helped by the monsoon winds which was holding out for so long. Now with no holds barred, the pouring rain stood its ground for a full 40 minutes to register a 4 cm rainfall.

With the high tide now against the Mayor and his corporators, the drains got flooded up in no time and as the touring party left the hotel in cabs, they were witnesses to the flooded conditions of the city roads in rainy times. Out came their notepads and drainage was given a very low score. When they visited the slaughter-house, it was pouring water over the tin sheets on to the meat and the animals huddled up. The stench was unbearable, as the drains had vomited out the filth back on to the well cemented floor. They left in a hurry in a nauseating state.

The water in the roads, in the parks and the waste dumping grounds had cleared up everything that was supposed to be hidden. A cow which had a fall in one of the covered gutters just managed to climb in front of the approaching motorcade to visually treat the guests with the black coat of paint it had acquired on its legs from the drain. The city was churned up with waste with all the money invested to make it clean going down the drain. There were still a few street boys here and there with  gunny sacks on their shoulder trying to pick things that could have some salvage value from the flooded streets. Sadly, the dignitaries could not get down anywhere as most places had rising water till knee height. When they reached high and dry ground at one place, one of them got down and opened one tap to inspect. The sound of air gushing at first made him jump and then muddied water came out, all to his disgust. Grimaced with suffering at the plight of the city dwellers, the visitors rounded off the survey, half way, and made their way to the corporation grounds.

The corporation ground was in no way different from the streets. They barely managed to get themselves on the dais without water entering their shoes. The bright sunshine after the downpour did little to lift the curtain of gloom that had descended over the hosts and the audience. The results were expected to be as bad as they could get and the poor Mayor and his team had to leave the stage in disgrace. Nevertheless, they had high hopes for next year to make amends. One thing, they collectively agreed, while getting down the steps into the pool of water was – Never to invite anyone during the rainy days…

Blessings

Accumulate blessings not riches
dear love not desperate hate
sweet knowledge not sour ignorance
know yourself not about others.

Know well your nature to correct it
for we all have grey lines of fault
some seldom may point these out
some biding to take advantage of it.

These very flaws minute as they seem
take away our right to dear places
we could have so well reached
for time is a precious commodity
that can seldom be bartered.

Pure thyself by chanting His name
clothe your selves with His stories
illuminate thy self with his glory
when time is ripe for angels to arrive
be the lamp among the lost crowd.

As they take you undisturbed
to a place of peace you barely knew
with gained blessings on your crown
you chance upon His mighty throne
at His tender feet by His loving side.

Where no sorrows can abound
only carefree birds that chirp
the lovely scrolls of your Life
that got etched as you well lived
in times, good, bad and sad.

For each of us has limited time
so as you run around to make a mark
let the mark of blessing be upon you
leave no stone to accumulate it
for in the end it is all what matters.

To Him who holds store of good things
of blessings distributed to the needy
May you add to His cherished stock
as you reach him safe and sound
the ultimate heights you asked for.

Blogger Recognition Award

Blogger

I am so happy to receive this award from Krishna. Krishnapriya as I know her from her writings is one who is always thinking of the divine supreme and considers all living beings as one having the same divinity. Such noble thoughts are glorified through her poems and posts. She has also some excellent translation achievements on some of the original Sanskrit works which is the reason for me being an ardent follower of her blog in the first place.

Please check her blog: Light + Love

 My Blogging Journey

 I started blogging on WordPress in 2012 and my posts were few and far in between. I like to read more than to write and these were my only hobbies in school days. In college I didn’t write much maybe a couple of poems here and there as singing became a newly acquired hobby and then once having started to work, all this was forgotten for decades…

It was in 2012 that I started thinking of coming back to writing sessions and jumped to the WordPress bandwagon and has enjoyed my stay here ever since. I am an introvert by nature and an adhoc writer. Sometimes it could be a frame from a movie, a picture or a fleeting thought that inspires me or gives me an idea to churn it into a post. But most of the time I don’t and that is the reason I still write a couple of posts in a month. I like creative writing and mostly a short story or a poem is what you will find on Perceptions. These posts also stem  from my observations in day to day life…

WordPress also helps to connect to many other bloggers who share our reading/writing interests and help form a community of closely knit followers who regularly check upon your work and put in a comment or a like. This is what inspires, I guess most of us to write more, at least this is what works for me.

Advice for New Bloggers

 My advice for people who want to start a blog of their own would be write on things you like and would want to share with the online community. You should not start on a high note like as in a sprint and then burn up soon. I have seen people who churn out posts more frequently and get tired when they lack the initial inspiration and motivation and give up. So not only the content but how you space it is also important. Write original content and carve a niche of your own. Proof reading your work is also important before you hit the publish button 🙂

Also you need to read posts written by others., follow whom you like to get your own set of followers. You can put relevant tags in the posts that you write so that it reaches a wider audience and same way you can add tags in your reader on topics that you would want to read.

I do follow a lot of wonderful people here on WordPress and I have a voracious appetite to read at least 20 to 30 posts on a day and maybe 50  plus on a weekend. By reading as many posts of a new blogger I come across, I do try to get an insight into the mind of the writer.

In my initial days on the internet in the late 90’s I had a few pen friends and with whom I am still connected… Similarly, I would like to remember each one of you whom I follow and your writings for a long time to come.

Thanks are also due to my other followers  who have been kind enough to have bestowed similar awards to me and I am sorry I could not acknowledge them in a formal post such as this.

Blogger Nominations

As long as you churn out good content which is useful and pen your thoughts and your creative hobbies that is useful to others, I think that is what makes you a good writer and definitely the awards and accolades would follow. I am sure  some of you who read this, take upon themselves to write a post that describes your blogging journey, your likes in life and your advice to new bloggers..

Thank you once more dear Krishna  for nominating me.

 

 

 

Reach to the Poor

Pravin and Raju were friends since college days. They used to play not only lots of cricket at a nearby playground in their locality but also a lot of naughty pranks at others, such much so, that most people used to avoid them whenever they saw them coming their way. Though the general perception about them was so, there was no doubt they were good at heart. Pravin having the rare O-ve blood group was always a call away in emergencies that required his blood group, and many a time he was disturbed from his sleep by someone who was referred to his house in such cases. Raju never lost an opportunity to help the old and infirm. He was a bit short tempered but used to laugh uncontrollably at himself when someone pointed out his mistake. Pravin was always smiling when you met him and it seemed he had a solution to every problem that his visitor had, in his welcome smile.

After college, both decided to set up shops in the nearby town center, a distance of a kilometer walk from their homes. Raju set up a medical shop with his DPharm License and Pravin a Grocery shop next to it. Though both shops were not that expansive, it seemed it had everything any buyer would want when they started frequenting these shops. There were a few as I said who stayed shy away from these two shops and the owners wondering what new pranks they would play on them during their visits.

They had a fair share of critics and cynics who were not happy about how they had settled themselves in life since their earlier predictions about the duo had gone haywire and also wary about what and how they sold. This was one of the topics of the so called group who whiled away their time in the shade of a poor banyan tree who could not but help listen to all their negative conversations.

It was not that there were no other grocery and medical shops in the town and our PR brothers knew it would take some time for consumers to come to their shops from afar. Knowing that the local community would not fail them, they reposed their faith and trust in their businesses and got going. Both had stocked only the bare necessities in their shops since they did not have a big capital while starting their ventures. Having studied the buying habits of the people in their place by frequenting the other shops, whatever they had on their shelves they could sell fast.

One evening on a dark night when Pravin was about to close for the day and down the shutters of his shop while calling out to Raju to do the same, an old woman came up to him asking for a kilogram of rice and half a kilo of tur dal. She was perhaps over seventy with wrinkles adorning her features with a stick in hand. She looked at peace with herself and yet so out of place in the middle class locality. Pravin was wondering where he had seen her and it was then a fragile piece of memory dawned upon him. She lived in a small house with her daughter in law, her son having passed away a couple of years back near the playground. He had gone into their small courtyard once to retrieve the cricket ball that Raju had struck for a Sixer. She, her daughter and her granddaughter subsisted on a pension that amounted to a meager 2000 rupees as per the all knowing banyan tree group.

Son, should I go back or will you be kind on this old woman in the dark“, she said with a smile mirroring Pravin’s smile. Oh Dadi! how could I be so cruel to have turned away such a beautiful woman away from my shop, was the instant reply that came out from Pravin. Old habits die hard, he muttered as he bit his tongue. How is your granddaughter doing? “Oh, she is not keeping well, down with fever since yesterday. Only when I wanted to prepare some gruel for them was when I came to know there were no provisions at home to prepare one”, with a chuckle came her reply. Gita is also sick since morning otherwise she would have come for this.

Hey Raju, don’t close your shop yet. There is a customer for you. “Dadi do you have some medicine for their ailment or should you need one, you can ask Raju here for one, he is dying to help people recover their lost health”. As Pravin gave the packed rice and dal in her cloth bag in the dim candle light, he waited for her to pay him. She took out her small purse which had a few small denomination rupee notes and quite a lot of coins… In the dim light, since the electricity was out just as as the old lady had reached the place, she was taking a bit of time counting the notes to pay a smiling and observant Pravin. Raju having heard the conversation had come with a strip of Paracetamol and he looked to Pravin with a twinkle in his eyes.

It is okay Dadi if you don’t have enough money to pay us now. You should hurry as I sense rain some minutes away from here, and we don’t want you too, to fall sick. “It is okay sons”, she said, “I think I should have enough money to pay you” as she went on counting her notes and coins to make it tally…

What Dadi? how can your counting tally since each time you are dropping a few notes and coins, as Raju sat down and picked up a few notes and a couple of coins and gave it to her. “That is so kind of you son to have noted it and helped this old lady. I am a bit nervous and hence fidgety with my fingers”. When Raju counted back the money and handed over to Pravin his share and took another 10 rupees for his Paracetamol strip, there were a couple of notes given back to the woman, saying this time also, your counting was wrong. “Come we will give you company, give me the bag, it will be heavy for you”, said Pravin, as the trio traced their steps to her house. Would you want a cup of tea here before you reach your homes was her parting remark. Don’t bother Dadi, some other time, said they, in a single voice and waited outside till she had entered her house.

Raju you were quick to switch off the light, in fact I think you saw her before me. What is our gain today, remarked a laughing Pravin, Well, she got fifty five rupees from me, said Raju. Hmm, and half a kilo more of gram and rice from me. Each patted the other on the back as they walked back, contented towards their homes. Their well devised prank and well rehearsed reach to the poor, who counted their meager store of money in the dim light had worked out well, this time too…

Motivating Kids at School

Try and Try till you succeed.. is a good punch line aimed at school goers..but the punches are so forceful that students duck for cover..The difference between a champion in academics and an average grader can always be pinpointed to practice, talent and interest. Like the hare and the tortoise story, an average student can come close to beating a topper with consistent practice…but the question is will they last till the end (read success) without motivation..

At school, we have people who are invited as guests who lecture on the importance of studying, getting good grades allowing them to choose the best universities and so the saga continues..but looking from the student’s perspective, what motivates him or her to perform is what we are going to look here in this post…

Let us look at some simple facts here..

1. I get motivated as my teachers bestow praise upon me..

2. I get motivated when the charming girls and guys look up to me for help in studies..

3. I get motivated if my teachers regard me as their right hand in helping them out…

4. I get motivated if only my teachers could motivate me relating studies to my favorite sport…

5. If only, teacers could spend or devote some time maybe an average of an hour as to see how am I progressing and where I need correction and spell that out to me on a weekly basis..

6. If only, my parents sat with me and saw how am practicing for my exams, instead of just saying, GO and STUDY!

7. If only we friends could group together and have competitions fixed for half an hour to assess our level of understanding on the subject or chapter that was taught in the last class..

8. If only my Headmaster or the Principal knew my skills personally..

9. If only they could give me due recognition as an individual and treat me as potential athlete at a sports academy…

10. If we had monthly motivating sessions that could lift us from slumber or polish us up on lagging skills in certain subjects…

In a nutshell, motivation means all of the above and more…If my teachers knew my academic strengths and weaknesses and could sit down with me to iron these out, I know I can aspire to be an Andy Murray or a Pete Sampras