The Walled City, Over the Decades

The black and white photographs of a city can speak a lot of how it has grown over the years. This picture of India Gate, taken a few decades ago, amazes me to see the barren lands around the then Delhi while the same place now is buzzing with lakhs of people gathered for the IIFA.

Note: This is a post of fiction. 2 Dehliites narrate one of their personal tales of something significant, from their lives in Delhi.

I am Manas. I come from a village and my forefathers have been into pottery. The image below is an old photograph of a potter selling pipes and pots on one of the then Delhi roads.

Perhaps, one or more of my forefathers spent their lives on the roads like this seller in the picture. With the business line in my blood, I ventured into a new start-up a few months ago. During the initial days, I lacked technological and financial support. In spite of an inspiring idea I had had in mind, I could hardly get anywhere near to manifesting it into reality. That’s when Vodafone’s Ready Start-Up Kit gave me a timely lift. From business development to customer support, my start-up was given a tap at every stage. Start-ups in Delhi-NCR today are privileged is what I would say. There is an intuitive understanding of what people need in this city and that’s what brings about radical developments here.

I am Anupam. I’ve lived in Delhi all my life. Born before independence, I have witnessed every little change that this city has seen over the decades. From my memoirs about the city, what stands out is the trams that I used to travel for half an anna to Sadar Bazaar. The most exciting adventures of my childhood days used to be jumping off the moving tram and getting back to it 🙂 With increasing city traffic, however, trams were stopped in the early 60’s. And today, we have the Delhi Metro! Of course, it is air-conditioned, sophisticated and soon shall be automated; however, what impressed me about the Delhi Metro is its ‘World’s First Green Metro’ recognition. It is built on eco-friendly principles, helping the city to conserve energy. While trams were discontinued on the account of urban transport, here’s Delhi Metro which has reversed the situation after four decades. It’s initiative to tap the solar power for its operations, will reduce electricity consumption by one-third.


My Gadget Re-sale Adventure!

The present generation do not value money as much as we did in the 1980’s. While Re. 1 was a valuable amount to us in those days, my daughters easily spend a few hundred Rupees today without any second thoughts. That is how they got me a new tablet, for what purpose, I really couldn’t understand. Well, it is their expression of love and the wanting to give their best to mom. Of course, I cannot deny the secret excitement I had in my heart when the tab arrived. It was definitely interesting in the first few days to explore the new one’s features. However, one thing that hasn’t settled at all in my mind is, “What do I do with my old Nokia mobile which had introduced me to the basics of telecom technology? Did I forget to tell you, it was my possession for 8 years; a time period which none of these youngsters’ smart phones can last for!

My daughters gave the least thought about my old phone. “Amma, keep it safe or give it away to someone for free.”

Free? 😯

I still bargain with roadside vendors; so you know how much of stringency is rooted in my blood. I began thinking of the ways to sell it. Initially, I wasn’t aware of the sell/buy websites. I would sometimes inform a provision walla, or the flower vendor that a basic Nokia phone, in good working condition, is available for sale. All that they expected of me was, “Memsahib, will you give it for free?” To their eyes, I was an upper class woman who can afford giving away a phone worth of Rs. 500 (too much?) for free. However, as a person who has lived a hard life to reach an upper class living, I know how valuable is every Rupee that comes to my purse.

My daughters, tired of hearing me whine about the resale of the old phone, prompted me to try in a couple of websites. For the computer savvy in me, identifying icons from the top right and bottom left corners are quite difficult a tasks. Sign-up is another complicated task for which I will have to open a new tab to check my email for the sign-up confirmation. You might think what simple a process this is. But to an old lady who heard about computers at the age of 55, it is no fun. I often get confused where to click while shuffling between the tabs. So, I always refrain from having more than one tab open at a time.

Well, coming to the sell/buy website, I did manage to create a login. Now came the never-heard-of step – Post a picture of your product! I do know how to click a photo with my tab and am quite good is sending it through Whatsapp. But from Whatsapp, how do I transfer to the website? If you read this question twice, you can understand my technical understanding. So, I unofficially hired a school boy who lives near my home to help me transfer the photos from my tab to my computer. I know it went through a cable, but what he clicked to open what – I was clueless. The good news was that I had the photo of my dear old phone now in the PC.

With much reading and re-reading, I managed to post an ad – it felt like a celebration! And there I was, awaiting greedily for someone to buy my phone. I assumed hardly anyone would be interested in the old phone. However, to my much shock, I received message after message, multiple times of the same messages and back to back phone calls. Becoming nervous, all of a sudden, I avoided attending calls. Most messages had an offer price of Rs. 1000 to 2500. At first, the greedy woman was swelling in joy that what I thought can fetch me Rs. 500 is on demand for up to Rs. 2500 🙂 But, in time, after reading a few messages, I realized something wasn’t right. I was terribly afraid, of what, I don’t know.

I immediately dialed the emergency number – my daughter’s! After hearing a piece of her mind for having goofed up over the internet for the nth time, I begged to her to have a look at my ad and identify what went wrong.

In a few minutes, she called me. “Amma, you have posted an ad for buying a used Nokia phone!” 🙄

So, there ended my attempts in the gadget reselling adventure! 😦

I remembered this particular incident today while reading an article about Cashify, an online gadget re-selling platform. Unlike other sell/buy sites, Cashify does not demand you to post an ad and wait for a deal. Instead, on the basis of the details you give about your used mobile/laptop/TV, Cashify informs you of a reasonable estimate of the item. If you decide to go with the quoted amount, a Cashify employee shall pick your item on sale at your door step and hand over the accepted upon cash amount to you immediately.

I went through the Cashify website. It was super easy to navigate through the site, even to somebody like me; that means any Tom, Dick and Harry can now sell their used gadgets online in a few seconds. Check the video below:


The Delhi Dreams!

Times change, people change and cities change, as well. I miss the old Mumbai and the old Bangalore! These cities have tremendously changed that I cannot dream of getting back to their oldselves. However, in Delhi, in spite of the cultural changes of the then years, I am witnessing a remarkable socio-techno-economic changes that gradually (may be secretly), I am falling in love with my city, at last 🙂

4 Years ago…

Post the Nirbhaya rape case, I condemned Delhi to the point that all men living in Delhi seemed like criminals and all women living in Delhi seemed risking their lives in a deadly city. As a mother of two daughters, the increasing rape cases in Delhi left me with worried existence. I would often get visions of girls subjected to sexual violence while cooking or watering the plants and even during sleep. It was a fearful time of life!

It did no good in blaming the Government or the laws because the root lies in some men, either psychological or physiological. And how can one identify and reform such men? There were no good hopes, for the dark side of this city had already engulfed me with fear.

3 Years ago…

It took one incident of what a brave girl did to her molester during a crowded metro travel, for me to un-tie my fears and look positively towards a better Delhi. Let me quickly narrate the incident, if you haven’t heard about it before.

crowded metro station

A girl travelling in a crowded metro in Delhi felt the penis of a man, standing behind her, touching her back. While no one gave attention to her shouting, she braved to run behind this man and filed a FIR against him who was later taken to the Tihar jail. To a large extent, this inspiring write-up of the incident by the girl herself, changed my perspective of looking at all Delhi women as potential victims.

3 Months ago…

A group of young guys who had been having food at a dhaba, heard a cry for help from a woman from inside a car which sped past them. The responsible youngsters called the Delhi police, chased the car and rescued the woman in time. This recent incident, further changed my perspective that not all Delhi men are rapists.

Positive efforts by someone unknown has the power to change the perspective of life of a person, sitting at home at some corner of the city. That is what I felt with the two incidents narrated above.


Today, I am more positive about the safety of woman in the city, than how I was 4 years ago. I feel glad when I read about meaningful initiatives and awareness campaigns that bring change and confidence in several Delhi girls. Here are a few, to spread some good vibes across the readers:

Because I am a Girl (BIAAG) by Plan India

parivartan delhi police biaag program
Self defense training by Parivartan, Delhi Police

The Safer Cities initiative, (under BIAAG) creates awareness and imparts safety education to young girls in and around Delhi. Take a look at how well the program has fared so far:

plan india safer cities biaag

Himmat, Cab tracking App, developed by Delhi Police

It feels unsafe for women to travel alone in cabs back from work to home, especially during nights. In order to make their rides safer, Delhi police has come up with Himmat App. A card with the driver’s details and a QR code gets placed behind the driver’s seat. A women who begins the ride, can open the Himmat app in her mobile and scan the QR code.

himmat app qr codes in cabs for safety

The details of the driver are sent to the Delhi police control room where the ride can be monitored in real time. A passenger without internet or smart phone can still share the ride details by sending a SMS to 8130099100 with the QR code. A trial run was done in 10 Delhi taxis, earlier this month. Soon, it will be brought into practice in 2000 airport taxis.

Free Vodafone Wi-Fi Hotspots & Bus Shelters in Delhi

There are times when internet becomes essential for a girl’s safety. May be, a timely Whatsapp message or a app download (like in the case of the Himmat app, discussed above) or an urgent cab booking. Sometimes, our mobile data may not work too well or we may run out of data charge. I have heard my neighbour girls recounting how a Vodafone Wi-Fi hotspot has helped them timely when they were in a difficult situation.


The recent installation of Wi-Fi bus shelter at Gurugram is a commendable effort by Vodafone. The support and benefit the hotspots offer people living in Delhi is sure to bring a new level change to women and to the city, as a whole.

Witnessing the new positive developments in Delhi, I feel secured about everything around me. Please share the support movements for woman you know about, in the country. It may help a reader at some point of time in their life.

An Indian, by heart!

I was at the Frankfurt International Airport. I had just arrived from India, taking the very first flight of my life at the age of 58.

I was to attend to the delivery of my daughter in the US. And I was to travel from India, all alone. Three flights, two connecting flight times, new countries, foreign people – it seemed no fun and I felt nervous about it ever since my daughter became pregnant.

My conversational English is just average; considering the fact that I come from a regional-language-medium school, my confidence level in speaking English is not so great. In spite of people telling me that I don’t actually need to ask anyone for assistance, I wasn’t sure if I can do it all by myself. For close to a month, I was informed of the step-by-step procedures starting with collecting the boarding pass, checking in the luggage, immigration check, security check, locating the flight terminals, liquid bottles-100 ml-zip-lock bag – I have rehearsed and re-rehearsed on my dumb brain several times before the D day 😯 Yet, I was at my most anxious state of mind at the Bengaluru International Airport the previous night.

Image Credit: Flickr

I kept staring at the label tags they gave me at the boarding pass collection counter queue. Everybody else was writing something and I had no clue what I was supposed to write on it. I cursed my husband and daughters for not teaching me this step and I was afraid of what more such surprises were awaiting me. Thus, with the fright-or-flight mechanism intact in me, I managed to reach Frankfurt Airport the next morning.

And then started the second round of apprehension. I had only two hours’ time to locate the terminal for the connecting flight to Dallas. Following the other Indians, I finally reached two closed doors and felt exactly like playing the Richard O’Brien’s crystal maze show. It took something moving inside the closed doors, after a while, to realize that it was actually a train station.

After verifying multiple times that I had reached the right terminal gate, I was waiting for the announcement of the boarding; still doubtful if I was at the right place for the right flight. That’s when I spotted a young mother trying hard to manage her three children. For a second I thought she was weeping. She was, in fact, weeping! I turned around and noticed that a few more people in the airport were looking keenly at her. She had a crying infant on her lap whom she was trying to passify; she had a toddler on one side of the twin perambulators who was whining continuously and an older girl of around four years who was running hither and thither to her heart’s content. The lady seemed to be the only adult around them. I could understand her difficult situation but I couldn’t quite figure out why it should make her cry or if she was crying for something else.

Image Credit: Mammi Money

The more I observed her, the more I felt restless. Should I offer her help? Will she be able to understand my English? Will she look down upon me for my complexion, the saree I was wearing or at my English? What if she tries to ignore me or snap at me? Even if she responds, will I understand what she speaks? Will people of their culture even expect help? Or should I better mind my business? I was struggling between guarding my dignity at a foreign place and calming my Indian blood that twitched to comfort her. After what seemed like a long time, I pulled up all my courage, walked up to her awkwardly, conscious of how I would appear to the rest of the crowd, and gestured to her to give me the crying infant.

What followed transcended my soul from all barriers of culture, region and religion, for the rest of my life!

The lady immediately placed the baby on my arms with tears of gratefulness combined with tears of that something else she was crying about. In a few seconds of strolling on my shoulders, the baby settled down. The lady quickly tried to speak a few sentences together amidst the emotional struggle she was going through, without me having to ask her anything. I understood that her mom had passed away and that she was waiting for her flight to some country. It made much sense now though I couldn’t understand the rest of the sentences that she spoke. For the next half an hour, I kept the three children engaged while she quietly resigned to her thoughts of melancholy. When it was time for her departure, she collected the kids and spoke to me from the depth of her heart in a serene tone. Again, I understood that she felt thankful but nothing of the rest of the long sentences she spoke.

The warmth I had felt after the family disappeared from my sight was conquering. It wasn’t just a good feeling of having helped a stranger; it was a proud feeling that my Indian upbringing had made me to care for a struggling mother in spite of the breaking of my complex that it had required.

Not that people of other cultures do not care for others; but definitely Indians do it a little more than others, especially when it comes to the matters of women and children. Now that I’ve been to the US more than thrice for my daughter’s subsequent deliveries and having interacted with people of different cultures in the US, I have a fair knowledge of the way of lives in the US. On the brighter side, I like the fact that strangers smile at each other at Walmart, cars stop for a while at crossroads letting the others go and follow lane discipline which Indians can get nowhere near to. However, I’ve observed that their bonding with family is shallower. From the woman at the immigration check counter – who had asked me why I was at US for which I answered that my daughter was carrying, to which in turn she asked me what my daughter was carrying – to every other person there, were surprised, while some were even cynical, about the fact that I had travelled across the globe spending lakhs of rupees to attend to my daughter’s delivery. In India, we take it as our duty to look after our children during needy times regardless of how old they get. And our culture also makes our children to look after us when parents get older. In either way, the familial bond is kept intact and that’s something which defines the value of Indians and the Indian culture.

As an Indian, I might not have the most pleasing complexion, I might not appear nice in my saree clad, my English language might not be the best in the world, I might not be confident enough to face a new group of people or know how to behave elegantly at a new place. However, as an Indian, I know to support a fellow mother who is in distress; I know how not to ignore a crying heart and I know how to come out of my timid-self to render help. And now I know that humanity has a special language beyond appearance and confidence, which Indians are the best in reading at. 

The very fact that the mother at the Frankfurt airport found solace from her troubling children on the event of a loved one’s death is a victory. It might not mean big in the corporate world or in the history of countries but to the evolution of humanity, it is indeed a victorious step. When, someday, the lady recollects this incident, she will remember me as ‘an Indian woman’.

There shall come a day when I will be on my death bed and my daughter will have to pass through a similar situation as that of the lady, and I hope that there will be another Indian mother to comfort my daughter, that one day.

I was reminded of this small anecdote of my life while watching the Lufthansa TV commercial for their #MoreIndianThanYouThink campaign because as you could have guessed Lufthansa was that very first flight of my life!

A Note on Suicide and Depression

‘The Story of a Suicide’ by Sriram Ayer is an open book, available online here for public reading. The book can be read via a laptop, computer, phone or tablet. It also has an audio book option available. 

The Plot

The story revolves around four youngsters who are undergoing stressful situations in their lives. Hari suffers a bad past from his abused childhood. Mani has difficulty in studying in an English medium course. Sam is frustrated with repeated rejections from the girls he loved. Charu dislikes men who try to control the lives of women. All of them come together to study in the same college. The sharing of their personal woes and interactions make the scenes of the 31 chapters of the book.

Flow and Narration

The book is perhaps a quick read if you are used to digital reading. I am not a gadget person, so it did take a few days to complete. The author’s writing style is quite a style. It isn’t like anything I’ve read before. Not that it’s sophisticated; rather it is plain, simple and well up to the point. Though I couldn’t sync in with the first two chapters, from the third I got hooked onto the plot. Yet, there’s definitely a miss in the flow of narration in between. Though not a major concern, it is apparent during the reading.

Realistic conversations make the narration interesting. The conversations exactly depict how youngsters use present day jargons and the ‘F’, ‘B’, ‘A’ words with which they express their frustrations and emotions explicitly. However, if one is not used to reading or hearing such words, the reading experience might initially be shocking or unpleasant to some. Nevertheless, as the story unwinds, the reader shall begin to accept the characters for how they speak, changing the initial shocking perspective of the language part.

Scoop of the book

This book is a platform to dive into how youngsters feel when faced with life’s difficulties. Hari’s character has been built strongly showing the underlying side of his fears because of a sexually abused childhood and the consequences that lead to his sexual orientation. His story is an eye-opener to parents, especially, to have a check on the lives of their children. Mani’s childhood where his drunkard father puts the family into trouble is equally relatable to what happens in several lower socio-economic families. At one point he attempts suicide but regrets later after he gets rescued. Mani’s story, for some reason, did not sound significant as much as the others’.

More closer were the characters of Sam and Charu. It was as though their thought processes were scrolling down on a screen. They both were the best works of the author in the entire book. Through the character of Charu, the author has brought out how women are seen and treated in our country. It is no exaggeration but an ugly reality of the time period we are living in. Yet, the fragile girl in her who becomes vulnerable to a private threat finally dictates the limitation of all women. Sam is a perfect example of what men look in and expect from a girl of their target. Perhaps, in men, lust over powers love. How the feeling of being put to shame transforms to hatred has been beautifully articulated through Sam’s psyche.

Excerpts from the Book

A few descriptions of real-time observations with profound meaning were admirable. This is one such I liked:

‘Hari was amused by two small crabs that were on a race only to be drawn back in to the waters by the oncoming wave. Hari smiled at their predicament but was surprised to find that they continued their race till the next wave destroyed their present purpose.’ (Chapter: Our Secret)

What’s after reading the book? 

This book has come to us at the right time and most importantly, in the right form (free reading). Several scenes in the book helped me contemplate on these subjects. It reminded me of people I’ve known who have faced similar struggles. Most often, I could only listen to them but wasn’t able to help them in a big way. Now that the book has planted the seed in me to bring change in others’ lives, I begin here, with a little piece of my thoughts.

Teenage is an age to pep up in life, to hope for a brighter future and step onto the ladder of growth and development. However, if mental health during this phase of life is disturbed, it can take a toll of the rest of the life. With child abuse and other unpleasant social atrocities, youngsters aren’t let to survive in a warm society. They are surrounded by potentially harmful technology and judgmental people all around them. When even not life half-lived, youngsters might not be strong to face challenges while in fact they are undergoing the strengthening process. Well, what can we do about it?

If you are facing a serious difficulty, be it a break-up or sexual abuse or anything undefined, help yourself to come out of the victimization. You may or may not be in the state of self-help, Yet, check if you can do any of the following:

Speak up: It might not be as easy as written here. However, choose a trustworthy person. If you are not willing to disclose your feelings to any known person, seek professional help such as a NGO or a mental health counselor. But speak up! Speaking your heart out is half burden taken down.

Prepare for rejection: Well, speaking out may make you feel rejected, sometimes. Expect this even before you speak up. Others might not empathize or sympathize with you the way you expect them to. Expect this too. Prepare your mind for the worst reaction. You might be chided. You might be laughed at. You might be ignored. Yet, feel good that you did a first aid to yourself in speaking up.

Seek help: Depending upon the level of your problem, seek outside help like a police complaint or a psychiatric appointment or with a mental health organization. The message is don’t give up seeking help.

Identify the source of your inspiration: You may not be in the best of state to think about inspirations. However, try harder to identify what inspires you the most. It could be a book reading or painting or writing or movies or food or yoga or social service. Force yourself into it. It may take sometime before you can breathe out in ease.

How Do I?: Try reading the ‘How Do I?’ answers from the book, ‘The Story of a Suicide’.

Help Yourself: We all are alone in our individual lives. That’s the bottom truth. Help yourself the best you can without indulging in alcohol, tobacco, drugs and anything illegal and detrimental.

Irrespective of what happens in our lives, we all move on; we must all move on. At the end of life, we must feel victorious of having passed through the best and the worst rather than ending it halfway because of fear and depression.


How I navigated through Internet in my early days?!

As a person of the older generation, it wasn’t easy to navigate through the myriads of terms and usage of the internet during my beginner days. As a matter of fact, I was new to computers as well. Hear how my early goof-ups led to my mastering of the art of browsing.

The Art of Double-clicking

Seems funny today, but it took me a while for my fingers to get adapted to click twice without a pause. My fingers wouldn’t work that quick in the beginning. No matter how fast I tried, there would always be a time gap between the clicks. And when I could finally learn, the Internet Explorer icon gave way to a blank screen.

Learning to reach Google

  1. Identifying the address bar

As with anybody, my first lesson was Google. I couldn’t locate the address bar easily at one go. I always had a confusion of where to begin typing. An important key point to note here is that unless I do a click on the address bar, the blinking cursor wouldn’t appear on the address bar. Most often I would begin typing Google, without moving the cursor on the address bar and I would wonder where all that I type disappears to. Again, in a while, I understood that I need to follow the blinking cursor every time when I want to type.

     2. Learning to type

It wasn’t as easy as I imagined it to be. For the alphabets, I could somehow manage to find each of it slowly. However, when I did a mistake and had to go back, it took sometime to locate the backspace button on my keyboard. And the space bar too!

     3. Reaching Google finally

So I did type Google! The easiest was to hit ‘search’. Yay! There was Google in front of me. I entered my first-ever key words for search and in seconds there was a list of so many stuff about what I searched for.

Operating Email

I have no clue of how it was done because my email account was created by my daughter. For some reason navigating through the email functions was relatively easier than operating the address bar. The most happening realization about my username and password came to me after a few days of opening the account. When an acquaintance had asked me for my email address, I gave her both my username and password, assuming she would require my password to read the emails I send it. Yes, ironically funny! But I was once like that 😉

However, technology isn’t difficult to master. As I type this post, I have several tabs open at the same time, whee I do multi-tasking of managing my email, Facebook updates and blogging. Sounds great for someone who didn’t know typing, isn’t it?

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

My Impactful First Memory of Life

First remembrance always marks a memorable moment in one’s life. Out of the umpty number of life moments, regardless of whether it might be happy or sad, only those incidents or the events, that has had a great impact on our psyche finds a permanent place in the brain. Scientists have found that there are three types of memory – sensory memory, which lasts for a few seconds, short term memory which lasts for less than an hour and long term memory which can be recollected at any time during one’s life time.

Memory is an intriguing component of our lives. Conscious memory like adventures and experiences and unconscious memory like intelligence and competence make an integral circuit of our remembrances. Saints and yogis say memories can be tapped from our brain’s storehouse. Even one’s past and future life memories can be recollected through sincere and long practices of some yoga techniques. It is said that according to one’s karmic effect, a soul is born on earth to fulfil its balance karma. If it is so, then the soul is carrying its past life memories as well. Our brains begin to form memory in the mother’s womb from the second gestational month. And only after the soul enters into a body or an embryo, it transfers the past data to the brain.

Now, I am past 60 years,. I can recollect my memory from as young as I was four years old, when my parents joined me in baby class. In those days, there were no Pre Kg or Kindergarten classes like now. From Baby class, we would advance straight to the 1st grade. My school was located just 200 meters from the back gate of our house, hardly a five minute walk.

Wearing white half trousers and tucked white shirt with baby black shoes, I would hold my sister’s hand, everyday to school. That is my very first remembrance; the very first impact my brain chose to store! I still remember the seven cemented steps that led to the entrance of my school. At the entrance, on either side, one Lion statue would welcome us. I remember happy playtimes, sitting on the Lions and imagining them to roar while I ride on them. The huge Gulmohar tree with its bright red flowers is still fresh in my memory. Apart from my mother’s musical songs, I remember those musical rhymes my teacher used to sing to us.

Though there are several unforgettable experiences and incidents in my life, my first remembrance has made a unique impact on me that even after years, I can recollect it with great detail. It makes me feel awed at the powerful impact that a particular scene in an early life should have made to a young brain that it gets to the place of a long-term memory.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.