Journey called life

A Chance encounter with a Stranger

This story begins in a small (mofussil) town in India in the month of November, 2020. This is a predominantly rural area situated on the banks of river Ganga (mighty as well as perennial).

Land is fertile and a variety of crops are grown in abundance due to round-the-year availability of water. Soil is fertile and mango trees are dotting the landscape. Many cash crops, leafy as well as pleasant (to eyes and soul ) vegetables are also grown in large quantity. So, this area is rich in resources but irony is that people inhabiting this fertile soil are poor.

Mangoes are not for everyone

Not all but a vast majority of people can be classified as poor if you include provision of basic amenities and connectivity among the criteria of classifying poor. Yes, I missed the connectivity part. The area at the centre of this story is poorly connected to major cities of India.

You can pluck this town out from map of India and put it in any under-developed or poor countries of Asia/Africa/South America , you get the same picture of strange relationship between people and resources.

Mahatma Gandhi has said that –

There is enough for everybody’s need and not for everybody’s greed”. So, he literally said that if resources are shared equally, no person would go hungry or thirsty. After all, how much a person need to survive ?

600 grams of Oxygen on daily basis which is provided free by nature & some food/water which is also free but we have become salesman and are selling it since last few centuries.

Does an animal need to purchase food or water in wild ?

There are around 20 Quintillion animals on the earth. In simple terms, 20 billion billion animals are sharing the planet earth with us. To put this number in perspective , now think that only 7.8 billion humans are walking on earth.

May be honestly, not all are walking , large number of people may be crawling , some because they are infants or some because they must not have developed spinal cord due to their submissive behaviour. What is the reason of unequal distribution of resources among people of a same geographical entity ?

Any way, coming back to my story –

02 middle-aged ladies were walking in their neighbourhood in the early evening hours. This was in a tony township colony in midst of rural landscape where few rich people lives.

Weather was pleasant and easterly wind was blowing slowly which had a magical charm to it. The midpoint between ending of autumn season and arrival of winter season brings pleasant weather. The fallen leaves on the black-topped roads were presenting a mesmerising vista. If your stomach is full, such weather can make you a poet.

Isolated Fairyland

However, ladies in this case were just enjoying an evening stroll on wind-swept roads and indulging in gossiping. Sometimes, gossiping can be fun and many people play this game round-the-clock.

They were walking in a colony which can virtually be termed as self-sufficient in respect of all basic and advance amenities. Even if, the world outside their colony gates vanished , the inhabitant won’t need to worry about anything for next few years.

Yes, such small townships can be found in large quantities in an unequal society.

It is a tradition in poor countries that rich people always enclose themselves behind big walls. This separation wall has 02 benefits, first one is to block the movement of poor and hostile neighbours towards their cosy space and second one is to block their own view of outside world so that they can live peacefully in their isolated fairyland.

While walking they(ladies) passed through the cluster of neighbourhood shops which sells everything from A to Z items i.e. all conceivable household/kitchen items. A single shop was open and one of the lady suddenly saw an item of her interest dangling from frontage of the shop.

She went to shop and asked for that item. Shopkeeper was a chubby middle-aged friendly man who gave the said item to the lady.

When it was time for paying cash, the lady realized that she was not carrying her money bag. She wanted the item desperately. However , she was reluctant to ask for favours as she wasn’t familiar with shopkeeper. Nevertheless, she told shopkeeper that she will pay for the item tomorrow and shopkeeper obliged by packing her things suitably.

She kept telling him repeatedly the she lives close by and will pay him tomorrow. By now , an undeclared bond had developed between them as shopkeeper told her not to worry about money.

During this short span of few minutes, both were acting as if they knew each other since ages and transaction had become immaterial for them. Lady kept talking about paying money repeatedly and man repeatedly asked her not to think of money.

It is incredible…….how do people form a relationship at the drop of a hat.

Are we humans wired to understand each other ? What compelled shopkeeper to behave in the way he did ?

Complex question …..without a definite answer ?

Both ladies walked off with happiness writ large on their faces.

Chubby shopkeeper was also happy.

Some bystanders who watched this episode also seemed happy by the trust shown by the good shopkeeper. It brought a smile on everyone’s lips.

There was no monetary transaction between individuals but all seemed happy .

Both were stranger before this episode but must have formed a lasting salesman -customer relationship in foreseeable future.

It was getting late and shopkeeper closed his shop and went back to his home ….still a mysterious smile dancing on his lips.

Weather had turned nippy this evening and darkness was about to engulf this small town. Both ladies went to their respective homes singing a folk song happily and got busy in their home and life.

Tomorrow will be a new day.

Sunrise can give rise to many possibilities.

What if they hadn’t met today ?

Roads are dark and lovely

What if the shop wasn’t open or ladies had decided to stroll in another area of the township ?

What if………………. ?

Life in a Slow Lane

Life is like a long road journey, driving in a comfortable 04-wheeler. If you drive at a leisurely pace , there are more chances of enjoying the drive and reaching the destination safely, in a relaxed state of mind. If you drive like a race driver, then ideally your journey should be of shorter distance or for a shorter period of time. If it is not, then either you do not believe in enjoying the drive or simply you are a robot with an active heart and few bottles of liquid blood circulating inside your veins.

Here, I am exclusively talking about people who love driving and believe in driving for pleasure or commuting to work. Commercial drivers are a different species altogether and they have to consider a lot of factors which affect their driving habits. Size of vehicle is a big factor on road and mistakes also carry bigger repercussions based on the mass of vehicle.

Another category of drivers who occupy roads use 02-wheelers of various dimensions and it is the largest category of drivers (especially in low and middle-income countries of the world ) which includes almost every section of a society. Bike aficionados also form a major chunk of this segment who mostly drive for fun and adventure.

Cyclists are the lowest strata of road users in most countries except some richer western countries where Cycle tracks occupy the pride of place among city planners. Cycles are used by both poor and rich persons for obviously different reasons. Rich people use it for recreational purpose and poor people use it for sustaining life as it is the most economical means of commuting for a large number of people on earth. Pollution-less status of Cycles have helped in advancing it’s usage among environmentally -conscious people who can afford to shun public transport for shorter distances.

It is an established fact that all the above-mentioned category of drivers come on the road due to some reasons or why else they will use a transport ?

So, if everyone is a conscious human being and driving for a defined purpose on the road, why do road accidents happen ?

Reasons are manifold but negligence may top the list. I will bypass the safety and other reasons for the simple fact that if an accident has happened , negligence may have played some part in any of the factor related with vehicle, road, people or circumstances.

Speed can also be listed as one of the reasons in majority of cases. Few million people die around the world every year and majority of them are males.

Why do more males die in road accidents ?

Not that males are bad drivers or bad users of road. May be, females are better drivers, but debating driving skills won’t do any good in this case.

For the simple fact that in majority of nation, more males remain on the road at any time of the day.

Moreover, in road accidents, more people die in low and middle-income countries as compared to richer countries. Reasons are obvious – better and safe vehicles, better road infrastructure and defined space for everyone on the road, better implementation of rules/regulations, better emergency response system, etc. are some of the factors.

However, nowadays , self-driving cars have joined the fun on roads. But, vehicle without drivers is a concept which many people are unable to digest for the simple reason that if accidents happen on the road then there is no chance of road-rage or the resultant melee associated with road accidents.Chaos of road accident is too tempting for human beings and that’s why accidents keep happening regularly. Ironically, when a self-driving car killed a person for the first time ever in Arizona in 2018, human error was determined to be the root cause.

What an irony ?

If a human is to be blamed for an accident by a self-driving car then what is the purpose of autonomous cars ?

So, do not believe in technology as far as driving skills are concerned.

Driving is an in-built ability which some people possess intrinsically and some learn it religiously. Speed is the most vital factor in controlling a moving object. If you are moving at a slower pace then chances of survival in road accidents increases exponentially. No matter how much safety devices are invented, if you can’t control your instincts on the road than you are doomed.

One of the largest segment of online games consists of Racing and Speed games and Z-generation kids love it on the screen. But there is difference in virtual reality and black tarmac in real life.Hopefully, when these kids grow up, better sense will prevail.

I have been a fan of Fast and Furious series but was shaken by the death of actor Paul Walker in 2013 who seemed to be a perfect driver in every sense of the term.

Running in fast lane may have it’s thrill but life in slow lane looks cosy and comfortable.

I love Cycling due to this reason only as it keeps you grounded in every sense. It is also healthy to use it regularly and many fitness enthusiasts swear by the benefits of this ancient medium of transport.

But, that topic deserves another blog. May be some other day.

The Curse of Laziness

This line seems apt. But, I can tell you that contrary to widely-held view about bad effects of laziness, the truth is sometimes damn opposite. But, many religions prohibit the act of laziness. Nevertheless, for truly inspired people, laziness is an skill cultivated meticulously over an extended period of time.

This thought came to my mind sometimes during the year 2019 while watching the video of a JCB excavator digging roads in some part of India. This video has garnered nearly 05 million views on YouTube and was trending on Indian social media at that time.

The content of video are not noteworthy –

” Few hundred people are watching the act of digging by a JCB excavator on a road near an ugly drain from all sides,even from windows and rooftops.”

Who are these people ?

What is the fun in watching the JCB at work ?

Not a lazy man’s job

Before, I deal with the question, I must answer google-inspired itching in everyone’s mind.

JCB is not an Oxonian word – it simply means Joseph Cyrill Bamford and it is a Britain-based company dealing with construction, agriculture and demolition equipments. But, in India, it has literally become synonymous with a giant fork-like robotic hand digging trenches.

So, when you dig deeper into the spectacle of digging trenches, you come to the conclusion that either people have no work or are just curious and feel happy about the sublime art of digging.

But, what about those 05 million viewers who watched it on their smartphones/Computers ?

They all can’t be termed jobless ? It wasn’t a blockbuster movie ? So, why ?

No documentary or movie about digging trenches is available on Netflix and I don’t think that anything on this topic can be ever made in a movie ?

So, the question remains ……………… why ?

Before answering the question, I will take a detour and little bit digression from this topic.

I will tell you a short story about 03 friends.

July being the peak season of mangoes, 03 friends were sleeping on ground beneath a big mango tree in an orchard. Weather was sultry but cool breeze was blowing and sun was playing hide and seek with clouds. No signs of rain in the sky…..

Suddenly , a ripe mango fell down on the stomach of the person sleeping in the middle. It’s pungent smell and juicy aroma woke everyone up, but no one took the initiative of picking up the mango. They requested each other to pick up mango, peel it and give it to them for eating. But, the question remained that who should do the dirty work of waking up and feeding mango to everyone. So, finding no answer, they went back to sleep.

After some time, a dog came and started the process of urinating on 1st person. He woke up and requested others to shoo away the evil dog. No one took the initiative and dog went about his work with methodical precision.

Dogs have an old habit of repeating themselves and marking their territory. So, this urinating procession continued till all 03 were drenched completely.

But, now they were happy that no one among them will spread the word about their loss of dignity as everyone was in the same boat.

So, this was the curse of laziness.

Now, coming back to JCB issue, I think that those people watching the machine at work are lazy people. They enjoy the the hard work being done by someone else. It is the classic example of laziness when you have the capability to do the work but you won’t do it.

It is like the black clouds which raises hope among people of bountiful rain but goes away with the strong and manipulative wind.

These black clouds as lazy clouds.

What is the purpose of a cloud which doesn’t bring rains ?

Laziness on the horizon

But, all is not bad with the laziness, people also work hard to enjoy the fruit of laziness. Considering that manual or physical work is normally performed by a minuscule section of people in rich societies, many people can be classified as lazy if we compare them to poorer section of societies.

Laziness also has a biological reason. Sometimes, hookworms are termed as the “germ of laziness”.

Tell me, if you are sitting on a cushy chair/sofa and reading this article and suddenly you feel thirsty and find that water source is a little bit away.

What will you do ?

Will you seek someone’s help or make an effort by yourself to quench thirst ?

Think hard and decide for yourself !

So, laziness is included in everyone’s routine.

A lazy person can become a fighting-fit horse depending upon the circumstances.

However, being lazy is not everyone’s cup of tea. If some people can afford to be lazy than it means that either they have resources to enjoy life or in simple words they are just idiots.

That’s it for today.

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