They are not mere data-points

It has been over a month, I am staying at a certain tribal village with the people, sharing their reality. I am here to collect data. When I enter their house I say I am from IRMA and we are here to survey your household, know about your income, expenditure, the crops you grow, the food you eat, the school your kids go, the diseases you suffer from. I get my responses, I jot them down and move on with my life. ‘Another household covered…!’ I exclaim within myself.

Every reality has its own lens

But then I recently met a family, just a mere household I went to cover, to get my data points, to get the variation in my data. The head of the family suffered from asthma, the lady was an agricultural labourer. They had two kids, stunted in their growth but way ahead with their mind. The kids knew how much food grains they get from the fair price shop every month as it is invaluable for their existence, they knew how much the seeds cost, how much it took to rent a tractor to farm, how much fertilizer they put in. Heck, the 12 year olds even knew how much it costs to sell their goats, as it is what helps the family when the rain plays a spoilsport and ruins their crops.

I clamour that my life has been tough, when mom cooks something which I dislike, when my internet speeds suffer, when my order doesn’t get delivered on time, when my phone battery is about to die. But their struggles are about life and death, every single day. The lady goes out to the nearby town and works as a labourer, the father goes out in the farm, the kids to the nearby school. They come together at night when it grows dark and suddenly, the lights go off, they feel absolutely indifferent. They know this is a part of their life, a part of their daily struggle, to embrace the darkness. No electricity can clear such darkness.

It gave me a sense of understanding. To be honest, it made me feel grateful and helpless
simultaneously. Grateful, that I was privileged enough to be born and brought up in a way where I could realize my potentials and try to push my limits. And helpless as I could give them nothing but my sympathy. I know both their kids won’t study for long, they too would go out and toil in the sun to support the family. The vicious cycle would continue, their poverty would never come in their zone of control. It will only go on further and farther.

That day I realised I am not here to just get my data-points, to get my 21 Households surveyed and prepare a report. There is so much more to each person I meet, much more than the amount of wheat, rice, sugar they consume, much more than the pay they receive. I saw a picture of life that was non-existent for me. Never in my life would I have come to know these people, their lifestyle, their struggles. As an individual it affects me, makes me understand their pain of hunger, their pain of ignorance, their absolute helplessness.

With a heavy heart, teary eyes and a sense of realization I walked out of their home. They were not mere data-points for me anymore…

Wish you a very happy and insightful new year 🙂

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India lives in many centuries at a time…

Many years ago, renowned film maker Mr. Shyam Benegal addressed aspiring rural managers in the auditorium of Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) and famously mentioned that our country lives in many centuries at a time… Recently after visiting a tribal village named ‘Sarkui‘, around 70 kms from Surat city, I believe Mr. Benegal’s words stand taller than ever.

The experiences I had there made me realize the privileges I had always taken for granted in life. I am sharing a few below…

The face that says it all

Bhimjibhai, a marginal farmer living in a kuccha house with intermittent access to electricity and water, has a family of five to take care of. With no access to banking facilities, he takes loan from private money lenders and waits patiently for 14 months to get the money for his sugarcane production… When asked if he is facing any huge challenges, he smiles and says ‘Sab thik hi hai’… That’s the face of rural India.

A little kid peeps into the camera

Found him in one of the three Anganwadis in Sarkui. There the young kids are looked after. The kids of the scheduled tribes do not have access to a nutritive diets. They are often anemic and suffer from stunted growth. Their diet in the Anganwadi primarily consists of rice and milk.

The local P.A system of the village

Sarkui mainly consists of people from Scheduled tribes, the Chaudharis, the Vasavas and the Kotwaliyas. These communities have their traditions deeply rooted in their culture. One such tradition is of the Valvai. He is the person who makes announcement for public gatherings in the village. His forefathers have been doing the same since years and he has been continuing the tradition. Here he is informing people to gather in the jungle tomorrow morning for the celebration of Nandarva, the festival after the first monsoon rain in the village.

Pankajbhai, the Sarkui higher secondary school principal

An enthusiastic young man, Pankajbhai has recently been appointed the school principal and he wants to do real service to a village where the education literacy is just over 50%. His major concern is the lack of quality education in the primary school. Kids coming from the 8th grade don’t possess basic skills. He needs to start by teaching them counting and mathematics before going ahead. The challenges at his hand are immense but he is confident in bringing about a change in the village.

As our professors say that Poverty is multi-dimensional. I believe so is rural India as well. It cannot be defined, it can only be sensed and can only be sensitized about. The experience was eye-opening for me and I hope that one day I will be able to make a difference in their lives.

Big shout-out to Rajat and Praveen my Induction Field-work Segment (IFS) partners. The memories we made will always be remembered.

I hope you enjoyed the post 🙂

Do let me know your thoughts in the comment section!!

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The void when a book comes to an end…

I’ve always felt that reading a book is like having an intimate relationship. It’s concealed, private, honest and genuinely satisfying. It’s a two way exercise. I reward the book with my time and the book gifts me back with its set of words and sentences. It also gives me a chance to get into a new reality and observe it, but it depends on me how deeper can I get lost in it. It’s like stepping out of the train and taking in the breath of your native city after months of longing, it’s like an earthly feeling that gives me immense joy in being a human.

But nothing lasts forever…

One day the book comes to an end, and with it, it takes away my chance to again ever be part of that unreal reality. Oh it’s painful and leaves a void within, which is unknowingly special due to it’s emptiness. The fact that it was never there in the first place but someday it was created when I began reading and then it got filled with absolute happiness… It makes me feel contended that I once experienced something so amazing, even though today it is only emptiness.

I am thankful that there are so many books to read that one lifetime can never be enough.

Today one book ends, tomorrow I begin a new one. The smell of a new book fills me with an intense energy. It excites me about the journey I am going to embark upon. There will be days when initially it will be struggle, where I will keep comparing the new one with the old one, but eventually the new reality will engulf me so deeply that I will fail to remember the older one. The void will get filled with a different but equally satisfying happiness!

I feel this is all so similar to meeting new people and making new friends. Each book has its own personality, that evolves as I go through the pages. The entire journey of the book shapes as I go through. It’s like those multiple interactions I have with people when I come to actually know them and understand that the book is completely different from its cover… Every book, just like every person adds a certain layer to my life, it has a defined purpose in my life. Each one teaches me something I am completely unaware about and helps me understand my own self even more clearly. But then one day the book ends, I have to part ways. I get along just fine with a void within, on a search, for a new book in the journey of my life 🙂

Have you ever felt this way about a certain book you’ve recently read?

Do let me know in the comment section!!

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Goa was serene (A pint-sized parable)

There was a moment when I stood at a certain beach and could see nothing ahead of me, nothing besides my own self. Only the sparkling water coming and greeting my feet, only the scorching summer sun and raging wind embracing me. A greater sense of calm prevailed, it made me relieve of all my tensions, all my pains, all my sorrows. I felt empty of sadness, yet full with peace.

The place was Arambol, a beach which rewarded me with the solitude that I had seldom found. In moments like these I drifted within myself, contemplating about all that had happened in the recent past, introspecting about what I want to have in the years to follow. It was like an experience rewarded nowhere, only beaches offer me the comfort of looking within myself.

Arambol beach

As I was visiting a beach after over 2 years (yes, you can feel surprised!), I made sure that I did one really important thing. I decided to take in the essence of where I was, not just the vast expense of water in front, but the rumbling of the waves, the sensation of cool water greeting my feet and warm sunshine everywhere around. I decided to preserve it in my memory so that I can recall it whenever I feel low, so that it becomes the place to look forward to when I would not enjoy being where I would be.

Certainly I never wanted to come back from there.

I wanted to settle near the beach, spend my evenings watching the sunset and at night hear the rumbling until I go to sleep. Life would be so simple, devoid of any hardships. The waves would keep on coming and going back, just like my breath completely involuntary.

But as it turns out I stood there and wondered how do waves get created and why they are unending…

So I researched and found that there are multiple factors causing the ceaseless waves. From the gravitation pull of the sun and the moon, to the winds blowing on the surface of the oceans, all play their part in creating the waves. To know more check it out here.

As much peace I experienced, I felt vulnerable as well. I knew that there can come a moment when a giant wave arises and sweeps me with her unknowingly, making me absolutely unknown and unheard of in the vast blue ocean… But then until that time comes I wanted to stand there, close my eyes and… just breathe…


Have you had an introspection of yourself while standing at a beach?

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Office Affairs

3. Bad is the new good!

( Office affairs deals with the basics one should be prepared to learn as soon as he enters the corporate world. How each one goes on to give us a life lesson. Pardon me, if I.T. professionals could relate more to it… )


I could see him roam around. Going from one Veteran’s (people more than three yrs older in the O.D.C) desk to another. He didn’t crawl like a snake, but his walk bore the purest venom.

Thoughts filled with disgust, eyes filled with slyness and voice filled with honey. Oh boy, the demon was indeed here, and he had two eyes, a nose and two hands.

The ultimate manifestation of garbage was draped in front of me in shirt and pant just like me, just like anyone else. But he was Bad (yes, I’ll be calling him that).

Bad seemed good initially, before the clout actually got cleared. He noted when I came in, when I went out, what I read, what I said. Bad was really clever.

Bad always said to me ‘I’ve got ample of work to do’ but the next moment, he went after the Veterans , wagging his tail. He obliged them by hurling heaps of praises. Bad knew how to get up the ladder by pushing others out.

This is an ode to him who bore a smile when you shared your happiness but within his self, he got burned. This is an ode to Bad. Oh so well I know him now.

But then, its time to thank Bad. Thank you, I understand you more than you. Bad is no more bad, instead Bad has become the new good in my life. I can smell a Bad and laugh at his face. I can look into a Bad‘s face and never blink.
Thank you Bad you help me keep my eyes open!!

Have you ever met a Bad ? I think everyone meets a Bad , please share your thoughts on the Bad you happened to meet in your life.

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Why we love supporting the underdog!

A few days back I watched the Sultan trailer. It reminded me of SRK’s Chak De India as well as Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa. I enjoyed the trailer. How life takes him to a peak, then trashes him and how he finally comes back and hits back at life. The perfect story of an underdog. A person who comes out against all odds to prove that he still has got fight within him.
But one question arises in my mind. Why do most of us have an instant affinity towards the story of Underdogs even though we know the ending? Why do we enjoy story of people who’s success has been written off by everyone round them yet they bounce back to give a fitting reply to the entire society?
You know what do I feel? In our lives most of us have been deemed underdogs by the people around us. ‘Abe tu kya kar lega?‘ ‘Tere se nai hoga rehne de!!‘ are the sentences that most of us are greeted with at some point in our lives. And what do we do? We comply with their opinion. We lack the motivation to persevere.
And probably movies like Rocky releases our feelings of ‘having-accepted-results-without-trying’. When we see an underdog achieving his biggest dream, when we see surprise on the face of people who deemed him as a failure, that’s when we feel complete. It inspires us (at least for that particular moment) that dreams deemed unattainable by most also comes true…
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Jerry’s Gabble #3: Why do we have to explain everything?

Today as I was coming back home, I saw a man sitting next to a herd of cow. I felt strange as I thought ‘Why would someone do that?’. So I went near and saw him, who’s eyes were fixed on the cow. Guess who he was? Jerry, of course.
Me: Hey Jerry, is everything all right? (I kept a hand on his back)
Jerry stood motionless, moved his head, smiled at me… Again moved his head and started looking at the cow. I went down looked at the cow which was staring clueless at Jerry and then I looked at Jerry, I couldn’t understand exactly what he was trying to do.
Me: Jerry you are stupid!
He didn’t respond. I got up and started walking.
Jerry: Do cows tell each other that ‘hey you are stupid’ ?
I was like wtf  is he talking. He turned around, stood up and came upto me.
Jerry: Do cows keep on babbling all day long like us? Do they have to explain to everyone whatever they do??
Me: What are you talking?
Jerry (adjusting his glasses) : Every creature I see, except human, seems at an innate peace. There is no hurry within them to reach somewhere or to leave from somewhere. I guess their ignorance itself is bliss. Don’t you think so?
I was confused. His words were sharp and they went through me. His tone didn’t say that he wanted a answer, instead he had answered what he was doing. I felt he was trying to find that innate peace. I smiled at him as there was no need to say anything because all that was needed was that understanding.
I greeted him good-bye as I moved on my way back to my home.


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When I went a week without smartphone…

Can you imagine giving up on your smartphone for a day? Imagine not checking any of your messages on Whatsapp… imagine not scrolling through the newsfeed on Facebook or Instagram for a day. You would feel incomplete, right? But then ever thought how dependent you are becoming on it? How often it plays a role in making you feel good or feel miserable?
Well, I did and I realized that I was giving too much time to my smartphone. All day I keep checking messages, or reading some post or just senselessly surfing the web. And then I felt ‘Yaar time hi nai milta kuch karne ko…’. Finally, one night I had a sudden realization that let’s just not turn on the wifi on my smartphone and keep it aside. as Tony Stark says in Iron Man 3 ‘We create our own demons‘. I felt the same!!

Yes, it was pretty difficult. And to do that for a week was even more challenging. The first, second day I tried to distract myself, I studied for my college exams, I read newspaper, I read novels, I spent even more time with my family. Then at the third day I realized that people used to live a life before the advent of smartphones. My punishment turned into a sense of relief for me. I could feel that there was more to life than my smartphone.
I could sense my impatience had reached a road-block. I felt my life had totally slowed down. Time was just not passing, I had so much time to do everything I wanted to do. I was in control of my life. But then towards the fifth and sixth day I had gotten tired. Life felt monotonous. It seemed that I cannot just detach myself from the social world this way. I began waiting for the end of the seventh day after which I would be back.
Finally yesterday I came back online. It felt better. I understood the value of so many things. There has to be a certain balance in life. One has to realize when the limits are getting crossed. One has to take drastic changes, make certain amends in one’s life to come out as a better person. I feel much better now.
(PS: I used to access Facebook and my emails from my laptop during that period as I had to keep in touch with certain things.)

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We are growing impatient…

Today as I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I realized how fast I was scrolling through all the posts. I couldn’t wait long enough to read and appreciate anything, everything appeared so different, so same. There was an unnatural sense of impatience within me. A strange hurry to reach somewhere, an improper need to look at something. Then I began thinking why it happened.

It seems the whole of humanity is becoming impatient (yes, that’s too big a statement to make) and very few realize. Any information you need is just a Google search away, any news is just there waiting for you in your notification tray. One has forgotten how to wait. There is a sense of urgency to be the first one to upload a status regarding that India’s victory or be the first one to share that funny picture among one’s friends. There is always an unnecessary urge of being first, of bringing the most no. of likes, of getting noticed.

This hurry at times keeps us highly occupied, because the recognition doesn’t last, it melts away as soon as it comes, it keeps us wanting more and more like an unquenchable thirst. It keeps on scavenging. The only time we bear the patience is when we are in the theatre watching a movie, never otherwise.

I realize at times that people don’t like reading. In fact most of the people who have reached till here might not have read each and every word and understood its purpose. No, it’s not that I am forcing you but I just want to make you realize that its happening. We are growing impatient, which is not a good sign.


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Jerry’s gabble #2: There is no happiness in the future

Yesterday I was waiting for my bus and there I saw a guy who was searching something. On looking at him closely I found out he was Jerry. His eyes looked distressed, his face looked disturbed. I went near him and patted on his back. He suddenly looked back and adjusted his glasses.
Me: Hi Jerry.
Jerry: Hey (His eyes still searching something here and there…)

I was surprised.
Me: What happened?
Jerry (again adjusted his glasses, popped his eyes out and came closer to me) : There is no happiness in the future…

Me: What are you saying?
Then suddenly a bus came by and stopped near us.
Jerry: You look at that guy sitting at the window seat? (indicating with his finger)
I nodded.
Jerry: He is looking outside thinking that tomorrow something nice will happen and he will become happy.
Me: So? Everyone thinks that way. (I laughed a bit.)
Jerry: That’s what I am telling. There is no happiness in that future, its all hiding here, in the present. 
I was puzzled. ‘What is this guy talking about!’

Jerry: And that’s what I am searching for. Its here, somewhere… but I am not able to find it. 
His head moved from side to side, still trying to find that happiness which he feels is around him. I felt confused. As I greeted him good-bye I started looking outside the window and realized his words, though being absurd, were true. Running towards the future where we see the happiness takes us no-where forward. The real happiness is here, right now, around you. Go and find it…

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