Monday, April 13, 2009

The blank slate

One of the things I had in my mind, even before leaving for Edinburgh, was to buy a cycle once I reached here. I had this Famous Five style ‘riding through the meadows’ picture in my mind which complemented my love for cycling.

When I reached here, I learnt that there is a bicycle recycling and cycling promotion charity called the Bike Station at Edinburgh. There, they take old and discarded bikes out of landfill, repair as many as they can, and put them back on the roads. Every Saturday, between 10 am and noon, they sell these refurbished cycles to people. I thought of going there to buy a second hand cycle (when a new cycle would cost greater than £150, second hand cycles can be bought for as less as £40).

I went there on three consecutive Saturdays. The first time I reached the place at 10:30 or so. There was a huge queue. I hadn’t foreseen the demand for second hand cycles, especially during the time of the year when a lot of new students like me had landed in the city. I stood in the queue for some time and then, realizing that there was no way I was going to get a bike that day, left. The next week, I went there early. That week the number of cycles they had to sell were very few and by the time my turn came, there weren’t any cycles left.

The third Saturday, I went even earlier, to make sure that I get a favourable place on the queue. For a change, I was in the first group that was allowed to enter the garage. It was a square room, with cycles kept along the walls. I kept looking at the price tag (the most important factor to be considered!) of the cycles along one side. I saw one for £55. It looked in good condition. I knew the cost was reasonable. But my mind said, ‘Check out the other bikes too. There might be something cheaper, better’. I went around the room looking at the other cycles kept. Did not find anything that suited my budget. By the time I came back for the £55 cycle, someone else had taken it. The Bike Station had taught me the first lesson I learnt in Edinburgh.

How many times in our lives have we kept things waiting for the proverbial sunnier day? We keep living with the want – the want of a better day. We seldom see the beauty of the blank slate given to us each morning.

A sad day

Today I felt sad. All I could see in our news channels was the tirade which was traded between L K Advani and Dr. Manmohan Singh. Ideological differences kept aside for a moment, I do not think that two Indians, who are as old as my grandparents, must share such sharp words. I yearn to see the respect they ought to have for each other. When such mature, responsible people begin to speak thus, I start losing hope.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Your vote counts!

I am writing this in urgency. We have another 4 days before our people go to poll booths around the country to vote for the first phase of the elections to the 15th Lok Sabha. Two experiences over the past few weeks have forced me to write something of this sort.
1. During a talk show in CNN IBN, which Rajdeep Sardesai hosted, one of the panellists, when talking about the middle class of West Bengal said, ‘The middle class of India is the most untrustworthy. More than half of them do not even come to vote.’(Not quoted verbatim).
2. Tarun Vijay (columnist for the Times of India and editor for an RSS weekly) spoke of the ‘English speaking and writing middle class’ as being ones who ‘discuss big issues, but do little; expecting others to make the changes’. (Again, this is the gist of an article he had written).

Now, if you are reading this message, you are a part of the ‘untrustworthy English speaking and writing middle class of India’.

I do not want the ‘middle class’ to prove these commentators wrong. But I want our people to get involved. Let’s make the choice today, which will define where we stand tomorrow. Let’s all go to the polling station on Election Day. Jai Hind!