The day started on a high note. Chiya started saying OK instead of her normal “nahi” (No, for the uninitiated in the Hindi Language) this morning.
A Unisex Parlor had this hilarious signage outside.........Facial, massage, shave, ladies hair cutting, gents hair cutting, baby cutting (Huh! What was that again?).
Why am I surprised? During my last job, every day on my way back from office this thelawala was proudly selling Gobi Mangurian to unsuspecting victims!
Then the day deteriorated. I stopped at a traffic signal. Saw a guy selling flags (he was from a minority community whose patriotism is often questioned in these difficult times) and proudly lowered my window to buy some - one for the house, one for my car, one for Rashmi’s car, but not if they cost more than 20Rs a piece, see how we set a limit to our patriotism – when thak-thak – (incidentally, thak-thak reads as think tank on my MS Word dictionary and there is a meaning to that as well) someone knocked on the other window – one of those numerous beggars who run an alternate economy on each traffic signal in the city – a woman, no less (at least one job where women are being given better than equal opportunity in this country) and let me be honest, my first shameless thought was – there goes a clean, disinfected window. That was before I noticed the child – maybe 4 yrs old, ordinary, just like hundreds of others roaming the streets, conceived precisely to do this job, in a country which guarantees education as a fundamental right to all children of the age of 6 to 14 years, and I don’t think his luck was going to change in 2 yrs time, for him to claim his legal rights. In principle, right or wrong, I don’t support begging, not that I do anything else about it either, so I shooed them away and watched that child limp away (yes, he was limping and I could make out that one of his nails was sticking out of his toe – accident? Perhaps), till the signal turned green. Green happens to be one of the most significant colors in our national flag and it provided me my escape route.
I did not buy the flag. It cost less than my 20 Rs patriotism limit. I was wondering what that child, who will not be set free, ever, was thinking about all this? When will his independence day come?
A few days before Independence Day, a rich man’s kid (I don’t resent him that) won a Gold medal in the Olympics (I am proud of him) and we set out making him richer still. State Govt. after State Govt. went about showering lavish cash rewards on him (taxpayers money, mind you – money better spent elsewhere, and not necessarily even on sports in a country where education is not available to all). Most newspapers covered him on multiple pages for multiple days, while little kids like the one I wrote about earlier were hawking the same newspapers on the streets.
And of course there is the electronics media, spends more time covering events like two celebrities kissing (breaking news, no less) than they would cover the plight of these kids. I wonder where the sannate ko cheerti hui sanshani, that we need so much is.
Happy Independence Day everyone!
EDIT (19th August)
My Apologies to Times of India. They came up with a wonderful campaign called Teach India http://www.teach.timesofindia.com/ on 15th August.
Shobha De published an Article on TOI on 17th August which bears an uncanny resemblance to this post of mine! (Mera Bharat Kahan - TOI 17th August, Page 12 - Read it @ http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Daily/skins/TOI/navigator.asp?Daily=TOIBG&login=default&AW=1219145335343)