Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mobile Mania

Talking on the mobile is the latest fashionable mania in India. It appears that mobile users have suddenly unearthed, hitherto, unknown relatives, friends and acquaintances and, by some magic have developed such camaraderie with them that chatting has become compulsive, bordering on addiction. It is hard to understand how, all of a sudden, people have attained the traits of being jolly, friendly and inseparable from each other at least through the airways. Like a smoker who touches his pocket every now and then to make sure that he carries a packet of cigarettes, the mobile users may forget anything but their set. It is a common sight to see a group of ladies having a walk with mobiles in their hand. For some, the use of the instrument has become as essential, as eating and sleeping. It is always a mystery to me, who, on the other end is so free and available, to be ready to indulge in the craze at all times. This tiny machine has made inroads into our personal lives in an unwholesome way. It enables young boys and girls to fix their rendezvous with each other very conveniently, circumventing the prying eyes and ears of their elders. It has become a sort of status symbol for the modern teens. The mobile companies leave no stone unturned to lure the youngsters through their innovative advertisements. “Don’t you think this newly created bonhomie will soon be translated into ‘too much familiarity breeds contempt’ syndrome?” A redeeming picture however -which is observable- is the constant smile which plays on people’s faces while engrossed in conversing.

The other day I witnessed an actual maddening act, on the part of a motorcyclist that would provide a novel idea even to the stuntmen. The man had tilted his head to an angle of 90 degrees and ensconced between his bent head and shoulder, was the object of this discussion. In this dangerously precarious position, he was busy chattering to glory, totally unmindful of the grave danger; his idiocy was posing to himself and others. None dared to intervene, because of past experience of lack of support by other road users, and the fear of what the roguish offender may do to you.

Another uncommon , but surely the one, which would be ubiquitous soon, is the picture perfect scenario of two persons on a scooter, and the one riding the pillion, holding the mobile near the ear of the driver who was talking incessantly, as if there is no tomorrow. People glued to it on roads, pathways, parks, rickshaws or driving a four wheeler is too common a sight to be mentioned.

This little object has taken away the element of surprise from our lives. When my children ask me for some ‘navi tajji’ (any news), I smile and point out that talking on phone so very frequently does not leave any new thing to be shared. We no longer sleep over any news. It has to be transmitted instantly and the mobile provides the perfect chance by its easy proximity. The peculiar emotion associated with waiting and being patient is replaced by instant satisfaction. Likewise the visual media has robbed us of our peace of mind, 24x7 keeping us excited by flooding our drawing rooms with minute to minute news of the world.

One of the major gainers of this invention to my mind is producers of family serials which are churned by Television channels day in and day out. For the writers of the daily episodes it has become so much easier with the pizzazz of machinations and conspiracies hatched and executed within the four walls, thanks to the perennial availability and various misuses of this very instrument.

It certainly has become a potent weapon for extortionists, kidnappers and rogues of all types, to scare their victims to compliance of their demands by issuing threats with the simulated blood curdling pitch of their voice from anywhere, anytime.

No doubt this medium of communication has helped the growth of small businesses and many other benefits accrue through it. But the wastage of time in frivolous talk is no prudence and should be religiously avoided. All said and done, life without this petite wonder now is unthinkable!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Rain in the Mountains

I had come to the hills-Kumarhatti to be precise- to beat the heat of the plains. However, I was dismayed by the unexpected, unending dry spell. The morning walk was a stifling routine, sans pleasure; dust powdering the face and hair with the passing of every vehicle. Fortunately, last week of June proved blissful and heavenly for us and the withering vegetation on mountain slopes and sun scorched earth. For two successive days the rain gods showered their benedictions profusely. It drizzled, it rained and it poured. It was a much needed respite for wilting plants, shrubs and trees; yellow lifeless grass and parched soil. The spell of rain kindled life into tiny blades of grass which turned green overnight as if by a conjuring trick. The majestic pine trees regained their glory with pine needles exhibiting well rounded confidence. The hopes and prayers of hill people fructified and they got back their cheer and charm. Their hand pumps resumed pumping water and womenfolk were saved the back breaking chore of bringing water from distances. The dried up natural springs, water channels and rivulets sprang to life and beckoned the passers by, “Oh! Splash our water on your hot bodies and cool yourself inside out.”
The magic wrought by nature has to be seen to be believed. The refreshing walk after the rains threw a veritable visual feast of green shoots of plants and foliage which appeared suddenly and winked naughtily at us as if saying, “Aren’t you convinced now that this is Dev Bhoomi where gods and goddesses reside amongst simple, pious and uncorrupted people”. The lines written on the backs of their vehicles like jai Santoshi Ma, Bhawani Ma, Gango Ma, jai Shiv Bhole Nath and scores of others amply prove their unshakeable faith. The bounty of timely rains further strengthens theirs deeply religious beliefs. They express their gratitude through special prayers and midnight bhajan congregations. Many houses are afloat with tiny temple like structures on their roofs with red or yellow flags fluttering overhead.
After this, much sought after downpour, the tenements of locals looked washed and bright. The mood all around was upbeat and nothing could upstage the healthy, soothing and tickling cool of the weather, which was going to herald rejuvenation of man and nature in equal measure.
While lounging on the sofa and looking through the window, I could sense the hill slopes fully animated after quenching their thirst and having a tête-à-tête with the rain drops falling musically on the earth. While eavesdropping I could make out what the rain drops were murmuring to the slopes, “Don’t you worry, we would always be there for you to redress your grievances.”
Rains are the lifeline of agriculturists in hills. Over the next few days I saw neatly prepared small beds on the slopes being planted with rows and rows of tomato and bell pepper (Shimla Mirch) saplings and also seeds being sown for maize and other crops.
Since July the rainy season is in full swing. The rhythmic fall of raindrops lulls me into a wonderful feeling of inactivity filled with sweet day dreaming off and on. The sight of milky white sheets of clouds over the clear blue sky, after the rain stops and when sun tries to peek through the drifting clouds showcases a visual canvas of nature’s deft strokes. This game of ‘Hide and Seek’ between the sun and clouds is played many a time during the day. In the backdrop of approaching dusk the shapely tops of pines; swinging from side to side in the breeze gives the illusion of befriending the skies. The charisma of such wonders of nature instills hope in the human heart and leads one out of the furrows of day- to- day existence.
In hills rains have a distinct personality. Normally they come and go at their own sweet will. No warning is proclaimed in the form of rumbling and gurgling of thunder and flashes of white light of lightning. Even in the course of a single day the number of visitations of this beautiful entity can be counted. They arrive like a guest who is always welcome and is extended another invite before he departs. Unlike in plains it rains here in straight lines as if it passes through a mammoth sieve up above. Also it produces a soft and friendly musical beat minus slants and sweeps.
Thanks to the elixir of abundant rainfall, different varieties of flowers, bordering the flats have started blooming unannounced in a kaleidoscope of rioting colours in our complex. The journey from bud to blossom was sudden and short like a young girl’s developing curves and bright skin tone quite abruptly on attaining puberty.
Now and then, within minutes the whole area gets engulfed in mist, rising from the flanks of the mountains and visibility is considerably reduced. And at other times the outside is clouded with haze selectively and only parts of the scene are discernible. And then in no time mist is blown away showing everything so clearly once again. And one exclaims, “What a sight!! Is it Alice’s Wonderland? ” “How could Ruskin Bond not get inspired by such picture perfect natural settings for penning his inimitable short stories?”
In the midst of such splendour and indescribable beauty my head bows in gratitude for the munificence which nature bestows on us and my mind echoes John Keats’ line, “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.”