Posts Tagged ‘humanity’


Tobby was hopping from one spot to another nervously in an attempt to escape those prying eyes. Perhaps he had overstayed on the generous bits of bread crumbs. Being surrounded with so many people, in a way that he was meant to perform, was not his thing.  Tobby, my accidental balcony-visitor pigeon, injured his leg a month ago. After applying antibiotic ointment and bandaging the injured area loosely, I called the security guard to take and hearten him for doing what he does best- fly! It was more than 2 days but he was still not able to take the plunge. Every morning when I crossed the parking lot I could see his struggle, twitching from one corner to another and perching himself besides the morsels of bread.  The fight was real.

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What made it worst was the assumption of callous overgrown kids that he will launch into the air with constant “Shooooo’s”. His strident cry was clearing stating that it was not pleasant to be reminded that, now, he is incapable of something which is supposed to be his only talent. Of course he was trying, but every time he was missing the dart.  The next day, two more pigeons followed him and this made him flutter aggressively. May be the pigeon buddies were trying to up his morale but it alarmed him more. That was it. I brought him back, housed him in the balcony with enough food and left him on his own. No pestering. No clapping. No prying eyes. And definitely no shooooooo’s.

Next morning he woke up different. He glanced at the balcony edges, slithered himself across the old bean bag and started moving his legs in unison. Look at him! I shrieked in excitement. Next thing I see is he confidently clamped on the balcony railing waiting for the ultimate moment of freedom.

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Tobby was done with trying to fulfill everybody’s expectations; he was done with seeking validation from others; he was done with being exposed to judgments that were dime a dozen. He realized that mob has no face, just unidentified screaming heads who do not wish well for anyone. He didn’t want to figure out anything more. He just wanted to be happy and embark on a journey whose pace was determined by him, and only him. He rose to his feet, started flapping wings and finally gained the thrust for his maiden undogmatic and enjoyable flight.

Possibly Tobby’s story is the inspiration somebody with broken wings needs to hear today.

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P.S: All pictures are a result of Google search and I have no copyright over them.

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There is a scene in Lion in which Nicole Kidman reveals to her on-screen son Dev Patel that she was never infertile but she chose to adopt him because she wanted to give a better life and a second chance to someone less privileged. This pretty much sums up the essence of director Garth Davi’s directorial venture Lion; hope, second chance, warmth and unconditional family bonding.

As we know by now, Lion is based on the true story of Saroo Brierley who got separated from his family at the age of 5, gets adopted by an Australian family and after 25 years emerges victorious in his quest for his biological mother with the help of Google earth. On paper, it looks a simple yet unique story. But, what Garth Davi brought out on screen is bound to pull your heart strings and moist your eyes for sure.

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Lion starts with five year old Saroo, played brilliantly by Sunny Pawar, pilfering coal lumps off a train with his brother Guddu. The fact that they exchange these coals for mere two milk packets-while craving for Jalebi– speaks volume about their financial condition. They take it home proudly to their mother, a labourer, who serves it in a bowl as their dinner. Few minutes more into the movie, Saroo is 1600 Kms away from his hometown Khandwa. He gets lost and is tragically transported to Calcutta, West Bengal (the story starts in 1986 so Calcutta, not Kolkata) in a passenger train. Alone, hungry, homeless, with no one to understand his language, Saroo’s journey becomes more heartbreaking with every passing minute. You can see him roaming the busy streets of Calcutta with a cardboard sheet as his bed. You just keep praying and whispering that nothing unfortunate comes his way. His runny nose, dirty nails, torn clothes and soiled hair will remind you of several kids you come across daily either begging or sleeping under a subway. Escaping human traffickers twice, Saroo lands up in a swarming orphanage from where gets adopted by an Australian couple played by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham.

Life changes for good. Saroo (now Dev Patel) grows up to be a well-settled ‘Aussie’ and a hotel management student. However, a fleeting glimpse of Jalebi at an Indian friend’s house brings back all those old memories. He relies majorly on Google Earth and his vague visions to locate a place that he doesn’t even remember the name of. We see him go through a series of emotions when his efforts fail to lead him anywhere. He is obsessed, he is helpless, he is recluse, he is angry….he is anything but happy. We can relate to his agony and ordeal at every point. Until one day he maps out his home, like literally.

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Lion unearths what coming back to home means, what finding out yourself amidst all chaos means, what believing in miracle means, and what family means. You will also know why it is called Lion. When Saroo finally meets Kamala, his biological mother, you can feel the embrace, the squeeze, the kiss and the tears. Back home, I wish I had my mother to do the same. Lion will break your heart. Carry some tissues with you while watching this one because the lump-in-throat moments are many in the film.

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 P.S: Much like the protagonist of Lion, even I have relied on Google for images. All images are result of Google search and I have no copyright over them. 


This Diwali was special. It had to be for many reasons. First, it was my initial attempt to celebrate the biggest festival of my country as a married woman (Phewww that sounds like lot of pressure and hype!!) Second, it was my hubby’s much anticipated birthday. And most importantly I was on a vacation that screamed adventure from Day 1. It was the Diwali day– the festival of lights; our vacation was over and we were giving rest to our acutely worn-out legs at the Delhi airport, waiting uncomplainingly for our next flight. What I didn’t know that this festival would become doubly memorable in the next few hours.

The entire airport was given a larger-than-life appearance; from mammoth lanterns and diyas, LED lightings, idols of Peacock (national bird of India), staff dressed in traditional attires, to usage of national and international languages on Diwali greetings. From the look of it, it was a delight for every passenger regardless of their nationality.

All with one sole reason- reminding passengers of our rich culture! Appreciated!!!

Everything was going well until Ratul, my husband, saw a woman of foreign origin weeping profusely at the other end. He immediately sprang up from his seat.

“Something is wrong with her. We need to check.”

“She must have come to drop someone at the airport and feeling emotional. It would look stupid if we probe. Sit down.” I smirked.

“Yes, but if you go and ask it won’t invite much trouble. My going would seem like a desperate man trying to friends with a firang.” He had a point.

I tried to amuse him with talks so that the rest time for my legs get extended to few minutes more.

“Fine. Go ahead. I want to see how good you are at flirting.”

“Please don’t joke. Look she is crying more now.”

“Okay. What do I get in return if I go?” We both started laughing letting our imagination run wild.

“Don’t ask me such questions or I will start my cheesy talks again.”

Undoubtedly going to the crying woman seemed more suitable at that time. I brushed the indolent expression aside and donned a more considerate expression.

“Hey is everything alright? I mean, you seem little distressed. Can I help you with something?”

She looked away and started crying again. I didn’t know how to react. Before I could think of calling any policeman there, a girl in her early 20s walked in with a club sandwich in her hand and offered that to the woman.

“Excuse me…do you know her? Actually my husband and I saw her crying so got little worried. You know her?” I asked.

“No didi. I just saw her this morning, just like you guys. Her name is Chlo. I don’t know the full name but she is here since last night. She had a direct flight from Goa to Delhi, but at the last moment Air India changed that into a connecting flight via Mumbai and because of some delay she missed her Air Canada flight and now she is stuck here. The worst part is that her Visa is going to expire tomorrow. She has not eaten anything so I got this for her.” She pointed at the sandwich.

“Okay. But talking to Air India will solve the problem. That’s not an issue I guess.” I was brimming with self-confidence and pride that when you are at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) nothing can go wrong. After all, we are taught since childhood that Athiti Devo Bhava (guests are god). Even Aamir Khan says so!

I was getting wide-eyed with my confidence when she intervened. “You think so didi? I have been trying that since morning; ran from one official to another. She even spoke to Air India officials but no one is willing to extend a helping hand.”

“How is that possible? That sounds little weird. I mean…..”

“What happened?” I was interrupted with Ratul’s query. He couldn’t control and finally jumped in the conversation. In the next 10 minutes he was told the entire story. In a fraction of second he passed the trolley luggage to me and went straight to the police official at the entry of visitor’s gate. This was followed by few other security officials. While the three of us followed him in a baffled state.

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“By the way, I am Dyutima Sharma. I am an Mphil student at Calcutta University. Originally from Bhopal.”

And an impromptu chit chat followed to lighten the tense situation.

“Nice to meet you Dyutima. I am Indrani Majumdar. I am a writer by profession.”

“Oh woow. Writer. Sounds good. Have you written any book till now?

“Ummm…yes…will tell you more about it.”

Meanwhile, there were many pseudo-humans who came, listened to the complete anecdote, sympathized and walked out saying “dekh lo beta tum log”?(You guys manage). A fellow passenger, probably to gather some fun, arrived at the scene and started spilling suggestions. “Book a ticket and go. As simple as that.” He said.

“She obviously doesn’t have money. She is a nurse and came here for some social service. Moreover, it happened because of the chaos of the connecting flight, why would she pay?” Dyutima retorted. In return, he rendered a vicious assault in the form of his next comment. “Then get stuck here poor woman.” He chuckled, made fun with hand gestures and walked away.

And there we were again!!!! All the big talks of Athiti Devo Bhava lay bare in front of Chlo. No matter how much you clean the city and endorse respecting humanity in front of the whole world, truth has a way to come to the surface. We felt naked in front of a person who came India for work and probably now will have a bad experience to narrate to people of her country. Situations like this can gnaw at your heart for a considerably long time. It was shameful. “If you can’t give hope then at least shut up.” Dyutima shouted at the top of her voice. While the man gave offensive looks as if he was abused.

Ratul kept moving from one place to another but everywhere he was shown the door with a remark “Ab kya kar sakte hai!” (What can be done now!) This remark was a cue that nothing can be done–you go now–do your own work– let us do ours– this woman will find her own way. In another 20 minutes we were caught in this whirlpool of flawed management. But, when a person is determined all cues go for a miss. I saw a remarkable comprehension of humanity in Ratul and Dyutima. Both of them refused to believe that there was no way out.

Ratul went to the customer support desk of Air India and argued for some time. “Please don’t repeat saying that nothing can be done. Of course something could be done. I want the phone number of airport manager.” I sensed restlessness in him. At last some ray of hope was seen when we got the number of Air Canada office. Alas, even that hope was being trampled upon mercilessly when the officials said that there is no facility of ISD calling from there. We kept inquiring that how do we call then. One of the staff said rudely, “Apne number se kar lo na call agar itna hi hai to.” (Call from your own number if you are so concerned). It was not the time to get into further loud bearish arguments so Ratul requested politely to guide regarding the phone call. Finally, we were asked to go downstairs.

Ratul asked Dyutima and me to wait as it was getting problematic to roam around with luggage. Chlo handed over her luggage to me and went with Ratul. Dyutima and I found a place to sit and waited in bated breath.

“Your boarding will start in another 1 hour. Aren’t you worried that you may miss your flight” I asked Dyutima looking at my watch.

“Yes I am worried, but you know didi I just don’t want Chlo to leave with a feeling that all Indians are uncooperative and awkward. I know eventually she will go, but I just want to stay for as long as I can. Change will come if we all at an individual level begin to change. Even my father says the same thing.”

I was amazed at the level of thoughtfulness she had at such a relatively young age.

“So didi what is your book about?” She asked with gleaming eyes.

“Ummm…it’s about eunuchs…transgender you can say…Its called The Paradox of Vantage Point. I am just rooting for a society in which all of us can peacefully co-exist without any kind of prejudice, and basically my story is about that.”

“Eunuch? Great I learnt a new word today. Someday I can even do my project on this topic because my subject is clinical psychology.”

“Of course you can. This is a good topic to explore.”

We plunged into an hour-long meaningful dialogue during which we spoke only about the solemn hope of making the world a better place in our own way, which was highly unlikely, considering two girls in their 20s were involved. On a normal day, you don’t see young people ditching their Facebook and latest shopping talks. Time was running fast. Dyutima was getting late for her boarding and so were we. I called up Ratul.

“Indrani I don’t know what is happening. She has called Air Canada and they have kept her for hold and she has discussed her problem already with 3 representatives, repeating the same story again and again. Now she is crying.”

“Ratul, Dyutima has to leave and so does we…I am worried.”

“I know..I know…But we can’t leave her midway crying like this…At least somebody has to take her responsibility. Her visa would expire tomorrow. Wait….somebody has responded to her..let me call you back.” He disconnected the phone. I kept urging Dyutima to leave, but she insisted to stay for 10 more minutes.

Finally the jigsaw puzzle started falling in place when I saw Ratul and Chlo coming out. A picture of happiness slowly started revealing itself.

He said smiling ear-to-ear .“Air Canada agreed to book her a ticket for midnight but she has to pay a certain amount, at least slightly lesser than the original amount.” It was the first time in those two hours when Chlo was smiling and we had emotions speaking through our moist eyes.

“I hope you have a safe journey and take care about connecting flights next time.” I advised.

We had a group hug. She folded her hands said “Namaste” and walked out.

I didn’t waste time in capturing the moment in my phone.

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Ever heard that when there is a will, there is a way? Well, someone just did that in front of my eyes.

I whispered in Ratul’s ears, “From where do you draw strength for all this?”

“Just one thing—always place yourself in the shoes of the sufferer. What if we go to Canada someday and are mocked the same way in time of crisis. I don’t know whether Chlo had any fault in this, but at least a basic level of kindness and guidance could have helped that girl a lot.” He smiled.

We keep ranting about humanity and compassion all day on Facebook and Twitter. But, when it comes to practicing it in real life, very few Ratul and Dyutima come out in open. Very few show the grit to overcome the limitations of an ordinary conscience. The epidemic of apathy is slowly engulfing each one of us, and thus sadly we don’t have ‘time’ for anyone else. For me, I had seen two real people today who didn’t believe in diluting goodness. Thankfully I am living with one of them.

As we started walking towards our respective boarding gates Dyutima said, “I know why you clicked the picture. You are going to write about this. Right?”

“I am a writer. I am always in hunt of stories. But you two gave something more than story to me today.” I winked and signed off.


While the whole country was busy in peeping into controversies of LaMo (Lalit Modi) and striking some innovative Yoga poses, a gentle and compassionate soul associated with Missionaries of Charity—that runs various leprosy centers, soup kitchens and home for women across 134 countries–breathed her last.

Nirmala Joshi, recognized worldwide as Sister Nirmala, who in 1997 succeeded Nobel Prize winner Mother Teresa as superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, passed away yesterday i.e. 23 June 2015 in Kolkata.

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Serving humanity selflessly with the aid of Missionaries of Charity was her only goal in life. Being chosen to fill in the shoes of Mother Teresa could have been highly intimidating for anyone. However, if someone is passionate about the realm of responsibility they are getting into, nothing can pin them down.

No wonder when she was questioned about carrying forward the legacy of Mother Teresa, she was quick to respond, “I never try to fill her shoes. I have to wear my own small shoes. I don’t have to be Mother Teresa, just Sister Nirmala, and being Sister Nirmala isn’t so difficult. If I had to be Mother Teresa, I would have collapsed.” Such was her level of willpower and fortitude when she sunk her teeth into this challenge. In the year 2009, she was awarded the second highest civilian award—Padma Vibhushan—for her immense contribution and devotion to underprivileged people.

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The legacy of superior general position of the Missionaries of Charity will continue like always. However, the act of serving humanity is not just restricted to a position. Her legacy can be continued by each one of us. How? Practice kindness and compassion to the best of your capacity. Look around and see if there is anyone who needs your help. Patronize people who show the impetus to break out of the confines of stereotypes. Raise your voice against wrongdoers and above all try to be a better human being. Sounding little theoretical? Well, benevolence is more like a volcano; it remains dormant unless a ghastly situation tries to trigger and shows you the mirror. Are you willing to wait for that?

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Her loss can only be replenished by accepting and following her true virtues. For her painstaking efforts, true free spirit, and altruistic body of work, my appreciation for Sister Nirmala knows no bounds.

“We don’t know who we are until we see what we can do.” – Martha Grimes

P.S: All pictures are a result of Google search and I have no copyright over them.