Thursday, September 4, 2014

Beyond the glass...

As the metro races towards another stoppage, distinctly blurring the New Delhi skyline, I realize I cannot do much to keep myself entertained. At each station, the mob scratches, shrieks and somehow, finally claws their way in to occupy the space available. I look at them, horrified, and quickly stretch my hand out to grasp on to anything that will ensure a stable ride. The brilliant novel, I thought I would finally read, has to go back inside my bag, owing to the lack of air to let those pages breathe. Finally, relying on the music to get me through forty five minutes of torture on the blue line of Delhi metro, I begin to get comfortable in the meager space available. Between skipping songs on my phone and feeling like an atom in a solid (remember the fourth standard science book and the diagrammatic representation of atoms in solids, liquids and gases!), I lift my head occasionally to observe the world beyond the huge glass. The view of ever rising cuboids of concrete add to the misery and I wonder why I am not in the wild right now. I keep watching though, battered and rammed in from all sides. The skyline is getting boring now, but one building suddenly catches my attention. It's the Police headquarters with a mural of Mahatma Gandhi. I have always been apprehensive about accepting him as a great man. He must have been a good person but not all good men can make good decisions. I try to ignore that this bald man has become omnipresent - in murals on giant buildings and on the paper that can buy anything in the world.

Music changes. People get in and out. Chaos and Distractions. Bridges and gravel roads,and then a stretch of some 200 slum cottages looms into view. A few kids are bathing in an adjacent water body, which looks more like an open drain. My mind starts whirring and a sadness descends when I take in the gravity of the situation. Before I can reassemble my frowning face into a more composed one, another building comes into view. It doesn't seem like a special building, what with its gray walls and boring, dusty windows. But unlike many others, this one has a row of flags of different countries facilitating it. This makes it a different building, not a special one.My near-sighted eyes adjust to identify any sign of uniqueness, ultimately showing me that it is the World Health Organisation, which turns out to be a catastrophe! The good people sit in this building. They are supposed to make things right in the world. Turning my head to catch the last glimpse of that dwelling ground of misery and those unfazed young ones, believing the polluted, insanitary water body to be their grand swimming pool, I realize that this building is a mockery of what we believe in. Have the principles and passion of this house of noble endeavours, been tossed out into that drain?

I think of the kids again, and feel overwhelmed and also confused. They looked happy somehow. Perhaps, their noses have accepted the pungent smell and their hearts have allowed them to believe that this is their Holy Ganges, maybe enough to cleanse their destiny. Perhaps.