The IMD predicted a scant monsoon this year, so it has been raining heavily all through June, and incessantly over the last few days. And I love it as much as ever, surrounded as I am by space, quiet and greenery. Things are far worse in the metros, I know, but it is good to hear that Calcuttans are now much better off than those in Mumbai, from what I get to hear from my family and ex students. Anyway, as I have always maintained, I shall never live in an anthill, unless I earn five lakhs a month post taxes at least, and can work from home. If I have to move about for a living, it had better be fifteen lakhs, and preferably a police car with a red beacon and hooter following me about. When I think of good living, I don’t think smartphones: I was not born a gwala’s son.
Physiotherapy is stopping just short of torture, did you know that? It comforts and it hurts, and slowly the latter’s proportion increases until they stop just before you think you are going to yell. I’ve been given crutches now, by the way. It hurts still, so I am interspersing it with the walker. I have defied doctor’s orders to go upstairs, and to visit the bank once already. But anything like normal will be another three months at least. I should have broken a bone 35 years ago: kids grow so fast! … this boy Hasan is good. I have promised to fetch him a lot of custom. He charges just one hundred rupees for a one-on-one session, can you believe it? It makes me see red when I think of so many people his age or thereabouts, whose ‘work’ does not have a hundredth of the social value, earning ten times that much. Many tens of millions should thank God that someone like me would never become a socialist dictator.
Surveillance and parenting and Big Brother. I posted a cartoon on the other blog, now read this article. Thank God again I quit that school before smoking on campus was banned, and the day they make it mandatory to install CCTV cameras in my classroom I am going to call it a day. All workplaces are becoming what prisons and lunatic asylums used to be only fifty years ago: that’s progress for you. Bengali readers, have you watched Ichchhe yet? Recognized somebody you know?
My daughter’s college life starts next week. With her, it’s almost become a time-honoured tradition to read history in our family. I couldn’t (or so I thought in my youth) afford it, so it feels good to think I have at least played a part in enthusing a few others in the days when they were growing up. Sad that I couldn’t pass it on to any of my thousands of bright kids, so many of whom have discovered in their mid-twenties or even later that history is a far more interesting subject than engineering!
I have passed yet another milestone in my life: a very pretty young thing actually asked to be petted in class (ador koro)! Soon I’ll give them permission to call me dadu. As for sitting under a tree in the rain at Humayun’s tomb, I guess Krishna wants I reserve that for Pupu alone in this lifetime. I have got much without asking; I shall not insult myself any more by asking those who cannot even understand what they were being given.
How much Indians care about things that matter (such as saving life and limb from road accidents) as opposed to say cricket and skirt lengths and ‘rights’ for homosexuals has always been an issue close to my heart (along with peeing by the roadside), as countless ex students can aver. That Indian roads have become the most dangerous in the world is, for obvious reasons, no longer just a statistic for me, if it ever was. I would give a very great deal to see laws enacted and enforced that would make our roads safer for our children. Mine was a typical hit and run case, with the biker driving at high speed along the wrong side of a national highway running alongside a very busy marketplace. And he got away without a scratch, without a beating, without a fine. Just one of thousands of such incidents happening every day in this wretched country. I insist, it will never happen in any truly civilized country, and that is an infinitely more important index of development than autorickshaw drivers using smartphones. Alas, what hope is there in a country where university educated folks in their thirties and forties are imbecile enough not to know what matters and what doesn’t? This I know – if their fathers, brothers and husbands became roadkill or were maimed for life, they’d weep for a week or two and then ‘move on’. With such an ‘educated and enlightened’ populace, what wonder that the government doesn’t care? Last year, after Gopinath Munde’s tragic death, the Modi sarkar had promised to bring in a tough amended road law – that seems to have died a quiet death, as this report says. Our aam janta is at one with the auto lobbies in wishing more and ever more vehicles with wild and reckless drivers on the roads: a few lakh lives lost and a million or so temporarily or permanently crippled is too small a price to bother about. And if we are intellectuals or hacks, we must spare time to think about terrorists – after all, they kill hundreds a year, don’t they?
This is a link to some people who do care. Think: could you do something to help them? For your own sake and for your loved ones?