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Monday, October 13, 2014

Tonga - The Lost Shahi Sawaris

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These days having a car (the more gadgets in it the better) or an expensive motorcycle, is considered fashionable. It has become a status symbol of sorts. Roads in Pune (or for that matter my hometown too) are crowded with fancy cars, bikes, and the three wheeler taxis that zoom past at neck breaking speed. I often see children of around 10-15 years, zooming around without fear on bikes and wonder how their parents allow them.

There are very few bicycles and the Tonga rides that I loved have become relic of the past.

I grew up in Papua New Guinea and came back to India at the age of 16 in 1983. I remember the lovely Tonga rides from my childhood. There was a time when my hometown had a lot of Togas and it was the most common form of transport. I remember going to school in Usmaan Uncle’s Tonga. All the children sitting together, chatting, giggling, laughing..the water bottles hanging on a hook at the side..

Tonga rides for me were a unique experience. I always felt like Cinderella. The rides had a romantic feel to them..the tap tap of the horse’s hoof..the conversations with the tonga-wala bhaiyas..and the tinkling of the all took me to a totally different realm. .the nawab-like feeling was amazing.

Togas were once considered a shahi sawari (a royal ride).  Alas..gone are the days of the Tongas. The Tongas are fast dwindling..restricted mostly to tourist spots.

The ever-growing population, the fast pace of modern life, the fancy cars, buses, bikes and auto-rickshaws have forced  the Togas off the roads into oblivion. The pollution of petrol and diesel, the smoke of burnt tyres, and the fear of being run over by maniac drivers are all we are left with.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Never Ending Performance

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तुम इतना जो मुस्कुरा रहे हो 
क्या ग़म है जिसको छुपा रहे हो 

Her: “All these lively happy poems on nature, love, moonlight and all..I envy you ! You are always so happy, always smiling..its amazing how someone can always smile so much ! “

I hear her and smile, wondering if she has never heard the famous phrase ‘’smile and the whole world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone. ‘’

Fact is people do not want to listen to somebody else’s problems. People do not share grief..they pass judgments. It is so easy to look at another and make quick judgment and jump to your own conclusions. Most people do not take the trouble to look beyond the smiles and laughter; they do not see the pain and tears that the smiles hide.

I have always found it difficult to share my grief and pain with others and so I mask my feelings. Smiling is my way of dealing with my pain and fears. Silence is my armor. I have become so good at masking my feelings of pain that I sometimes feel as if I am in a never ending theater performance. I guess that is what we all are at the end of the day – actors on the great stage of life. It is the price of living in society. It comes with the package.