Friday, February 28, 2014


The days were humid and restless…in Kolkata. I had spent a few days, but somehow, the humidity was beyond my tolerance.

Still I have not been spending my whole day in the AC room. The stream of sweat was oozing out of every pore of my body and constant intake of liquid was a must. In the quest of searching joy in Kolkata, I met with Rampravesh. He was standing with his cart (which runs on man power and two wheels). For me perhaps, it was more like a game of carts where your character pulls the cart to the finishing line. But for him it was no game, it was his livelihood. Even in the game, the distance ends on the finishing line, but here the distance was perhaps life-long.

ये हम अपने नहीं करता साहब। बीवी है, बच्चा है, क्या करेगा? पेट तो भरना ही है साहेब।..” (I do it for the life of my wife and children.)

His eyes were piercing my heart. He was 43 years old, 5.4 perhaps, weatish brown, lean…I could count the bones of his ribs. I remember, centuries ago, the age of slaves, they were brutalized and tortured to an extent which is perhaps hard to write and imagine. I stood in 22nd century with this poor guy from Bihar. He was serving not less than a slave here. He was literally carrying people sitting in the cart for mere few rupees.

Just before I could make my way into the crowd and get lost, a woman came and sat on the cart, at least thrice the weight of the man. She ordered him to move the cart and negotiated with him for the fare as well.

Often it seems unfair and cruelty but the question is that if really seems so, what do we do to change this? We protest for rising prices of petrol, rising fare of railways and so on but what about these people? It is evident that if they would not work for a day, they would have to sleep empty-stomach along with their family.

In 2006, the government ordered a ban on such carts but provided no full proof compensation in return. A case was filed on behalf of these cart-pullers, which is still going on in the court. They all contribute an amount from their earnings (which is already minimal) towards this.

I had planned to go elsewhere today and having some delicious food but somehow, I remained there, with those meager, poor but independent people.

‘Biswas’, an another cart-puller, told me that once the government decided to replace all the carts with rickshaw but corruption’s hands gripped the plan so tightly that it choked. The rickshaws were taken by local contractors and shopkeepers, using fake names and bribing the officials. Today all those rickshaws are running on roads and money is going straight in their pockets.

‘Why don’t you sell this cart and purchase a second hand rickshaw?’

‘That’s because this cart is not mine. This belongs to a local merchant and whatever I earn, 80% goes to him.’

I was a bit amazed and disappointed. Plans after plans and committee after committee, yet they cannot roll out a single scheme to help such people. The tax we pay is spent like water on the name of these poor people, but still their condition is unchanged.

‘Biswas’ had a wife, three children and his mother. They live in slums near ‘Jaan Bazaar’. He told me that he wanted to send his children to school but he had not enough money to do so. His elder son, who is of 10, works in a Dhaba and daughter, who is 9, woks as domestic help in the house of same merchant from whom he got this cart. The youngest daughter is of 5 years old and stays at home to help her mother.

He talked about his concern regarding the marriage of his girls (who were not even teen yet). I could see lines on his forehead depended while talking about his girls. He told me with hesitation on his face that sometimes he drinks a lot to forget about his condition but as soon as he gets back into sense, same things keep on haunting him.

He told me that his condition was much better than out stationed cart-pullers. They don’t have a home to sleep in. They sleep on the pavements at night. They cannot afford a house. And they are supposed to send some money back to their village.

This man, ‘Biswas’, who lost his father due to tuberculosis, who had his mother on the verge of death, whose wife doesn’t love him (he thinks) anymore, whose daughter serves as domestic help and whose son worked in a Dhaba, had a big heart to invite me in his so called house for  some tea and snacks.

I politely refused his invitation and told him that I need to go to a friend’s marriage. I walked away from there and after walking a fair bit of distance, looked back. He was still looking at me with a big smile on his face. As soon as he realized that I was looking back, he stated to wave his hand with a great enthusiasm. 

His life was full of struggles and answerless question but yet he had the courage to carry a smile on his face. May be they do not want the hundred crore rupees plans for their rejuvenation but a few words of inspiration and love.

I kept on walking on the pavement for I don’t know how long. Finally, I stopped near another group of cart-pullers, they were laughing and singing. The sweat jumped from all over my body and I heard a chant of a Hindi poem in my ears.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


It was as usual a hot and humid day in the city. I threw myself out of the highly comforting AC room (which should reduce the punishment I am about to get for my sins after my death as it was equally painful) of an equally disturbing guest house. It was a surprise that the people living here find it so easy to obey their daily routines. The buses were loaded with people and the roads were flooded with the yellow taxis. The owners of numerous temporary shops (made on the pavements) were busy in arranging their shops to attract customers. It was their daily routine. The shopkeepers or the vendors make and break these pseudo-shops on daily basis. For me it was difficult and full of anxiety, but for them it was just life.
I stood by the tea-stall and asked him for a cup of tea, which he was already preparing. He put the tea and sugar in the milk with his hand, no spoon was required, his hand could judge and measure the right amount of tea and sugar better than a spoon.
“Pani nahi milate ho chai me?” (Don’t you use water in making tea?)
 He stared me with his victimized eyes. The dark circles just below the eyes were complementing his body color. One may not figure out his dark circles without paying constant attention upon his face. He wiped the front line of sweat-army from his forehead with his dirty towel. The second row of sweat advanced, the third row was backing-up. Chai-wala didn’t take much time to understand that his trials of wiping away the sweat was futile. As soon as he tried to open his mouth to tell me something, his attention was snatched by the boiling tea. He quickly lifted the utensil with his bare hands first and then kept it aside. His face clearly indicated how hot that utensil was. He puffed some air from his mouth on both hands and was back to work again. He held the utensil with a piece of cloth this time. The color of cloth was as mysterious as government’s policies for these poor people. He swigged the burn on his hand in the cup of his helplessness and revolved the utensil in circular motion for almost trillion times.
“Doodh me bahut jol hai,jol kyo dega? Log khayega nahi.” (The milk already has enough water)
He finally answered me with his rusty and rowdy Hindi. By that time his little chai-place was swarmed by people. He arranged little tea-glasses in a perfect straight line and poured tea in all of them without stopping while jumping from glass to glass. The first hand, which picked up the glass, was covered by an expensive watch; it was a hand of a police-wala. He was speaking to someone on his SAMSUNG ACE mobile.  
The Chai-wala raised a glass to me. The outside wall of the glass was covered by tea. And my Delhi mind started to calculate the number of bacteria and viruses in that several times used glass. I asked him for a disposable glass. He quickly took out an ultra-small disposable cup and poured the tea in that, without looking at me. His action and reaction-less face clearly indicated that I was not the first example of that Hygiene-Breed for him. The cup was small but beautiful. It was almost like the cups used for Tequila shots in pubs and bars. I took the first sip of the tea, it was the first good tea I had in Kolkata.
The Policeman finished his tea and slammed the glass on the ground. He was finished with the phone-conversation as well. He looked at the screen of his mobile like a lunatic. His face clearly indicated that he was struggling to find the disconnect button. After abusing the manufacture of this mobile, who were eventually not able to hear it, he finally disconnected the call. The Chai-wala looked at him with lots of hope and expectation. The policeman put his hand in his pants pocket and asked the poor chai-wala,
“ Daam koto re?”
“5 takka”
“Boddo goram!! Kobe je brishti hobe?”
He pulled out an off-color handkerchief from his pocket and wiped out the sweat from his entire face. He looked at his expensive watch and started crossing the road. The chai-wala’s gaze chased him until he disappeared in the crowd. The policeman was his first customer of the day, who went without paying. It was not a good omen.
I don’t know that how his earning for the day was affected by not getting those 5 rupees, but he really looked sad. His eyes looked full of anger and it had a hint of saline water in it. He drowned his right hand in a mug filled with water. An expression of relief came on his face for a minute but from the next, he was busy in collecting the money from his customers including me.     
While wandering on the pavements I saw several stalls. It was almost 10 am when I felt that my stomach needs more than tea. I moved briskly while searching for an appropriate place to eat.
‘Panna’s Kitchen’, a red board read. My stomach roared in excitement as soon as the board was visualized. I checked quickly whether anybody was noticing, and I found only me, everybody else had better things to do. I rushed towards the restaurant but my consideration was grabbed by a pleasant smell of Pratha.
An old cloth and plastic sheets were clutched by the railing of the pavement and the other side was pinned to a building. Under this awkward shade, a stove, few plates and a few utensils were resting. It was looking more like a refugee camp but to my surprises, it wasn’t. It was a hotel and the scent of Pratha made from refined oil belonged to this refuge.
A few benches were arranged on the pavement, which was the sitting arrangement. Few people were already busy filling their belly. I took a glimpse of offerings on the plate. Two beautiful Prathe with vegetable (I could recognize only potato in that) and pickle were served. I looked greedily towards the satisfied face of a middle aged man, who had just finished eating. He stood up and washed his hands on the roadside. His musical burp while washing his hands made me forget about the long lessons on hygiene, which I took in my schooldays.
Kitane ka hai?
I asked the lady serving a plate to the customer. She looked at my rather expensive dress and shoes.
“Kuri taka”
Soon, the big pieces of a Paratha (drowned in an unknown potato vegetable) were sliding into my stomach. I am not sure whether it was tasty, but it was enough to make me remember some conventional food with no sugar in vegetable. Surprisingly, I found the taste which I wanted in my food in a place which was not even a complete Dhaba. I felt the joy of eating and concluded my eating in 5 parathe.
I continued my quest of finding joy on the roadsides, pavements, mini shops, little tea-stalls, big buildings, bars, roads and monuments till the sun started to set in the west and shade of night started to gobble-up some street light-less places. I started walking towards my obnoxious guest house crossing the streets of Kolkata…city of joy.

Back-ache: Causes and remedies.

The population of the world is increasing day by day and so as the problems related to health. A huge part of the population work in offices and they ignore the physical labor which results in yet another problem in our kitty and that is as cosmopolitan as human being-backache. In this article we are going to discuss some of the most ignored causes and some of the easiest remedies. This article would also contain few of the fact about the backache but let’s start busting few of the myths first.
Myths buster
1. ‘Sit straight to prevent backache’ has become an old quote which does not works now. Slouching is definitely bad but sitting straight for the longer period of time can cause in back pain.
2. Taking rest while you are suffering with back pain is nice but resting for longer period of time may backfire and the problem may become worst.
3. Lifting the heavy things cause back pain is partially correct because it depends on how you lift heavy things instead of how much you lift.
4. It is really not momentous that only injuries can trigger the back ache. Dis-degeneration, infections, diseases and even hereditary conditions can start this issue
5. Anorexia and eating habits can result in bone-loss which of course can be a major cause of back pain. 
Causes and facts related to back pain
There are countless reasons of backbone. Our medical science is not so developed yet that it can identify all the causes of back pain. In the researches it has been discovered that bones are not the reason of pain, it is ligament and muscles in 75% of the cases. By simple research we can find out the facts and causes related to the back pain however it is highly recommended that if you are facing this issue for more than 3 weeks you should consult a doctor or a physiotherapist.

1. The exercises are always necessary to keep the body fit but due to latest culture of maintaining a body like a macho man people are more attracted towards rigorous exercises which really do not work, instead of giving an attractive body it results in back pain.

2. A high hill wearing women may look stylish for a while but it is one of the main reasons for back pain.

3. Emotional stress, it causes spasm of the muscles which result in back pain.

4. If you are a smoker/alcoholic then there is news for you which may not sound that good. Cough can cause back pain and as the smokers/alcoholic are slow when it comes to healing, back pain becomes a long term affair.

5. Obesity causes 50% more chances of back pain.

6. The people who sleep on a mattress rated 5.6 on a 10-point hard-to-soft scale they had less back pain than those who slept on a very soft or hard mattress.

7. Gastric can also cause back pain.

8. An injury or a jerk can cause back pain.

How to get relief (domestic treatments)
To get the relief from back pain it is quite important that you know the exact reason of the pain. Is it injury, obesity, old surgery or something else? Though the treatments given here can be used without any fear as all of them are domestic and nearly without any side effects but still if the pain is more than bearable and you are suffering from it since a long period of time then consulting a doctor is the best option.
1. Take lemon grass and ix it with coconut oil (should be twice the weight of lemon grass) and apply that on the external affected area.
2. Mix the betel leaves juice with coconut oil and it can be used as massage oil.
3. Take 8-9 garlic cloves and add in mustard oil, sesame oil or coconut oil. Heat the oil for some time at low flame. Cool the mixture and apply it over the affected area by massaging and keep for 3-4 hours. Take bath after.
4. Self-massage with eucalyptus oil helps in retarding the pain.
5. Consuming a pulp of single leaf of aloe on a daily basis provides relief from back pain.
6. Apply icepack on the affected area. After half an hour keep a hot pack. Repeat it if needed.
7. Acupuncture really works, so if you are suffering from the back pain for a long of time, go and try it.
8. Heat some coconut oil or mustard oil mixed with a little camphor (Karpuram) powder and apply on the affected area.
9. Yoga exercises can be very useful in driving away backache. No hard positions (asana) should be tried if you are suffering from backache.
10. If nothing is really working then magnetic therapy can be tried. It is new way of getting relaxation from muscle pains.
I must inform first that if somebody is facing sever back pain then it is better not to do any exercise.
1. Swimming: It is one of the best exercises which not only make the body attractive but also gives stamina to the lungs and limbs.
2. Walking: It may sound out of date or old man’s choice but for the people who find it hard to turn up for the exercises it’s a boon.
3. Cycling: It is definitely one of the trendy exercises which attract people who are in their twenties and teenagers.
These are the three exercises which really keep the back pain away and if someone is already facing the issue which is mild then these exercises can help. It is notable that no pain relief medicines have been mentioned as all of them have their side effects and it is not a very good idea to invite new problems to get rid of one. It is strongly recommended that if the back problem is sever and long term then a doctor must be consulted because it can be slip of cups or dislocation of bones.