Monday, May 5, 2014

Let's Forget The Change and Change

Let me be clear on this...once again my blog has layers...
It's about a) CIVIC SENSE
              d) FORGIVING AND MOVING ON and finally
              e) SEEKING the REAL meaning of JUDGMENTAL

Consider this...somewhere there is a barren strip of land a pathway to someplace where nothing grows. Then someone who commutes daily decides to make some changes. It makes him look forward to seeing this sorry strip transformed. So quietly without making any noise about it he sets on his job. Each day devoting some of his precious time to this barren strip. He digs, hoes, tills , the soil, takes out the rocks one by one, sifts the soil turns it over, airs it, enriches it with added nutrients and finally makes it fertile and sows whatever he could manage. Everyday while going to work making sure about the watering and weeding he had to carry one extra baggage too. A large jelly can of water. His hard labor paid off. Soon there sprouted tiny plants, which grew, blossomed and spread beauty, cheer and fragrance to all that passed through the erstwhile odd strip of land. The person who did it was more than happy to see the fruits of his labor and so was the community. They felt cheerful to walk across through this pathway and now this desolate area had sounds of laughter and animated chatting instead of the forlorn feel that it had to it earlier. Some lingered to admire, others wondered about the who did it but it pleased everybody and anybody who ventured and found himself there.
Then one fine day comes one Mr Hoity Toity who was coming and going earlier too when the man was at his work but had not bothered then but today he stops and arrogantly taps at the shoulder of that man who is tending the plants and says, " What man! why are you doing this ! Is this your land ? "

How do you answer this...
Especially if Mr Hoity Toity sees the world as full of ' Malice' or ' Vicious' or ' Grabber' .
For all i know most resources and time both so scarce these days are actually grabbed by the Hoity Toities. Correct me if i am wrong in my analysis.    

We are a sum of our experiences i think i have said that perhaps too many times in my posts that it can be my tag line. Not surprising then i am here today once again to share one...not bitter...but yes one that does leave me baffled each time and every time it crosses my mind. The fact being that it has to cross because it is there ...right there...because i stay where it is. Here...

What is this general attitude about people about common common areas i mean the staircase...the common road...the street lights...the garbage bin. "That it is not my job".
My job is limited to my home period. We pay taxes and so that job belongs to the Govt, Municipality, Inspector of Works, Chief Health Inspector, the Housing Society...whatever name you give it.
i will refrain from the whole story because we all are aware of that, funny thing is how with all the education, " It's not my job" has stuck like a parasite deep inside our psyche and we the people just don't bother even to keep their own staircases what to talk of surroundings clean. We have all the time in the world for whatapping continuously at a stretch, gossiping, facebooking... but this we don't have the time. i know if and when some of my friends read this...they will be angry but you should hear all that gas...about waste management...about ecological balance and bla bla bla. In reality no one has it in their PRIORITY LIST to do what should be done on a daily basis. Just like how we brush our teeth and take our bath something like that.

That brings me to my story...well my staircase also is a shared one. Being a Government accommodation and i must say a pretty old one at that the state of the job done on the staircase wall with the plaster and the wires is quite appalling but what makes the whole thing worse is also the structure...dark and dingy with a say 1x1 sq ft latticed alcove in the wall which permits insufficient amount of light that too only early morning when the sun rises because the alcove faces the east. And as if this was not enough until i had come to occupy this place there was more...cobwebs...dust on the walls and in that latticed window into which some discarded knick knacks of my next door neighbor were kept. The entire wall all over the latticed window riddled with holes and nails...bare...plain and utterly ugly. That's the word UGLY.

It took me a nice six months to first settle down in this new place and all i could diligently do was to sweep and mop the staircase and the landing. Was not getting enough time to think about any make over for this dark dingy pathway of mine which was sorrowful for a person like me who loves light and the color green. Finally after my neighbor happily had a few dinners at my place and i sought her permission i decided to do what i could do...and sure i was successful.
Viola ! the dark dingy pathway not only looked nice and bright but also smelt nice...instead of a bat plus urine odor that always lingered there earlier.

One day my neighbour graciously informed me how impressed her guests were when they visited her and saw the changes. i was happy she was happy and so it went on.
Not once did it occur to me that when both of us are using the staircase why i should take all that cleaning and making it look aesthetically appealing. No no i am not such a Samaritan i must admit. It's just that i like to keep my surroundings clean. Besides i was at home and she was working so i happily excused her from the deepest core of my heart. In fact i rather took an added responsibility all by myself although she never asked me, to shine and polish and repair all the knick knacks she had displayed in the alcove plus water and keep it clean her one and only Pothos (Money plant) which most of the time drooped ready to collapse out of sheer negligence. i loved seeing that green upright as soon as i opened my door as it was the first thing that your eyes would fall upon.

The most difficult job was to make some creative stuff to conceal those holes and nails. Even now some remain in such odd places that removing them would create another hole and nothing could be hung as there is just barely any space. i wonder whoever had stayed before us, what purpose those eyesore nails served them and why weren't they pulled out, the holes filled up when whitewashing was done. Sigh! those freebie Govt jobs...well that would take another blog. Coming back to my story then...

So just a few days back a grenade was hurled upon me. That same neighbor...who has never dusted...never taken the cobwebs off...what to talk of mopping or decorating the landing...that same neighbor accused me of " GRABBING" the whole place. It almost sounded like she had abused me.
Wait a minute... how...did i overlook...oh my God should have i exercised some many thoughts created chaos. Crestfallen, shattered and feeling very crabby i returned to my quarters.
Whatever happened to " When the intentions are good the soul has no regrets."
The entire day her words rang inside me...i went back... to the day i had landed in this place...had to go back to know if i had missed out on anything.

i got it all right.
Never yes never once did she express any desire to make some changes. She would come over from office, ring my bell, ask for tea, tell her sob stories of the day, curse the entire human race, glorify herself, her husband , her daughters and i would patiently listen. She had the TIME for all that jazz. So full of herself she would not even thank me for her Copper Sun plaque which hung there nice and shiny.
Not once in all those jazz moments did she express about her intense urge to participate in doing the staircase and i am now baffled, bewildered, bemused,...loss of this word 'Grabbing'.
Rather what she did when she did had amused me at times and also irritated me at other times.

She started putting newer things on her side of the wall. Every Saturday which was her day off i would hear Thuck ! Thuck! of more nails being driven into her side of the wall. She hung up an artificial foliage that looked like a lamp just above that Pothos that she never cared to wash/wipe or even water. But i must admit when lit the entire looked very attractive and pretty. Oh yes she hung a Nazar Suraksha Kavach can i miss that. Now along with that Pothos that Nazar Suraksha Kavach also greeted me every morning when i opened the door.

Yeah have to confess though did cry my heart the toilet (not for the word but for how ungrateful can one be) lest my husband should know. Was so not least bit in the mood for the barrage of moral lectures that would flood me. So to clear the heavy air that had settled inside me went to the terrace in the evening where my babies were. They gave me solace. My babies, my plants. As if in inertia i started peering into all of those pots. Found all my pots had trespassers. Those who were singing in season as well as those whose season had come and gone. Coincidence...nah i don't think so.

My babies happily conveyed what i needed to know. It is the intrinsic nature of plants to grow that grab wherever they get resources for life and grow but humans grow as a sum of their experiences. Whatever her experiences were i am sure as a child or as she grew up and till now have not been a very positive one. Perhaps she was taught that resources are limited and you have to grab all you can. All she could see in my efforts was ' GRAB'. The clean fragrant cheery brightly lit staircase seemed oblivious to her. Surely it would've made her feel very welcome each day every day. But...
And it is quite possible she did not visualize the staircase as a resource in the first place. Probably that could've also triggered her outburst to the earlier baggage of negativity that she already had. Who knows. All i have known of my experience with her is that she is a recognition freak. If you could only hear her speak. It's all about HER.
So perhaps after seeing my work and all the accolades that i was getting she was getting restless. But how hard it is to just ask. She could ask for tea,  to prepare her daughter's dinner, ask for help to be carried upstairs one in the night when we were in slumber, for she had twisted her ankle at a wedding party, ask my domestic help to run errands for her without my permission, then how difficult was it for her to say, " Shivani i want to do something here..."

The biggest problem in our society is this...people are seeking change and yet the basic change that has to come from within is not happening. First of all no one will OWN responsibility for the common area...and when someone does something good and substantial this is what happens. Now i am taking my experience and demonstrating a micro case.
Apply it to the nation. MACRO...then imagine the implications.
Then why do we keep harping about LET'S MAKE THE CHANGE...

As for me i shall continue to be...shall continue to clean and mop and do as i was before..

i look at my babies...and the trespassers...they all seem lovely to me. Silently the prayer escapes...into the blue blue sky...
"....Forgive those who trespass against us... "

But i still am baffled i want to know if i am being Judgemental...

Can't help remembering Robert here it should be...right here on this page.


Something there is that doesn't love a wall, 
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, 
And spills the upper boulders in the sun, 
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast. 
The work of hunters is another thing: 
I have come after them and made repair 
Where they have left not one stone on a stone, 
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding, 
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean, 
No one has seen them made or heard them made, 
But at spring mending-time we find them there. 
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill; 
And on a day we meet to walk the line 
And set the wall between us once again. 
We keep the wall between us as we go. 
To each the boulders that have fallen to each. 
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls 
We have to use a spell to make them balance: 
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!' 
We wear our fingers rough with handling them. 
Oh, just another kind of out-door game, 
One on a side. It comes to little more: 
There where it is we do not need the wall: 
He is all pine and I am apple orchard. 
My apple trees will never get across 
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him. 
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'. 
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder 
If I could put a notion in his head: 
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it 
Where there are cows? 
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."
Robert Frost


  1. Not many are like you. Not everyone would go and decorate the common areas. We live in a shell and we only protect and preserve it.

    Lovely plants you have there. And thanks for sharing a lovely poem.

  2. @ Saru the poet herself...I feel rewarded with not only ur kind words but also for having that patience to go through it all. Thank you so much. Hope to see more of you. :) loved the fact that u appreciate my babies as well. :) :)

  3. I hear you and I can agree with you . Where I live there are common areas too with invisible lines like boundaries. I think it's ok to ask and talk to your neighbor about it - to use the space if they don't, so that it's more welcoming and cozy and not so cold and concrete.

    Not all people think that way, some just want what's 'technically' their property left untouched .. even if they choose to leave it alone, empty and unwelcoming. It's the exterior of their home but they don't think of it that way. I suppose the other extreme( which I'm grateful does not happen on my floor) are those who use it as alternate disposal or storage area.

    So what if you live in an apartment, can you not be proud of your living environment and take care of it without expecting the public cleaners or officers to come around to enforce it.

    Plants never hurt anyone, yet there are people who even grumble about the dead leaves that happen to fall unto their corridor area just because they think they can.

    It's all about attitude and it can be frustrating.

  4. @ B M first and foremost it feels so nice to hear from you after such a long long time. Yeah i know there are certain very difficult neighbors too who grumble about the dead leaves falling...that's what i meant in my layers...the perception of people...that's what intrigues the nature vs nurture theory what is it that makes these perceptions...why can't people be more compassionate towards each other. In my case i am flabbergasted simply because i did take her permission...she gave me a big go in which too i remember she had rather mocked me of my homemaker status...but of course i did not mind that. i know how hard it is wor a woman to manage everything...home plus job. The way she behaved brings me to some words i had scribbled once in my diary.
    Makes me think of what George Michael the singer and as a teenager i used to listen to many of his songs has said once, " Our perception in whatever molds it where resources and time are running out we are taught that you have to grab what you can. It's like there isn't any compassion left."
    i have been thinking about this still B M and somehow i feel she didn't like what she heard...those accolades...maybe somehow she wanted a slice of that pie...and maybe in this competitive world she's been fighting it out right through. So that word ' Grab' is all she could think. There is no feelings for anything else. Returning tired from the office finding everything spic and span as she climbed the steps- to the the that shining sun plaque...that made no sense to her. That's my analysis and what i wanted to know basically was am i being judgemental in that or has my experience taught me something...people are what they are because of their experiences. Nature or Nurture...the discussion can go on...and i hope it does...
    i wish others should also visit this silly post of mine and help me out...
    Thank you so much B M...grateful indeed...pls do visit again...on my NEXT post which would not be heavy i assure u but might delight you...probably r ur plants doing...would like to know about that too.
    Stay happy Stay Blessed,

    1. I think most of the time when a person tries to put you down, it is really not about you. It is the only way they know how to make themselves feel better about themselves, by convincing themself that you are something less. Her truth, your truth .. as I said on my blog there can't be variations - just one truth, and different perceptions of it. I think you see very clearly so don't worry about it! And leave her to figure out the truth herself. You can't do it for her.

    2. @ aEiOu hello dear sensitve soul...i have been sore since morning and let me tell you this your words just rained liked a shower and healed my sores. Not this issue but something else. Maybe it will somehow meander into my blog...some day and you shall know. Thank you so much. Funny isn't it although i asked you to come to mine because i wanted to get some solace which i blog could after making you sad initially provided you with some light.
      And in ur light along with my own light i do see things very clearly now. That hope lingers though that one day she can see it clearly too. Grateful indeed for ur kind words coming out straight from ur heart and reaching mine. And yes catch my next post too. Perhaps that should make you happy. Till then take care till i catch you on urs.

  5. Awesome post again Shivani. Loved it thoroughly.
    So many meanings this little line holds "....Forgive those who trespass against us... "....may be this is the one I am needing now in my life!

    Loved your plants. They are full of that green energy, esp. the last one. This reminds me of some leaves we used to eat as kids, they were sour and we used to say them "imli leaves" . This post of yours brings so many memories back, just as new and fill life with smiles and happiness. Thanks dear.

  6. Thanks for visiting Shivani, and for your kind words. Your post made me sad .. well, sadder (I was already sad before I clicked on the link to your blog), yet another reminder of how we learn the hard way that people will never be what we want them to be .. but I admire your perseverance and your "Gandhigiri" attitude to mopping and cleaning and so there's another reminder, a happier one, that I too can be like that and not let my wounds define me. Thanks.

  7. @ Shaifali beautiful poet so glad to see u here. Gladder still to know u stumbled upon the essence. The imli leaves you talked about is called Sorrel...wood sorrel and yes we did it too as kids. i have a beautiful picture...and maybe i have done a blog on that. when i will come upon the pic or the blog will pass u the pic or the link. Then you must let me know if that was the leaf you talked about. It tasted sour. Thank you so much for bringing back those moments and also for stopping by. Hope to see more of you soon. :)

  8. @aEiOu yeah sad the way things are. But loved the fact that you found something good to not let your wounds define you. Another thing like i have mentioned already. i am not anything near to Gandhi. Maybe you can understand it this way. Have u ever shared a room with a messy stinking mate. In order that u don't land up with a row/ headache and just to maintain peace u quietly take it upon yourself to clean up the stinking like shit socks/ towels...or anything that makes that tiny apartment not worth staying even for 10 minutes. This after you have already struck a deal about the rules aspect and the mate just wouldn't bother. You have no other option...not at that time...either you quit the apartment look for residence elsewhere or do this way. Keep it clean, keep it hygienic, keep it livable. Yeah some efforts on ur part, some sacrifice. Who are you doing it for...yourself. So dear friend where is Gandhigiri in all this. i think i have mentioned i am a clean person and like to keep my surroundings inside to outside clean. No community service done with the purpose of community just happened as in the case of the story i just mentioned in the beginning of the blog.