Swachch Bharat-2


SWACHCH BHARAT – 2

This is the age of ‘sequels’. Any novel that becomes a best seller has to have a sequel. A blockbuster film is never complete without a sequel. In the same way, my blog which was liked by my readers begged for a sequel.

In a sequel film the protagonist remains the same. The characters though played by different people remain the same. The theme would be on similar lines. In my sequel to ‘Swachch Bharat’, the situation and the protagonist (aka me) remained same, but the methodology applied was different.

It was six months since the previous heap of cut garden twigs had been disposed off(See SWACHCH BHARAT). It was time to get the plants pruned again. In a military officer’s house, even the plants need to sport a crew cut. Habits die hard. So, the practice continues even in the absence of the officer.

One morning I noticed a man working in my neighbor’s yard. I asked him to come to my house next and attend to the plants. When he came and finished his job the cut branches piled up to quite a big heap. The cutter refused to cart out the garbage. The household garbage collectors also put their hands up. But ‘once bitten, twice shy’. I did not contact BBMP or any of their inefficient Help lines. I decided to go for the jugular.

I googled the name of my local corporator and rang her up. I explained to the lady how the shifting of the garbage collection point to a farther location had left me, a single old lady helpless. She sweetly promised to get the green garbage removed the next morning.

But even as I was wondering at the ease with which the problem was solved, I got a call, little later in the evening from the corporator herself saying that her husband wanted to speak to me. Expecting the said gentleman to be a garbage contractor or tractor owner, I asked her to put him on. The husband of the lady told me,” Madam, our job is only to collect your household garbage-wet and dry. We are not responsible for your personal garden cuttings –nimma kasa. You have to hire private people to do that job for you. You can ask him to dump it at the nearest garbage point (what about the complaints of the surrounding residents?!).But since this time it has been promised to you, I shall send my men in a day or two whenever the vehicle is free.

Not trusting my good luck, I gave him a reminder call next morning. Very politely he assured me once again. Soon enough, a man came to have a look at the house and the heap and promised to clear it the next day.

Imagine the surprise, wonder and curiosity of my neighbors (who had all come out) when they saw a big tractor with a HUGE trailer stopping in front of my house first thing in the morning. There were two men to supervise and about 8 laborers, one of which kept grumbling, ’’not our job”. When the whole thing was cleared and the tractor left, I rang up my corporator to thank her. She told me, “Madam, my husband served in this position for 30 years. Now when the vacancy became reserved for a lady candidate, they made me stand for the seat and I was elected. I do not know any of the rules and promised you blindly. That’s why I asked my husband to talk to you. Next time, you can ring me up and I shall arrange for the vehicle, but you have to pay the man.”

But I also had learnt my lesson. What if I were to pay a huge amount for an outsized tractor and trailer to dispose of the  handful of waste from my mini garden?

Anyway the problem comes only after 6 months. By then we might have e-disposal or some such thing.

BTW, my neighbor took the earliest opportunity to accost me and get the whole story out of me.

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A VOYAGE WITH KEN FOLLETT


A VOYAGE WITH KEN FOLLETT

Finally I managed to complete the great Century trilogy of Ken Follett_ 1. Fall of Giants 2. Winter of the World 3. Edge of Eternity. What a delightful way to know history!

Having been a child of 6-10 years during the Second World War, my knowledge of the circumstances of the war was just truckloads of white soldiers passing by our house in Kolar throwing chocolate bars to us the children. Even our history books could not make the events interesting enough for us. Apart from the biased tit -bits we gathered from newspapers, the goings on in the rest of the world remained by and large very sketchy. Later even my English lecturer could not explain  the term ‘war to end war’. She brushed it off as a typo in one of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan’s essays.

But the author has interwoven such detailed accounts of the First World War, Russian Revolution, Second World War, The Cold War, The Berlin Gate with the lives and affairs of his characters, their ideologies and political leanings and their romantic escapades into such a delightful pot pourri that the readers absorb the history of the world without their volition.

Though we were familiar with terms like Bolshevism, Russian revolution and names like Churchill, Lenin, Trotsky etc it was a true revelation to me as to how some of them in Britain were bent upon sabotaging Bolshevism. Likewise the circumstances of the First World War and the trials and tribulations people underwent when their countries were at war are indelibly printed on my mind thanks to the gripping depiction by the author.

Actually speaking, in a printed book one cannot help paying attention to the cover of the book one is reading, if not for anything but at least to look at the illustration on the cover though the picture may not have any real connection to the story or characters in the book. Thus with these frequent looks, the title of the book, the author’s name, the sequence in the serial if the book is a trilogy etc get registered in the mind firmly. But when you are reading a bulky novel like Follett’s in a Kindle you are least bothered to go back to the cover again and again more so when each part of the trilogy is a big, interesting independent novel in itself.

Well, having given this as an excuse let me confess to you that I actually read the books in reverse. So for me as I proceeded back from the third book, it was more like going back in time in a time machine or to give a more mundane example it was more like sitting on the pillion of a two wheeler front-side back and watching the traffic recede from you as the machine zoomed forward. After reading about their whole life first, then I would go back to their younger days. Anyway, right order or not, the pleasure in reading was no less and it was with full, complete enjoyment that I read the three books.

Coming to the matter in the books itself, the stories are built around 2-3 generations of people in different continents mainly UK, Germany, Russia and US. But when the actual war scenes are picturised, you cannot help feeling that Fitzberg (he and he alone) fought for UK, Walter for Germany, Gregori for Russia and Gus for US. One hardly gets to know about other more important fronts and real war heroes.

Secondly, I could not help noticing that the author has described each nation and its culture apparently with a thorough knowledge but with a perspective not totally objective and neutral. For example, everything about Russia including their magnificent palaces  is shown to be ugly,shoddy, dirty and inefficient (Even their maiden trip to moon is mentioned with tongue in the cheek).The very conspicuous points of Germany such as their discipline, intelligence etc are not much highlighted . The opulence and affluence of US are well brought out. The English of course are perfect.

Apart from these humble observations from a small non-eclectic brain like mine, the reading of the trilogy was an extremely interesting, highly educative and immensely gratifying exercise with no unholy urge to skip through the pages or to rapid-read through them.

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