Author: ContentMatters

A media professional and a keen observer of the shifting shapes of content and those who make it.

Dear Builderji,

A big pranaam to you. I’m Krishna Apartments and I’m 6 years old. I am 6 floors in height. 18 apartments in all. No swimming pool. No squash courts. No annexe for parties and celebrations. No gym. Just a small, simple and peaceful building society with all apartments occupied and a view of the large open ground. My occupants are good, law-abiding citizens who bought my flats with their hard-earned money. They enjoyed 5 years of peaceful co-existence. But that’s all in the past.

Now, i have a new neighbour. Tall, grand, fancy with two storeys of car parking, two squash courts, an entertainment centre, a well equipped gym, a beautiful foyer with security cams and finger recognition software for members. They even have a cafeteria. Do i sound envious? Maybe a little but more than envious I’m feeling stifled, claustrophobic and unhappy. My inhabitants have all been taken by surprise by your 18 floor monstrosity because today 6 of the 18 families have no sunlight in their homes. Their windows look out at the building wall of your new Hamilton Parade, whatever that means!

I am now surviving under a big, black cloud. Everyone who made a home in me is today looking to abandon me. The family living in flat 102 made a distress sale and left in a hurry because their flat had become too dingy and damp and their daughter’s asthma resurfaced.

I’m writing to you to ask … what did you think when you spotted this plot of land and the government gave you permission to go ahead with your mammoth project? Did you even notice this small 6 storey building that you were about to eclipse with your grand design? Did you stop to consider the families that live here? What this would mean to them or to their daily existence? Who do these people turn to when their homes have just becomes dark, airless boxes? There is no insurance claim available because this cannot be termed a natural disaster or a force majeure. Who do they appeal to? Where do they go? What is their future? Why does no one give a crap?

Who will help?

sincerely,
Krishna Apartments,
crumbling in spirit and yet hoping for a miracle

Dear misguided boy,

Thank you for taking the time to share your deep and profound thoughts on how women should conduct themselves.

I admit that I’m luckier than your sisters. My parents never made me feel less than my brothers.

I teach in a co-ed college. I see lots of boys like you. Spoilt. Angry. Confused. Filled with hate and resentment. But then, I also see some boys who respect, love and encourage the women in their lives.

Women will no longer be packed into your little boxes and hidden away so you can feel superior. Change is here. Some have embraced it. Some are fighting it tooth and nail.

You go ahead and write condescending letters, ok?

thanking you for your concern. And in sympathy for your sisters.

teacher didi and not ‘Oye ladki’

Oye ladki, psssssssst!

Wearing jeans and sleeveless and walking alone. So shameless. Your parents never taught you anything or what? Talking freely with boys. Driving your scootie. Spending money. You think you are better than us kya?

My sisters toh cannot eat also before me. I get the first chai. I get breakfast pehle, pitaji ke saath… phir kuch bachta hai toh they get. I feel little bad but I’m the son. They don’t go to school. I go to school. My sister wants to study. Ha Ha. Stupid. Study karke what she will do? She has to marry only. Now she must help my mother in the house. Learn to cook and clean. Varna shaadi bhi nahi hogi and our family’s nose will get cut off.

Aaj kal some problem is there. Girls are speaking English and smoking. It looks so bad. This is not our culture. What about samaaj? You have no sharam or what?

You get raped and everyone blames us!

If you have a boyfriend and wear cheap clothes then you are only asking for it. Why you are crying then? Humne bola tha kya idhar udhar ghoomne ko? For years it is like this only. Men will be on top. Women will make khaana.

Some @#% girls are wanting to be independent. They are going to police chowkies and complaining against family members and rapists and stealers. No izzat only. No brains. Khaali phokat creating problem. Now everyone is thinking so much rape is happening in India. Arre Rape is always happening. You don’t go and wash your ganda kapda in hari bhari society! You just keep quiet. People will respect you more. Family will be proud of you ki ghar ki baat ghar mein rakhi. Everyone is happy. Why to give tension? Police also has kam numbers to report. India shining.

That is why I feel very proud of some big politicians and high status wale log. They are role model. Samajhdari ki baat karte hain but so many people are making tamasha. Why? Can’t listen to right things? Always too much question. Why why why … kya why why why?!

Chup.

Choti si baat … faltu mein making badi baat.

wanting best for you. Always. but try to understand. ok?

locality ke saare boy log ki taraf se

Dear Intolerance,

You’re quite a slime, you know.

What are you doing in our country? What place is there for you with your ‘My way or the highway’, ‘Divide and rule’ and ‘I know best’ attitude?

You have snuck in casually and brazenly without a by your leave.

The rate at which you go about your daily chores, Mera bharat mahaan will soon be replaced by mera bharat kahaan. Will you rejoice then?

Please don’t try our tolerance too much.

With growing intolerance for your ways,

concerned, peace loving citizens

Dear Users,

I await with dread the incoming traffic of all nature of emissions destined to take place in my space. I’m ubiquitous, almost. Airports, railway stations, bus stands, market places, multiplexes, highways, towns, cities, some villages, the list is endless. My presence is necessary and mandatory but basic respect unfortunately, eludes me. I’ve been mulling over my predicament and figured that its time I spoke out.

As a public shauchalaya or centre for excreta, I feel abused and exploited. My job is to be welcoming. A clean haven for those who desperately seek release. I would like to take pride in my role as a service provider but the management fails to do its bit.

  1. It does not provide the basic materials required to keep me spic and span.
  2. Not even cheap disinfectant. I mean, why run a public restroom if you can’t supply basic infrastructure!
  3. It doesn’t hire enough cleaners so stains grow and residual matter collects and the rot sets in.
  4. It does not take care of sustained maintenance, so if the tank leaks or the tiles come apart or the roof is not fixed, I have to live with it.

I’m tired of my own stench. You walk in and turn up your nose but I’m the one living in it!

Then we have some special characters who don’t seem to know what a WC is meant for. It is definitely not a step-up platform with a hole on the top. It’s a seat. Please do NOT climb on the WC and release your innards all over the place. It’s offensive.

Sometimes, I’m able to offer tissues and wipes and all things nice. Sometimes, I can barely offer water. In all cases, it should not stop you from doing the right thing by yourself … and that is to follow basic hygiene.

I understand you cannot do anything if there is no water … but do check once! The function of a flush is to pour a whole lot of water down the drain so the sewage gets carried along and the next person who comes to rest their ass on the WC is not confronted by a large turd or some floaters. I have, however, noted that an unflushed toilet does not deter some people …. they come right along and happily add to the collection. So now we have a pile up. Flies start buzzing and I have a whole new situation to deal with. The public stays out. Stray animals start visiting. You have by now converted me into a disease plaza. Which one would you like to rent today … I have on offer gastrointestinal afflictions, dysentry, leptospirosis, typhoid, dengue …

You see where this is going?

Not in your favour for sure! If you want a swachch bharat … please get off the seat, pull the flush and wash your hands … for starters.

Reprovingly yours,

the shauchalaya union

Dear Call Center Employee,

‘Hello from the other side
I must’ve called a thousand times’

Sarcasm doesn’t help. You just don’t get it.

Anger doesn’t help coz you just clear your throat and ask me the same question for the 50th time.

Your responses start from a recorded message, to a very long wait listening to an annoying musical interlude on loop, to a forced update of all that you offer. What I require is a quick response and instead I have to deal with a drawl asking how you may help me.

The rapid-fire questions begin at a speed that defies any manner of comprehension. You want my date-of-birth, my address, my pan card number, my phone number, my this number and my that number by which time I have emptied out my wallet desperately trying to feed you all the information you need. All this while my voice rises in decibel levels and I fear I may suffer a stroke. You ask me to be patient but its 20 mins since I dialled the number and I haven’t even got to the point where my complaint can be registered. The actual navigation of comprehension, language and articulation has challenged every last cell in my being.

22.5 mins after dialling your number … my nerves are shot. My eyes are glazed. My hands are shaking. My phone is lying shattered on the living room floor and there is an ungainly dent in the wall.

The call dropped just as you asked me to share the nature of my complaint. It DROPPED!!

Sob!

I can’t do this again.

I give up.

A victim of the .

Dear Spit heads,

This is for all those who suffer from the compulsive habit of ejecting saliva instead of swallowing it like most normal people. Specially, those who like chewing and collecting the betel nut and paan residue in their mouths for a projectile like emission directed at walls, staircases or an unsuspecting pedestrian. The world is your spittoon and the notion is revolting.

Please exercise this right you have appropriated of releasing the red colour residue in any and every direction and exercise it outside of India. I’m confident you will discover how lenient your country is compared to the others. And I trust and pray that the experience will not be enjoyable at all.

yours disgustedly,

wary pedestrian

Dear Mumbai Roads,

It is with deep empathy that I write to you. You carry the weight of the city and yet no one gives you respect. There is no one to tend to your multiple fractures and your ill health. What you really need is the ICU but we all know that several contractors will vie for an opportunity to fix you up and do a shoddy job because commerce dictates most decisions these days. You keep undergoing surgeries. Repair after repair but to no avail.

You may not believe this but even the vehicles that drive on you pray for your good health, that is, when they aren’t cursing you for ruining their suspension.

Maybe, you should start an online campaign. You can appeal to the government and demand better services. Alternatively, you could go on strike. Just collapse under the weight of the crazy traffic and refuse to get up till they fix you up right and proper!

Please do something about the ‘state’ you are in. Even Gujarat fares better than you.

Fervently yours,

A weary commuter

Dear Lady,

You must have heard of the swachch bharat campaign? Does it mean anything to you at all or is it just something you applaud and think ‘others’ should follow?

You threw the following things out of your car window when we were all forced to stop at a traffic signal.

  • Bits of paper that had been torn up and that fluttered across the road like leaves.
  • An empty packet of Lays
  • Orange peels

I’m sure that had you been at home … you would have got off your ass to chuck it all in a dustbin. You would NOT have littered your living room.

What makes it okay for you to throw your personal garbage on perfectly clean streets?

You know the best moment in all of this?

The street kid, who picked up pieces of your litter and handed them back to you.

Rolling my eyes

from the car stuck directly behind you.

Dear Cow,

I wasn’t sure how exactly to address you but you’re the one we Indians feel respectful towards even when you walk aimlessly along roads that are meant to be thoroughfares for traffic. We are understanding and forgiving and even good humoured about your blatant disregard for road safety. We indulgently accept your contemptuous stare when we honk to get you to move out of the way.

According to the dictionary, a cow also means an unkind or unpleasant woman. I admit I too use the term quite freely in that context but it wasn’t until recently that I questioned why a cow should be synonymous with an unpleasant and unkind woman. However, that’s not the point here. The point is you don’t seem too concerned about your reputation or image.

So dear cow,

An incident occurred recently. You were at the heart of the controversy.

You must have heard of a gentleman who was mobbed and killed by his long time neighbours because they took great exception to the notion that one of your ilk may have been killed and eaten by the family. So strong was this exception that they forgot they were a close knit community. They beat up an 80yr old grandmother. They beat up his son. Put him in hospital in critical condition. And KILLED a man. Ruthlessly. In cold blood. An eye for an eye or a human life for a rumoured death of a cow?

Maybe, dogs, monkeys, goats, fish, poultry will want their supporters to do the same? Maybe, the human race need not fear a nuclear warhead as much as an animal uprising? Maybe, all animals out there are building armies of humans who will fight and kill each other so that the animals can finally rule the world?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

With deep respect,

a curious onlooker