Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Domino's girl (on capitalism)

                                                                    photo : Vijeta Dahiya
I would make a mention of two people. The first one is a farmer in Mubarakpur village whom I met on my photographic expedition. I was enjoying a quiet smoke sitting on the field boundary when he came to me to ask if I had come for a survey or enquiry, he was unsure, on behalf of the governement. I replied no. He picked the thread of conversation, and wove his plight around it. The government robbed him, read acquired, of his lands. He would cultivate the fields to support his family. There is nothing else that he knows to make a living. Now, in the course of a few months, the government would erect flats on those lands. For the good of the people? Or for the good of the people who have money to buy them. Not one person from the village is going to be able to purchase that flat. The property dealer cum builder facilitated easy price and living for the rich, and peanuts in the name of compensation and destitution for the farmers.

As I entered, the Domino's girl wished me noon. She politely asks me what I would like to have. I place the order. She gives a call to someone like her, in the kitchen to forward my order. With robotic efficiency, her hands punch some keyboard keys, take the cash, and give me back the change alongwith the printed bill. While I wait for my order, she repeats the chorus for another customer, and then for another. Dustbins have been removed so as to make more sitting space. So when this pair of love pigeons leaves after finishing their meals, the Domino's girl is quick to cleanse the table. She follows this routine for the whole day, for all the days in a week, for all the weeks in a month. And at the end of the month, the heavy amount of cash that she's collected is locked in a box and sent to a rich big boss sitting somewhere faraway in a luxurious office. The girl and her co-workers serve, I pay, but the money goes to the boss. Because the bosses 'have' the pizza factory, the workers 'have not' anything but 6000 bucks at the end of the month for all their toiling.

If the Domino's girl tries to drop the Domino's title by trying to open a restaurant of her own, the hefty government procedures, the heavy fees required for the licenses and the still heavier bribes would always constrain her to remain a have not. That's what happened to the 'paranthe wala' in Sec 22, where I would sometimes go for breakfast. The poor man would work sincerely to the satisfaction of his customers providing them with economic, healthy and tasty food. One of these fine days, the police came and brought it down, while all other unlicensed ventures on that road keep running. He told me that he was ready to pay them to allow his to keep it going, but probably not that much as the restaurant owner opposite the road paid them to bring it down. And so it happened.

People enjoy alcohol in hotels on Valmiki Jayanti, while the poor man's pub is closed. Advertising alcohol is banned, but whenever Fosters, Haywards or 100 pipers wants to advertise, they come up with a water bottle, soda or a music record, and advertise openly without ever caring to explain what the ad is about. Shahrukh Khan has erected a hotel in Chandigarh, Rahul Boss owns a house in Kasauli, Vijay Mallya takes a royal challenge to advertise his alcohol on cricketers' jerseys, the Ambanis flout the regulations, whereas you (yes you Mr. working class hero, not them) are not permitted to do so. Leave all this. These are big things. You merely try to photograph on the roads purely for non-profit (hobby) purpose - they won't allow you even that, while they won't mind posing for a picture for the rich foreigners. You ask them permission to perform a street play on the road for creating social awareness, and they would explain hundreds of problems involved in that.

                                                                     photo : Vijeta Dahiya
The moneyman owns everything. The rules fail and fall apart in his face. Since money begets money, he would keep growing richer, while the low would remain low. The low is like the illegitimate son of the state, who needs to be formally cared for, for being a son, but never to be loved or showed concern about because of being illegitmate.

Where does the huge chunk of money required for the election campaigns and party funds come from? Having answered this question, it seems only natural that the state would keep fostering them, acting as an agency to keep intact the hiatus between them and those who work for them. Despite all logic, this scheme of things irritates me, all the more because of that dirty facade of socialism.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Slimy (poem)

                                                                  photo (c) Vijeta Dahiya


I was held in lichens
    Covered with moss
Frozen to the core
    So slimy and gross

Slippery to touch
    Immunized unreceptive
My skin held down
    The nerves as captive

One day an insect
    Happened to bite
I shrieked in pain
    But half in delight

Pain, on my dead veins
    It sensuously gnawed
Tickled by the poison
    Their numbness thawed.

Raging through pores
    The sublimated zeal
Even if it were pain
    Ah! having to feel.

Wallowing in this feel
    I can think of nothing
Dreamily I recuperate
    From the intense sting.