The Festival of Lights (and fireworks) has always been a great divider between citizens from different economic backgrounds. While the rich choose this occasion to flaunt their wealth in the form of decorations, clothes and the amount of fireworks lit, the economically weaker lot rely on candles and cheaper fireworks that, nevertheless, make a loud noise, emit a lot of sparkle and smoke. This year, with the government imposing a ban on sale of firecrackers, this divide became even more visible.
The well-to-do found several means, including online sale, to procure fireworks. But the poor could only watch the sky being lit up. A colleague’s maid said her young son wanted to go to their village, where there was no ban on buying firecrackers. He was so missing not lighting them that he swore he would never stay in Delhi for Diwali from next year!
Beware the conmen
Conmen have turned veritable artistes, a former colleague found much to her chagrin. She will certainly not forget an autorickshaw ride she undertook recently. Nonetheless, she returned wiser. It so happened the colleague hired an autorickshaw to visit a friend in Okhla. On the way, the auto driver’s mobile phone rang and he stopped the vehicle to attend to the call. He then returned weeping and wiping his tears. Concerned, our friend asked him what had happened. He replied that his parents had met with an accident in Punjab and that his mother had died on the spot.
He then made a few frantic calls to friends asking for money for his mother’s funeral and to attend to his seriously injured father. Moved by the driver’s plight, our former colleague gave him an additional Rs 500 along with the fare when she alighted. In fact, she regretted not having more cash in her bag.
She then narrated the incident to her friend, who was shocked with disbelief. It transpired the friend had encountered a similar experience the previous day on the same route. She did not have much money on her person so she asked the auto driver to wait outside while she went home, fetched Rs 1000 and gave it to him. It was only then that the two friends realised that they had been emotionally blackmailed. And so, the moral of the story is: Look, think and then leap; don’t let emotions or rather “kalyug” get the better of you.
In an interesting turn of events, Diwali eve turned out to be a laugh riot in a colleague’s house. Cleaning the house and getting rid of redundant things are traditionally carried out before the Festival of Lights. Houses are also freshly-painted and renovated. Doing so is believed to appease Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance. A day before the festival, our colleague’s mother was totally immersed in the cleaning process and while doing so, she suddenly noticed a cockroach.
She quickly grabbed the broom and started chasing it from one room to another. What was more interesting was that it wasn’t just an ordinary cockroach but a flying one! And, within a few minutes, the tables were turned and our colleague saw the “evil” cockroach chasing his mother. It was nothing less than a scene from the ever-popular Tom and Jerry show. The whole family burst out laughing as they chased it down and finally managed to get rid of it.
Senior journalists recall how they always carried a pen and paper as they could find news anywhere and anytime. Then came the dictaphone, which was soon replaced by mobile phone as it has an inbuilt recorder. But the problem with these electronics devices is transcribing. The problem magnifies in a group interaction as the device records several questions and as many answers, most of them repetitive.
However, a colleague came across a smart journalist, who devised a new trick to do away with this problem. At a press interaction in Mumbai, the senior scribe placed his mobile phone in front of an interviewee and went outside without asking any questions. The other journalists in the group thought he had stepped out to contact his office.
After some time, when interaction was about to get over, he turned up and picked up his mobile phone. When curious journalists asked him why he left during the interaction, he answered that there was no point sitting in the group because everybody asked the same questions. Therefore, he merely listened to the recording patiently to write an appropriate story for his paper.
The Taj Mahal’s new nomenclature ~ a beautiful graveyard ~ will still not detract from the beauty of the monument or what it stands for.
(Contributed by: R V Smith, Rita Joseph, Nivedita R,RakeshKumar and Asha Ramachandran)