Author: Adisha
•Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Wishing all the people out there to whom I connect through my blogs a Very Happy Diwali and a Prosperous New Year !

Well, the day we look forward to most of the year is here. And surprise surprise ! It came with snow today. Came early this year and added a touch of magic to the festivities ...

It's amazing na ?! Whenever a festival or celebration comes across there seems to be a surge of magical mist in the air ! I for one, feel like the hearts of everyone around me is resounding with positive happy thoughts.Everyone I know has decorated their house, lit up candles, shared their desires with God and extended their wishes to loved ones. People in one way or another, small or big, find expressions to their joy. The few bystanders who do not care to make it a big bang, too get pulled into the melee. People of all religions join together in celebrating whatever occasion comes up. Which brings me to the thought that all differences aside, each one of us is tied to the other by the desire to be happy, celebrating in our own ways the little moments that come our way !! Extending towards others the joys that our hearts feel, wishing them happiness and joys of their own. And that is something truly miraculous ... Isn't it ?!
Author: Adisha
•Monday, October 13, 2008
Hi All ,

Have you Ever wanted to make a change ? Matter to the world? Make a change ? Want to do something different for India, instead of just standing by and Talking about what could be different? Well, here's your chance to make a difference in the life of another....

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Milind Ranade yesterday. He brought to me the story of the contractual conservancy workers in India. I can bet that You as a Indian or other national, would Never have thought about the person who collects your garbage down the street and the inhuman conditions of his existence.

It started in 1996, with him and a colleague traveling in the bus, stuck in traffic. They looked out of the window to find the source of the putrid smells assaulting their senses and were Horrified to see three men having their lunch, sitting on TOP of the garbage heap !!! The heap was in a garbage truck used to haul the day's garbage to be disposed of . Having been involved in social work for a while, after a lot of internal discussion he and his colleague decided to follow those people to their place of work and around town. And they were further shocked by the conditions in which these men worked. Not only did they do ALL the garbage collecting, loading, unloading by hand, but they had No facilities to speak of, be it water, gloves, boots or a place to sit once they finished their rounds. On further investigations they found that the group of people, who are on contract ( ie Not direct BMC employees) are paid a mere Rs 30 for every round they make that is alloted to them in a day. The usual run is of 3 rounds a day, come hail or shine. The contractors hiring them put trucks of the lowest quality in circulation, that are on the verge of being sent to the scrap yard. And the along with that, they hire 3 people per truck to run on the rounds. These workers do 3 times the work of the BMC employees, and yet are provided with None of the amenities required by LAW. On the question of Why people are hired such, is that This is a golden egg for people at different levels of the hierarchy in our govt system which is infested with corruption, for Cheap labor that can be exploited easily.

This bit of knowledge was followed by a video that the KVSS ( His Organization ) have put together since 1996. Starting with videos of men collection all the filth by hand. Places like vegetable markets, slaughter houses, hospitals, gutters were gone through with with help of Only a fork, spade and bucket. These places from various cities and parts of Mumbai like Kurla, Dagar were full of veggie leftovers, decaying animal parts, needles, medications, hospital throw aways, even human parts ( hospitals do Not prefer using Their incinerators for the purpose of cost cutting) etc. This was followed by a clip of a man confessing to being an alcoholic so that he didn't get jitters when he worked. Dogs could be seen going through the trash side by side. Another clip of a man, going into a gutter Full of drain water to enable smoother flow without any protective gear. Next came a man who was washing his hands in the drain water flowing out of the truck's pre loaded garbage followed by close ups of sores and rashes on such working mens' bodies. Needless to say these were all appalling and nauseating sights. Then came a clip of their first Morcha that was a hunger strike for their rights in 1997, for things like water - drinking & washing which was successful after 2 days. They got the water on the pretext, Not of Rights of a worker but on Humanitarian grounds. Next came a few clips of Mr. Milind Ranade trying to make people aware of their rights. People of different languages they got together by coaxing, convincing and making aware slowly and surely. Next came a video the morcha they had recently on the August 14th, having organized more than 3000 people for the right to working boots and gloves. The ultimatum being, if they weren't provided with the right work gear, they would gift the Additional Municipal Commisioner with shoes the workers collected from their work place, ie Garbage Dump. The shouts of "Joote do ya Joote lo" resounded in the air, as men were cordoned away from the BMC office by police trucks and later arrested. This resulted in their getting the work shoes sanctioned with the bonus of a Leave on August 15th.

This was just the video. Mr. Milind also shared with us the story of the Chaddi Baniyan Morcha in 98. Also, the story of how a man died in an accident while he was on the job. Having no proof of his employment no office was willing to take ownership of the consequent expenses and payments. And that wasn't the first time. TB and other diseases are rampant as well. That's right ! They have no attendance cards, salary slip, social security, insurance slip, agreement contracts, nothing besides the injustice of being paid a meagre amount for their efforts. Women work the whole of night shift. They are like ghosts in our system. A life of hardships, illiteracy, horrid working conditions, and nothing to show but misery for it . For any contractor, having more than 20 workers license is required, so they keep exactly 18 people in employment at any time. What was specially surprising was with all the work Mr. Milind and his colleagues and volunteers have put together, politicians, government officials, all come up with ways to get out of the the Acts passed and find a loop hole to work around them. Like Now in Mumbai, Contract workers are Not payed accordingly coz by a recent Law they are called " Volunteers ". In Pimpri Chinchwadi( Pune district), govt has started making workers ( illiterate ) sign One to One contracts stating that they themselves are Contractors, and Thus they cannot claim bonuses, equal wages or permanency for those are meant for workers, not their contractors. A committee ( Prime Minister's Council on Trade and Industry) was formed for suggesting amendments in Labor Laws in 2000 by Vajpayee, amusingly comprised of Tata, Birla, Wadia and Mittal. No representation of the labor was present. A set of laws were created which were soon loop holed into oblivion.

None the less, Mr. Milind Ranade ( General Secretary ) and his colleagues Mr. Vijay Dalvi ( Secretary ) and Mr. Deepak Bhalerao ( President ) have along with all the people they slowly but surely brought together made immense change in the 10 years that they have been working on this cause. They have organized the working group into a union and are fighting for their rights in the courts, on the roads and now are moving onto other forums to challenge a system which has systematically exploited the bottom rung of the working class. From the top leader in the political ranks to the last contractor, everyone has their cut in this engine of corruption, that's running thanks only to the the un awareness of this un educated group who were un aware that a change Could be brought about. As a result of their prolonged battle, they have successfully helped 1200 workers in Maharashtra to become permanent employees of the BMC in 2006. Salaries have now increased from Rs. 1800 to Rs. 10,000. with facilities like leaves, bonus, provident fund, pension after retirement etc along with amenities like water at work place, rainy shoes, masks and other safety gears from the contractors. They created a concept of Bewada Register in which wives of alcoholics could come and register their complaints. Consequently, the wages of the alleged alcoholic are collected by a union representative and then distributed by their organization to the family. Thanks to the union's efforts, 35 men are now recovering alcoholics. Education is promoted and awareness of their rights, hygeine and laws is propogated. What is truly admirable is that all the work they have done is with No financial assistance from Any One person or Organization. All the money they've used is of the workers and people who Had once donated money have had their money returned to them. Currently, workers have contributed a total of Rs. 50 Lakh, creating a corpus that is to be used for the benefit of OTHERS like them. KVSS ie Kachara Vahatuk Shramik Sangh formed in 1997 . is now spreading surely across other ares like Nagpur, Amaravati, Nashik, Latur, Nanded, Parbhani and Sangali in the state of Maharashtra and is now working to start a socio political movement in all such working situations in the whole of India. They are now representing even single workers from remote villages in their litigations so as to further include any states willing to participate in the ventures.

The Organization is Now looking to create a global awareness on This topic so that they can successfully rally this movement in all the states of India. They are also on the look out for volunteers who desire to make a change, willing to commit a few years of their life to this noble cause. The thought behind total commitment for a said number of years is that One needs to Really connect to these people if any difference is to be made. Total and relentless dedication, understanding their plight and empathy is what is required from anyone willing. Also, people from the working class may find it difficult to be truly dedicated as this work involves a lot of litigation and continual correspondence. The donations they will Now be collecting will be for the sustenance of those people who will be appointed in the different cities for said purpose. The difference in their approach is that they are working towards bringing a Change, not only by creating awareness but by Challenging the system from every possible angle. Of course, with total transparency and viable discussion in place.

For pictures please view attached.

What You can do to help is one the the following -

*. Contribute monetarily any amount and in any way to their Trust called Navjeevan Samiti, that's registered under Public Charitable Trust Act. For contributions you can contact the given addresses / emails.

*. If you are or know of anyone willing to become a member of this Change, come forward to dedicate yourself to this cause.

*. They are also looking for volunteers in Any field to help create More awareness, through any form of media / organization. Any fresh ideas or help in any form is most welcome.

*. If Nothing else, Forward this mail to as many people as you can, letting more people know of this problem in India, in the hope that people out there will empathize with this working class who are an integral part of our Society !!

* Please do Not treat this as a junk mail or play pranks or jokes using this information. This is a serious issue that deserves Serious Thought & Action.

Many thanks to Mr. Milind Ranade for making Me and others like me aware of another Naked Truth of Our Corrupt Bureaucracy & Subsequent Injustice of the Unorganized Weaker Section.

Best Wishes to Him and ALL those who are working towards a Better Future for The above.
Author: Adisha
•Saturday, October 11, 2008
I love Everybody Loves Raymond. Saw an episode " Robert & Amy's Wedding " where everything in Robert's ( ie. Raymond's elder brother) wedding is going wrong and all the people involved are miserable. Eventually, the most beautiful day of the wedded couple's lives turns into a comedy of errors. At which point, Raymond has to give his best man's speech. In the speech he talks about the " importance of editing in our lives.". How it's sometimes essential just to edit out all the wrong things and look at what's right. He goes onto making fun of each family member's quirks and the goodness they all have in them, celebrating Their special moments together. An episode worth watching out for.

Loved the sense it made. To cut out the bad memories in our life, being thankful for all that we are blessed with that makes us smile. It's almost magical, how we can just edit out all our pain and misery just by repeatedly thinking about all that was good. Our brains are amazing in their capacity of shelving away episodes of our life that we just don't think about. Sure! Not all nightmares can be ignored, but it's just commonsense that mulling over what could have been done differently or what went wrong is Never going to help for the past can never be brought back. It's not about acting like bad things haven't happened. It's about cherishing all the good that Has happened. After all, if not for the bad, how would we know when life was better ?! That's where forgetting and forgiving comes from I guess, to give us the ability to move on. Isn't it a wonderful option - to edit out all the bad moments from our past, choosing to live life a little more happily ?!
Author: Adisha
•Thursday, October 09, 2008
Touching on three different topics today. Will try to keep it short -

Freedom Writers -
I saw the movie : Freedom Writers yesterday. One of those movies that get you to actually Think. You actually feel for those innumerable kids out there who just don't know right from wrong anymore. If only all teachers today felt that passionately about teaching their students about life. IF only people realized their self worth, keeping in mind that any other person too is special in their own way.It's so sad that children in today's world consider each day a war and getting through each one is a turmoil in itself. There are people out there who have no idea there's a better world out there. If only someone reached out and showed them what else they could achieve, just maybe they too might see things differently. A quote comes to mind " Treat someone as they are, and they'll remain that way. Treat them as they could be, and they'll become what they should be. "Once again my personal thoughts about education were re affirmed. We desperately need a change, in more ways than one.

The Darwin Awards -
Now here's a book whose cover reads - " commemorating those individuals who ensure the long term survival of our species by removing themselves from the gene pool in a sublimely idiotic fashion. ". I must confess I did Not read the cover. I browsed through the book, read one or two accounts and thought, " Ok ! Here's a book on stupidities of people. Should be hilarious. " and picked it up from the library. What it is, is a number of different morbid accounts of how people's idiotic actions have led to their death. Now my question is, what kind of world is it, when people mock the death of others ? Whatever the fashion, whatever the reason, I'm sure no one wants to be remembered for what they did wrong. Sure, some accounts, about thefts, thoughtlessness, and pure insaneness are humorous, but I cannot for the life of me crack a smile when someone's stupidity led to their Death. Cmon people ! We are better than that... And the kicker is, this book is the first in a Series ... Imagine that. Check out the site.

Happy Dussehra !!

In dark hours, I vent, rant, whine, even wallow in self pity occasionally, but have discovered that never have I let go of my faith in hope for a better tomorrow. They say, people who don't go through storms can never become able sailors. I've been through enough storms now to know that I am stronger, a little wiser, and most importantly that if you truly believe in what you stand for, all else falls into place. And I wish the same of all those out there who oscillate between decisions. In the end of it all, no matter what the situation, we should desire the satisfaction of doing the right thing, a concept that is becoming blurry by the minute today.On a day which symbolizes the good conquering all evil, I imagine a future, where one day we'll be able to remove all the grays from the world and color them with honesty, purity, prosperity and happiness. I send out a prayer for everyone hoping that the brightness of Today leads you to the path that's true, helping lighten all the suffering n fears you may have. Happy Dussehra to One and ALL !
Author: Adisha
•Tuesday, October 07, 2008
The other day in the mall. we decided to have lunch. Picking up our trays we walked over the a table already occupied by an elderly gentlemen. He got to talking to us about our food habits as Hindu Indians and till the next hour regaled us with anecdotes from his past, sharing with us life's many lessons. He talked, we listened, our apprehension growing into amusement. Being a teacher and a Jew, he had a LOT to say about all cultures, education, politics, and just how people were. What surprised me was even though from a by gone era ( he was young when Gandhi was assassinated), he had such a humorous yet modern and open minded view about everything. He was sharp and intuitive, noticing the smallest detail and he was well aware that he was monopolizing our time :). As I listened to him, I wondered if most people saw the world through eyes like his, then the world would certainly be more comfortable to be in. Once more I realized that people who live through a variety of experiences and are well read are a real boon to society for their view point is from above and Not a corner of the world. Though we immensely enjoyed our long sit down with him. it brought me thinking about people his age...

Why was it that this colorful man was in a mall, looking out for people just to listen to him ?
Was his family just busy or indifferent? Or was it that being independent he loved to go out and roam around sharing his knowledge with who ever was willing to listen? For whoever We told of this man,said, " awww, he must just want to be heard. ". It's like people assume that his family is just too plain busy to give him time. But giving them the benefit of doubt, couldn't it be that they have already heard those stories a million over or maybe He's alienated them with his thinking. Sure I loved what he had to say, for I agreed with it all. But what about those who do not agree. Or who in turn want to be heard? For I couldn't help noticing, in the one hour He spoke he asked us very few questions whose answers he ignored or turned into another story. Stories about his time in the army, opportunists, the people from different cultures he'd come across, his loving partnership with his wife, their cooking skills, his daughter, the importance of education, and the need for more teachers in the jersey county. Through it all, there was a common thread of self assessment and laughter, yet there was very little leeway for us to get a word in .. LOL.

I'm well aware that over time that people get really set in their ways. Specially once they get past 40 or so. But is it so hard to try and Listen to what your young ones have to say ? I know elders prefer teaching whatever they've learned but if you really want to connect to someone shouldn't communication be two way? Also, with certain people, it's hard to want to be with someone whose got rules for Everything. From sitting to talking. They have their own schedules and crowd to adhere to and fitting that into another life style is hard,I'm sure. Young children are like sponges, they absorb everything, but they also need to be able to express themselves. Is it so hard then to understand why children Sometimes once grown up avoid being with elders. Then they have favorites. When you see difference in treatments, you tend to mimic that as well and that's when you start having favorites too.

I admit I don't have a solid hang on this, for I'm projecting my personal experiences and each one's observations are unique. I know in the end, all anyone wants is love and respect but I guess my own point is, children though younger on the age scale also deserve to be heard. I just wish once in a while, elders actually Listened and were genuinely Interested in what was being said understanding what we have to say, preferring discussion and fun to lectures or formality. Would certainly make actual connections easier to maintain ....

In any case, if we never meet again John Lewis - Thank you for a lovely afternoon !
Author: Adisha
•Thursday, October 02, 2008
I really wish life came with an itinerary. A list of all the places we'll be at, in our lives. 10 years back I would never have imagined that I would be where I am today, physically and mentally. So much has changed, and will keep changing. And now, I wonder where I'll be next ...

How many times a day do you think that? I had a long conversation yesterday about what one would do, if they chose to leave their present way of life. And I realized that I'm not the only one worried about where I'll be few years down the line. How will I accomplish all that I want to? Will all my current plans work out or will life throw a new curve ball? In that case, will I have to start over once again? My uncle is hospitalized and it's once again shaken me. Nothing can be taken for granted. I don't want to end up being a particle in the sands of time. A million permutations and calculations run through my head 24 / 7, of what more I could do and how to better our lives. A few bright ideas aside, I'm deemed preoccupied and restless. This is not something new, but then of late, I somehow feel times running out and I need a jump start of sorts. I know I'm going somewhere, I just don't know where. But then if I don't know where I'm going, I doubt I'll reach anywhere...

Is that the case with most of us out there ?! Moving randomly, searching for an aim. What would you rather being doing RIGHT now ?
Author: Adisha
•Wednesday, October 01, 2008
It's that time of year again ! The air is turning cooler, the days are turning darker earlier and the festivals are creeping in. Eid has just gone by. Navratri and Halloween are up next bringing up Diwali and Thanksgiving and then Christmas. It's almost time for the lights to go up and the dancing will soon begin. In today's global crowd, no occasion goes by uncelebrated one way or other. The social networking sites are full of wishes from acquaintances n friends all over the world, giving even the internet a joyous feel. And in the real world, happiness and hope are in the air as the weather changes and the decorations go up. Family is missed and little traditions are revived! The world turns into a carnival of colors n decor. A second chance to all those at crossroads of life. Life doesn't give second chances often but like all else, opportunities of restarting or reconciliations have to be taken. And festivals provide the perfect excuse. All else is re inventing, so why can't we? In every way possible, with every one possible. To begin all anew in life with blessings, best wishes, prayers and of course Festivities.

So, what are you waiting for ? The time is now. Go forth n frolic ...