My prose writings

Category Archives: suresh jani

Walk Across the United States





  • Edward Mjelde

  • North County San Diego, California
  • Age – 26 years
  • 2-Years
  •  5,000-Mile
  • From –  Cape Henlopen, Delaware
  • To – Home , San Diego, California


Read the story of determination, endurance and perseverance …


Click this pic





      I intend to get up early in the morning at 6 o’clock. Alarm rings, I switch it off. “Tomorrow I will surely get up in time.’ That tomorrow never comes.

      My BP is high. Doctor has told me to stop fatty and sweet food. The dinner dish is served, full of such tantalizing food. I can’t resist the temptation. ‘Tomorrow I will resist’. That tomorrow never comes.

     I became angry with a friend. In fact fault was mine. ‘Tomorrow I will beg him to forgive.’ That tomorrow never comes.

    A contractor came to office today, and gave me a large sum as bribe. ‘Accepting bribe is immoral. I will not do so henceforth.’ That day never comes.

    I go to Sunday for religious discourse. Gita sermon is very good. It penetrates my heart and mind. But I forget it when I come home.

    A ‘Duryodhan’ resides hidden within me. I know him well. But I cannot assassinate him. But I intend to become Arjuna of Gita tomorrow. That tomorrow never comes.

Original in Gujarati

For the benefit of Non – Hindu readers…

Duryodhan and Arjuna  are the villain and hero of Hindu epic ‘Mahabharat’

Three events on an American Highway

My car is racing at speed of 60 miles per hour, through interstate highway no.I-20, piercing the twin cities of Dallas and Fortworth, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans: one of the arteries of American economic system. This is rush hour and the four lanes including mine are full of myriad of cars, vans and trucks. There is hardly any gap between two vehicles and the flow of vehicles is  incessant.  Similar is the case with four lanes of traffic in the opposite direction.

I feel that I am one of the millions of red particles  flowing through many such arteries that invigorate  nation’s commerce and industry. The oxygen of money and energy of my being keep the red particle that I am alive and robust. Many red particles like me rushing in road vehicles, trains, and monstrous jet planes/ ocean liners keep the economic system of the nation healthy. All the countries of the world are engaged in a maddening rush to achieve economic status  similar to this wealthiest and most powerful country.

The entire human race is engaged in an unstoppable race and the speed of that race is increasing every moment like a supersonic jet engine. No end to this rat race is visible in near future too. All are rushing with a lunatic gusto, towards an unfathomable abyss of total destruction at tremendous speed. None has time, intention or leisure to apply brakes.

As I am engrossed in these depressing thoughts, suddenly a spark of truth and reality dawns  in my poignant  mind that I have missed my right exit and am heading towards west instead of east!


I am profusely sweating, lying like a corpse in my bed. An appalling dream has just awakened me out of my slumber. It pertained to the same highway I-20, after just forty years. The road was desolate even at the good old rush hour of 8-00 AM. Not a single vehicle was passing through it. Wild vegetation growth was rampant in each nook and corner of its stretch. It was lying like the rotting carcass of a panther of  the bygone economic and social system. Trillions of ants of misfortune had eaten away the once powerful being of at monster.

All highways, railroads, ocean routes, and airways were devoid of any means of transportation. The last drop of petroleum and last piece of coal had vanished from the world since last five years. All the water reservoirs were also empty, subsequent to all round bombardment in third world war, fought on a gruesome scale, for command over water and energy sources. Ninety percent of the world population had been annihilated. The unprecedented heat generated out of the nuclear weapons had melted the polar ice caps, resulting in rise of ocean level, that had engulfed all coastal ports. All the invincible powers of the globe had nosedived into irreversible devastation. Aye! the economic and social systems had  virtually disappeared into oblivion.

Only a few unfortunate human insects like me were roaming and moaning, here and there in the forests for water and food. The sky scrapers of the bygone metropolitan cities were lamenting of their past glory in the rampant vegetation kingdom. The human life was crawling at snail’s pace, sniveling, aching towards rejuvenated, cave age antiquity. I was standing there alone – depressed, lifeless, impotent, hungry and thirsty – on the same I-20 – now a part of the expanse of a thick forest. I was perspiring even in the prime winter and trembling with fear on the possibility that a wild animal may gobble me up any moment.

I woke up from that wicked dream; wailing over the fact that the exit in wrong direction had brought human race, as well as myself to this downhill destiny.


I return from the bathroom, reinstating myself from the poignant mental jolt. I realize that all the above was just a bad dream. I sleep immediately and start snoring to wake up in a fresh and fragrant dawn.

I am now driving a car again in the morning rush hour. But my car is a small, environment friendly, battery operated one. But the previous rush is conspicuously absent.

Now there are very few and small offices in the town. Most of the people are working over the internet from their  homes. All the merchandise is purchased from virtual reality e-Shops and delivered on the doorsteps, house to house, through giant trucks. People visit stores only for luxury items. They travel on road only to meet friends/ relatives or for pleasure like me, as I am going to a resort. All go to nearby rail station only and take up automatic, high speed electric trains; parking their cars in huge, multistoried parking lots.

Majority of transport is by myriad of trains much faster than the Japanese Bullet train. All factories are operated by smart robots. Most of commercial vehicles on road too are driven by such robots. All stores are operated by such smart robots only. The commuting  people are only those who maintain ultra smart plant, machinery and giant power houses or pleasure seekers like me. All routine production and maintenance is done by smart robots.

All the energy needs of the world are met by millions of large scale Tokomaks ( Controlled Thermonuclear fusion Reactors) . These small replicas of Sun are capable of generating virtually free electricity of the whole world for thousands of years. These have changed the governance of whole world. All industrial/ commercial/ civic/ residential/ transportation operations are driven by their power. They also produce abundant water for human consumption at gigantic desalination plants on seashores. Ocean liners and jet planes are also plying with Tokomak power.

Pollution is a thing of the bygone past. Conflicts between nations for possession of water and energy sources and gruesome wars are also matters of antiquity. The whole world is governed under a single flag of human race : it is a single nation world.

I murmur my choicest poem

The race for existence hinges on a single hope;

O Sun! create your controlled spark in tiny particles.”

(Tokomak is an energy source, that generates thermal power in a controlled way, resembling the operating process on Sun.)

And my car is also plying on the road , thanks to that mammoth source of power. All the evils, pride, jealousy, power struggle, rat race and pushes and pulls of human race are gone forever. I listen to my choicest Gujarati song on radio receiver of my car – a transmission from radio station on Mars.

This new exit has made me a corpuscle of a super human race.

And I wake up again; off this dream, fresh, encouraged and cheerful and take an exit to my notebook to narrate the first reality as also the two fantasies into this article.


Click here for original story in Gujarati

River walk and a closed window

I am sitting on a steel bench on the pleasant river walk of Austin watching the surroundings and activities

On the opposite bank are the skyscrapers of the Down Town. Some are twenty stories high; some are forty or fifty. As anybody would do, my attention gets focused on the largest one – maybe fifty stories tall. All its windows are closed – without any life and inactive. I can’t see, what is happening behind those windows. Maybe one of them belongs to a business tycoon, doing international business, worth billions of dollars. That tycoon may be sitting in his ultra luxurious office chair and mocking over the insignificant Tom, Dick and Harry; wasting their energies on the river walk.

Colorado river is flowing between the river walk and the down town. Its waters have been flowing like this for thousands of years. Various types of boats are gliding over its waters, up and down the stream.

On my side of the river is the passage way for pedestrians – the river walk. Many people; men, women, kids are jogging, running there. Some are speeding up on their bikes. Some have with them various pedigrees of dogs too.

The steel bench, on which I am sitting, is a dead piece of furniture. It is totally lifeless. Nothing is mobile about it. It is going to lie dead and still, like this for years. No perceptible change is possible in its being. Lo! I can think about electrons and protons zooming at ultra high speed around the nuclei of its atoms; on the strength of my imagination and little bit of scientific knowledge about physical structure of materials.

But, is the bench aware of its structure and being?


My attention now shifts to the tree, just behind the bench. Its branches are cooling me off from the piercing afternoon sunrays. Its leaves are being swayed by the gentle breeze, breathing in bright sunshine and producing the life nectar for the tree. On its seemingly dry branches, offshoots are about to sprout at a few places. In a few days, new buds will sprout out; giving fresh birth to a new branch or a flower.

But the tree is neither capable of seeing nor hearing anything. It can neither  feel a touch nor smell. It is not capable of any thoughts. It can’t move even by fraction of an inch. Its consciousness has just gone  a bit beyond that of the steel bench and then has been halted forever at that level.

At that point of time, a dog with a lash round his neck, dangling from the hand of his owner approaches the bench; running and panting, with his tongue dripping out from his mouth. Albeit off his nature and instinct, he goes on nosing all around him and roams here and there. He noses my feet too; but on a nudge  from his owner, he ignores and leaves me.

That dog’s consciousness is far more complex than that of the tree. He can see, hear, smell, taste. He can bark and bite; and run and jump.

But his capacity to think is very limited.

Watching all these, I think that I am capable of doing many more things than that dog. I have the greatest asset that all humans are endowed with – a highly complex mind.

If I determine, I can tear this bench to pieces and heat and reshape its parts. In a roaring furnace, I can melt it outright and cast its liquid matter into a beautiful sculpture.

I can axe the branches of the tree and ignite a tall fire out of it. Or, I can take its seeds and plant them, miles away in a different park and grow many more trees like it.

I can keep dogs or many other animals like that dog and satisfy my instinct as an owner.

Feeling of subtle but certain pride that  ; ‘My consciousness is far, far superior than that dog.’ – has started taking shape in my mind.


Is it not probable that a being far, far superior than mine is also hanging around all about the space – a being that  has such a supreme consciousness that, it does not need any form, shape,  color or even an existence? Is it not feasible that such an element does not have the limitations like those of human mind or being? – an element that envelops everything or is imbibed within all and is making all living and non living to exist, walk, run around, breathe? – an element that makes everything to exist or perish with or without any reason?

Just like that unseen tycoon at the back of that closed window, high up there?

HBD – Internet : 2nd September

Courtsey : Shri Kishor Barhate, Ahmedabad


It may sound surprising, but the Internet is actually 40 years old today. Len Kleinrock, a computer scientist and his team at UCLA began experiments, laying the foundation of what later became the Internet.

On September 2, 1969, two computers send out meaningless test data at Kleinrock’s lab at the University of California, Los Angeles. In the present day, it is well nigh impossible to imagine a world without the world wide web.

And which are the countries with the best Internet connection speed? No, it’s not the United States.

South Korea, Singapore, the Netherlands, Denmark and Taiwan are the top five countries listed in terms of access to high-speed Internet.

The United States ranks 28th in the world in average Internet connection speed according to a report by the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

The average download speed in South Korea is 20.4 megabits per second (mbps), four times faster than the US average of 5.1 mbps.

How it began

The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) created by the United States Department of Defense during the Cold War, was the world’s first operational packet switching network, and the predecessor of the global Internet.

ARPANET became the technical core of what later turned to be the world’s favourite ‘Internet’.

The Internet and Transmission Control Protocols were initially developed in 1973 by American computer scientist Vinton Cerf as part of a project work of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) and directed by American engineer Robert Kahn.

Vinton G. Cerf, known as the ‘father of Internet’, is now the vice president and chief internet evangelist for Google.

He is responsible for identifying new enabling technologies and applications on the Internet and other platforms for the company.

The birth of www

The Internet began as a computer network of ARPA (ARPAnet) that linked computer networks at several universities and research laboratories in the United States.

The design of the Internet was done in 1973 and published in 1974.  The roll out of Internet took place in 1983, after ten years of research and hard work.

Later, the domain names system was proposed. This was followed by introduction of suffixes .com, .gov and .edu in 1984.

The world wide web (www) was developed in 1989 by English computer scientist Timothy Berners-Lee.

He came up with the idea of a project based on ‘hypertext’ while working at CERN, the European Organization for Particle Physics Research.

Berners-Lee’s aim was to enable sharing and updating of information among researchers.

He joined hands with Robert Cailliau to build a prototype system named Enquire. This programme formed the basis for the World Wide Web.

The first browser, WorldWideWeb was developed on NeXTSTEP, and the first Web server was called httpd.

By December 1990, WorldWideWeb became the first successful demonstration of Web clients and servers working on the Internet.

The first Web site built by Berners-Lee at went live on August 6, 1991. Berners-Lee also made his site the world’s first Web directory, adding a list of other sites.

The most remarkable fact about Berners is that he gave it away, without any patent and royalties.

He wrote the first server client programme, the first version of the document formatting language HTML (hyper text mark-up language), and initiated the specifications for URLs (universal resource locators, HTTP (hyper text transfer protocol), and HTML.

With the introduction of the World Wide Web, the Internet gained popularity. It enabled the internet to store text, images, sound and video.

It used a system of hyperlinks (links) using a web browser. The earliest web browsers were Mosaic, Netscape Navigator and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

In 1993, Marc Andreessen and his colleagues at the University of Illinois created Mosaic, the first web browser that combined graphics and text on a single page.

E-mail, a killer app!

The killer application of the Internet was is the e-mail. However, work on creating e-mail started much before the Internet. The Internet was a crucial tool in making the process faster.

E-mail started in 1965 for multiple users of a time-sharing mainframe computer to communicate. MIT first demonstrated the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) in 1961.

It allowed multiple users to log into the IBM 7094 from remote dial-up terminals, and to store files online on disk.

This new ability encouraged users to share information in new ways. E-mail started in 1965 for users of a time-sharing mainframe computer to communicate.

The ARPANET computer network helped in the evolution of e-mail.In 1971, Ray Tomlinson created what later became the standard Internet e-mail address format, using the @ sign to separate user names from host names.

Addicted to the Net

The Internet has hooked billions of people in its web. According to the latest figures, the number of internet users in the world is whopping — 1,596,270,108.

The number of internet users is expected to double over the next few years. According to InternetWorldStats (IWS), China tops in the number of Internet users.

China has 298,000,000 users, followed by US with 227,190,9893 users. Japan comes next at the third place with 94,000,000 users. India comes next with 81,000,000 users. Brazil takes the fifth place with 67,510,400 users.

Internet faces space shortage!

After forty years of existence, the Internet is running short of space. The internet is facing an IP address exhaustion, a fall in the Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) addresses due to the dizzying pace of the Internet’s growth. Internet Protocol version 4 provides about 4.29 billion addresses.

IPv4 addresses are likely to run out by 2011. This will affect the connectivity of the internet and curb its further growth.

The answer to this crisis is Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) which will provide an unlimited number of addresses. It will also enable efficient rollout of broadband, Internet-connected mobile phones and sensor networks.

Many existing networks would need to be upgraded to accommodate the new protocol to growth further and make better and faster technological advances in a medium that unites the world.

Tea – three observations


Tea is ready. Three cups of tea are lying on the breakfast table, full of steaming hot tea, and rich with aroma of fresh mint. But tea is not visible at all – the cups being covered by plastic coasters. The pan, tongs, filter and spoon are lying in the sink, ready for being cleaned. The gas stove is cooling down, having finished its morning chore. Containers of tea and sugar have gone back to their scheduled locations. The one gallon, 2% fat carboy of, bought from WAL-MART has been returned back to its rack in the fridge, slightly emptied. A ceramic plate containing warm, toasts of bread is lying by the side of tea cups, along with a knife and butter spread. My darling notebook computer is waiting, a few feet away in the living room, inviting me to switch it ON.

All seems well organized. The breakfast table is keenly awaiting its morning participants. My wife is enjoying her early morning deep slumber. My daughter and son-in-law are getting ready for post-breakfast commute to job. Their two sons are in deep, carefree vacation recluse in their own, separate rooms.

But two minutes back? Everything was topsy-turvy. Tea was boiling hard in the pan. My hands were ready with tongs in one hand and filter in the other; All around me on the cooking platform were lying the containers of sugar and tea, milk carboy, a plate containing ginger, the hand chopper for ginger, empty cups and saucers. A toaster was busy with bread slices, on a side table, adjoining the breakfast-table. The kitchen was hot with all these morning routines.

And an hour before? The kitchen was in deep, dark slumber. All these things were also at rest on their respective positions. The mint leaves were gently being swayed in light breeze of wind in the backyard. The tiny world of our home was dormant in its early morning sleep. The tea maker and users all were lost in sweet dreams.

And I go on sliding back… and back… and back… in yet distant past.


A morning thirty years back; I am sitting on the dining table of my posh quarter, surrounded by a garden, as also a kitchen garden; well dressed up to go on my job after a refreshing, hot ware shower bath. I am superfluously glancing through the headlines of a Gujarati daily, keenly awaiting call for tea. Mu wife is busy in her morning chore of tea making on a roaring primus stove. A maid servant, living in an attached servant quarter is mending the vegetables for lunch time in the kitchen. A milk man, on a bicycle had just delivered fresh milk of more than 10% fat, which the maid had received, much before we got up. That milk has been heated and is awaiting storage in the fridge after cooling. A portion of similar milk of yesterday, has already been dumped into today’s tea; after skimming out an inch thick layer of cream. My wife is instructing the maid to boil collection of such cream for last ten days and boiling it to make Ghee (saturated butter). A small containing special spice for tea, ground by hand by the maid is shining beside the containers for tea and sugar, on the cooking platform. Just opposite me, on the dining table, is a pot containing hot, spicy and delicious Indian breakfast made from rice crispy and potatoes.

Our daughter, presently working as software manager, forty miles away, is only nine years old and is lost in her fairy tales world. She is going to wake up much later to attend a nearby elementary school. Our twin-sons, only four years old are snoring in bed, with their governess.

But the tea is going to be of the same taste.


With the fifth child in her womb, my mother is sitting on ground floor of a three storied, narrow house of a dense residential locality (called a POL). She has barely been successful in lighting up a heavily smoking, charcoal stove. My father has just returned from his overnight job of a railway wireless operator and is keenly studying the fresh news in a newspaper, waiting for tea to be ready. All of us four siblings are deep asleep on the second floor in beds on floor aligned in a line.

Just a few minutes back a shepherd woman has delivered fresh milk from a brass, country milk pot. ( Bogharana), of course abundantly diluted by water ! As if obliging us, she has given extra milk in less than a quarter full of milk measuring bottle! There is no cooking platform here. All items needed for tea making are brought and placed by her side from a store room behind kitchen. A glass kerosene lamp is hanging dead from a wooden peg on the side wall of the kitchen. The lamp has just been put off after daybreak: the same lamp with the help of which , I had finished my home work, yesterday evening and copied numbers ONE and TWO with earthen chalk on my slate.

But that tea is not for us siblings. Our parents somehow managed to ensure that all four of us drink milk and milk only – morning and evening – though they themselves live frugally. A little away from her lies a round, brass box with lid, tinned by my mother herself; containing dry tortilla, roasted by herself from the leftover tortillas of yesterday. These will constitute our breakfast with milk, when we wake up.

The charcoal stove is not going to coo, down (like the primus or gas stove) after tea is ready. It is going to get its siesta only after lunch has been cooked.

However, tea is going to have the same taste.


Three cups of tea: one by a mother, another by a wife and the third one by self.

Shall I say frankly? I like the taste of tea made by myself.


I remove the plastic coaster from my cup of tea. I see droplets of water from condensed vapor. I see the tears of mu mother, formed in her eyes, due to the irritating smoke of the charcoal stove.

Translated from

ચા તૈયાર છે – ત્રણ અવલોકન

Birth of God

It was in the dim light of twilight that homo found himself trapped, on a branch of a tree in the thick forest.

All that afternoon, he was on a wild chase of a deer. Clever and skilled, though he was in stone slinging, that creature had proved itself more adroit than himself. It had skipped all his trajectories and he had lost all stones in the leather bag on his waist. As he searched for a few more amidst thick growth around, the smart deer vanished behind the chunky bushes.

As homo was gazing in vain to find its traces; he could see two glaring eyes in the grove. He ran and the beast jumped out of the thicket. So the chaser was transformed into one being chased. He fled at his best into the open for a while but knew that it was impossible to outwit the cunning and speedier tiger. It dawned on him that only rescue for him would be a tree. He madly rushed towards a tree on the side and stated climbing, barely avoiding the wild animal; although it did succeed in tearing off his leg just above the ankle. He screamed in pain and could barely raise himself at a safe distance with his left foot            bleeding profusely. He thought he would faint; but with deep breath he clenched his teeth and clamped his arms around a branch and lay there panting.

The tiger was waiting for him to fall below. After a while, he got a bit more alert and could climb a bit further and rested there, panting. He thought himself lucky that the beast was not a panther that could have chased him up the tree.

As homo lay there for an hour, it started getting darker and yet darker. It was then that he heard that hissing sound from somewhere nearby. In faint light he could see something crawling – a cobra? With fright he looked around and found a creeper just a bit away. He madly crept to grab it and swing himself. Long that it was; he could rope it up and jump over to another branch, hardly escaping a fall down below. The left foot pained severely, but he could not afford to pay any heed to it.

And there homo lay   in the darkness of night with no moon and acute hunger chewing up his belly. The clouds in the distant west had become thicker and were looming overhead in dark and gloomy sky. It was then that it started drizzling. It was then a downpour, which went on increasing and eventually it burst out in torrents. Fully wet and weak, he shivered with every blast of the cruel, shrill and howling wind on that winter night.

His mind added to the physical plight with the thought that, all the traces he had left behind, to reach back to his cave would be washed away with the heavy downpour. He had already lost his sense of direction in his mad chase of the deer as also of the tiger for him.

He did not know when he went in deep slumber in his miserable destiny, and dreamt of a ghastly end to his life, surrounded by skeletons dancing in ghoulish steps of death. Strange and fearful dragons were spitting out red flames of venom. His thoughts had stopped and he had the only feeling of deep set fear, in his entire being.

In that mental and physical state of his being, dawn slowly started creeping. The clouds had partially cleared and the first rays of a distant Sun gently started sweeping away the veil of darkness. In that dim light, his eyes opened in a nearly cadaverous body. There was no thought, neither any feeling of awe nor fear of death. It was a state neither of life nor death. He just glared emptily at sky, slowly getting brighter with passage of time.

Through the thicket of branches he saw distant clouds, slowly getting visible. Their color slowly started getting formed. First a light grey, the a bit white and then yellow, and then light orange, dark orange, light red and then at last fiery red with first rays of Sun penetrating the horizon within his reach. And through that cluster of clouds, a shape like the fiery eye of a huge being slowly started forming. His being arose from the deep loneliness and started experiencing presence of a distant but enormous being. There was only an eye there surrounded by a scarlet mass without any cognizable shape.

And through that enormous eye, golden rays popped out, telling him something. The message they delivered was not in words that his conscious mind could decipher. It was a message that could only be experienced – not understood. He got charged with that novel experience and could visualize his being slowly creeping back from non existence to life. His limbs started getting sense of life slowly creeping back. His pain in the hurt leg was gone. He started crawling down the branch and then down the trunk of the tree and started walking senselessly in a direction without any aim or desire.

Some unknown force was just forcing him to walk, walk and just walk. The Sun had risen now and the eye of that enormous being had disappeared. The clouds were swept away by a gentle breeze. He knew not where he was going. He was drifting in trance, driven by some unknown force. His surroundings did not mean anything to him.

And then they started appearing familiar to him. The shapes of green trees and rocks started meaning something that was known to him. He realized that he was approaching his familiar abode – his caves. He started running in joy now, though limping a bit on account of pain in his left foot.

Pretty soon, he found himself surrounded by his folks- his dear wife and his kids and his friends and neighbors. After the hugs and cheers and food and drinks, he started narrating his fate last evening, his tryst with destiny and his miraculous escape from death. The memories of his savior with a single, large eye and enormous crimson body were distinctly clear in his mind.

Homo thanked that unknown, shapeless being, whose bright golden eye had given him his life back. Homo called Him a God.

That was when God was born. Since then God is living in all human minds forever.


   I was passing over a bridge in my car. A date was written at entrance to the bridge, mentioning when it was constructed. The work would have lasted for two years or so. Before that it would have been very difficult for the people to cross the river. It might have needed a long drive through another bridge. Perhaps people might be using boats. They might have to transfer goods from one vehicle to boat and then to another too.

   Somebody made the bridge and now many are benefited on its account. Toil of a few people and a fixed cost; and gain for many.

  We can join two banks with such efforts and expenditure. But can’t we build bridges between minds of people, between  different ways of thinking and beliefs? And lo! It does not need any expenditure or physical, efforts. What is needed is just change of attitude.  We have just to reach the mind of the other person. We have to build a mental bridge only. We have just to reorient our thoughts, speech and actions, just an open minded compromise in our fixed way of being.

  If such bridges were there, so many wars, vengeance, bloodshed and grief    could have been avoided.

  But it is building such bridges that is the most difficult!



Translated from – 


Empty house

     It is a new house recently constructed or an old one renovated and for sale or it is a house recently bought. Whatever be the case, it is an empty house and the new residents are going to occupy it soon. Its brightness and cleanliness are conspicuous. There is loneliness of being unoccupied, but there is hope too. The passion for life that is going to be lived is in the perspective. New furniture will come in, fresh food will be cooked and its aroma will fill all its spaces. Melodies of pleasing and romping music are going to resonate the walls. Hymns of sacred prayer to the deity are going to be chanted. Pretty soon the chatter and laughter of kids is going to reverberate all around. The pink hue of romance and love is going to blossom in secret corners behind closed doors. New life is going to be lived here. The house is awaiting in all these aspirations.

    There is another empty house too. It has been vacated recently. The residents have just now left it to stay elsewhere. Useless, left out,  diverse futile things – torn and worn cloth pieces, waste papers, cobwebs, dust and trash are lying helter skelter all around. More prominent and sobbing are the looming loneliness and the vanished lives that have deserted the home. The entire being of the house is dark and gloomy. Dark clouds of solitude have totally vanquished the milieu. That gap is not going to be filled in soon. There are only despair and desertion all around. There is no life here. It is an empty house – not a home.


      This could be house, a relation. It could be a road, a new thought, a novel experience. It could be an unborn tune generated in the mind of a musician. It could be an unread, emotion filled and rhythmic lyric that has just arisen in the bosom of a poetic heart.  It could be the unblosomed bud of a flower, a newly born infant or aspirations of a bride that has just experienced the first touch of love.

       It could be a vacated house or the palace of a defeated king broken by the sledge hammer of the conqueror, howling in deep grief for the splendor that is never going to come back. It could be a deserted, lifeless road weeping for the lives and dreams annihilated after a riot. It could be a terminated and broken relationship. It could be old newspapers  stacked away on a shelf that will never be read again; or it could be dull sentiments or insensitive thoughtlessness. It could be life lived only for the self.  It could be a gloomy heart wailing  mutely for permanent departure of a loved one.

     Are not the clownish lives, that are selfish, intolerant, unsympathetic, devoid of any fervor and passion  also like that empty house?

Travel in a slum

    This is a story of year 1999. I was a Sr. Manager in one of the distribution zones of my employer – Electricity Utility of a big city in Western India. In a big city like that, we had a couple of zones like mine, As I was in its charge, all officers and employees were reporting to me. My zone was the biggest in the company; hence we had all types of customers.

   I had various types of tasks. It was like a mini company by itself. A part of these tasks was a very essential, but obnoxious one – ‘To detect and curb power theft.’

    In one of the meetings, the officer in charge of meter reading section reported that thefts are prevalent on large scale, in a big slum near a small village on the outskirts of the city. I was in search of a massive operation. So this information clicked. I decided on the back of my mind to undertake a massive raid in that area. We do not declare such decisions publicly amongst our staff in advance, to maintain secrecy and ensure that the defaulter customers do not get advance information. Only after thorough preparations we declare it – after reaching just a mile or so away from the target place.

    It was a very big slum area, consisting of about 1000 residences. I had never visited a slum area in my life, and I too was keen to see it for myself. Hence I also joined that venture. I had quite a big crew – almost like a small platoon. I had arranged additional staff on loan from other two zones too. Total strength was about 100 people. A few armed guards were also included. We had necessary communication equipment too. The whole congregation reached the destination and we started the operation. I joined one of the groups to watch it for myself.

   In fact it was not a typical, unauthorized slum – like many mushrooming on the outskirts of the city. They were Low Income group quarters, built under a Municipal housing scheme. Each one consisted of just a small room and very small kitchen, without any bathroom or toilet. In such colonies, these facilities are provided on common sharing basis. Still they were occupied by very poor people. I could see signs of poverty everywhere – Dirt, mud, broken furniture, lying outside, rags tingling from windows and doors, debris spread all around.

   Each house was given power supply by means of a small cable. We could observe that there was a small, black, plastic tape on almost all such cables. A small, flexible, two core wire was dangling from that point on the cable and was entering the house.

   At one house, we opened the tape and could see two nails driven through the insulation of power cable; to which, the flexible wire was twisted. This was direct, crude power theft, from ahead of the energy meter! We removed all these as also fuses from the power supply switch. A woman was watching this with crestfallen face, full of fear and sorrow. My assistant officer handed over a legal disconnection notice to her as also a demand for payment of penal charges. She was on the point of weeping. Her eyes were telling something. Out of curiosity, I asked her ,” Do you want to say anything?”

   In a voice mixed with fear and sobs she said” Sir! Where shall I get the money to pay to Dada?”

   I did not understand. I asked the electrician, what she meant to say. He was familiar with such locations. He mentioned,” She is talking about the slumlord (Dada) of the area. Moment we go out, Dada’s men will come over, take 100/- Rupees and give connection afresh – fuse or no fuse! Those who pay money to them will get power supply in a jiffy. Every month Dada gets 50/- rupees for power supply charges too. Our company does not get a single paisa (penny) !“

   I got taken aback; there was a parallel, unauthorized power supply administration! At the cost of our power Dada was getting empowered. We went to a few more places and found similar situation. Our entire operation was futile. Our raid was going to put in more riches in the lap of Dada. More evils are going to be nurtured.

   With a grim face and mind, I went further. A bit away from that house, under the open sky and in blazing sun, an old man was lying down on a half broken, wooden cot. There was no place for it in the house. He had acclimatized himself in this air conditioned space! He was coughing and spitting around while sleeping. Two totally naked kids were playing around him in total disregard of the dirt around.

  We went a bit beyond. I saw three ruffians watching our activities. Their faces were looking horrible. I asked the electrician, who they were.

   He answered, “ They are from Dada’s gang. They are just waiting for us to leave. Moment we are OFF, they will start their operation of collecting money and reconnecting the supply. They are highly pleased with us – additional income for them! “

    We proceeded beyond. In front of a house two more ruffians were sitting on a cot. I was told that they sell illicit liquor, hidden in that house. (There is prohibition for selling of liquor in my city.) As I looked at them, one of them offered a free drink to me. He added that he has authentic and imported liquors too. This was a pathetic revelation for state of affairs in the biggest city of Gujarat ,native state of Gandhiji – a strong believer of prohibition.

    We went further on. Two teenage girls were standing near the door wearing just a blouse and short slacks. Their growing bosoms were apparently being revealed inviting ravishers. Their hands were moving over their open thighs in suggestively seductive posture.

   That was end of my patience. I felt myself totally incapacitated, ineffective and inefficient. I blurted out to my assistants,

   ”Let us go back. This raid is totally useless.”

   We went back to our office. But for three days, the scenes I had witnessed with my own eyes hovered over my mind. They were resounding, loud and clear.

   The slum world was challenging my culture, the civilized society, the dream world of poetic justice and niceties. It had torn open the curtains of my snobbishness.


Transalated from … 

સ્લમમાં સફર