Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Hear the deaf world

What if  you are dispatched into a country where people speak a language you have no clue of and vice-verse. You wouldn't be able to listen to the happenings around you, and you would just have to guess what was going around?  You'd see someone talking to you but you wouldn’t know what he/she is talking? You would’ve liked or disliked something but you could not be able to express it in words?

This is exactly what the deaf and dumb go through. They aren't disabled but sent to a place different than theirs. They too can communicate with people who speak their language;the sign language.
What would you expect from the people of a different country is exactly what the deaf and dumb expect from us; communication, understanding,opportunity and equality.

Ruma Roka's inspiring words.

No, we aren’t sympathizing on them, no, not at all.

This article is about why they are better at certain things than anyone else. Let us focus on their ability.

A deaf person doesn’t get anything easily ever because of which they value every single thing which becomes a part of their life. They’re loyal.

They put in a lot of thought before deciding on doing/wanting something, because they know that they have to put in a lot of efforts to achieve it. They’re organized and focused.

They know how to get what they want and a struggle to achieve the same is what makes them more hardworking than any normal person.  

They should be every company's dream employees. They’re loyal, organized, focused and hardworking souls. Still, in India they’re considered special, specially challenged to an extent where they’re not even considered for any job openings. Most deaf and dumb people in India are doing clerical jobs or any other documenting work.

I’m not saying any work is demeaning but if an efficient person is asked to be a peon, that is ridiculous.A lot of things are changing in India but not at the required pace. Due to the Persons With Disabilities act (PWD), deaf and dumb are now working in government sectors but they are very few people.

In India there are nearly 10-15 million deaf people. Do you think all of them are working? NO!
Instead of whining about how the society fails let us explore what we could do to bring about a change.

Beginning with....

How many of us know to speak the ISL (Indian sign language)?

If you aren’t an NGO person or have a deaf person in your family, I bet most of you won’t know the sign language. Everybody wants to learn French, Japanese ,Spanish, German. Would speaking in these languages to people who already know them, get a smile that you would never forget in your whole life?  If you can use you tube to see the latest SCAM, I’m sure you could invest some time in learning this wonderful language which says everything withoutreally saying anything.

Note, they don’t want you to make them feel special. Remember, the moment you do that, you discriminate. To make them feel a part of the society do not sympathize, but be normal and for that you need to be able to communicate with them.

One such person who is making a difference is Ms. Ruma Roka.  I saw a video of hers and was inspired to write this piece. She is the founder of the Noida Deaf society.The mission of the Noida Deaf Society is to mainstream the deaf people into the community through specialized vocational programmes leading to gainful employment. After their specific course completion the organization also recruits the students in renowned companies.

 Ms Ruma Roka has struggled to prove that the disabled are more able than anyone else.

With over 625 students being recruited,NDS inspires us to contribute in some way or the other and make a little difference. So how many of you have made up your mind to learn ISL?

Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012.Ruma Roka at TED

Sunday, 28 July 2013

"I don't really exist"

Tring Tring the phone rang. I hoped it to be Ritika and it was her to my delight.

“If I ever become famous and if anyone from my future generations would ever decide to pen down our family history  apart from a lot of chaotic confusions ,it would contain 7 world wars and if someone decides to do a thesis of the same they would discover a very important facet i.e the source of genes for weak mathematics was me.”

“Shamika, it all lies in your head. I have recently read somewhere- whatever you tell your mind you become that. There are so many people who aren’t good at Maths, you aren’t the first one”

“ But Ritika, I’m the first one in my entire family and extended family. They are all good at Maths, Mom got me checked when I was 7.”

“Yes, but it was to know your mental state and not for tracing your DNA. Plus, the doctor had told her very clearly that you are normal. Your problem is that you refuse to concentrate.”

“That isn’t true, ofcourse I try to but just when I begin to try to understand the shapes of all those numbers get the hell out me. '0' is my favourite number, because it is the only number that is a complete shape, all other numbers are incomplete shapes. The moment those numbers come before my eyes I spontaneously begin thinking of ways to reshape it and just when I start imagining nicer shapes, I realize that the solution to the problem is already explained.”

“By concentration , I mean this. You focus in the wrong areas.”

“I don’t deliberately do that, it just happens. I cannot explain you. According to you Maths is the most logical subject, but I think the other way round.  Who decided to name numbers?  Why do we stretch only 4 fingers to show 4? And could anyone tell me why all the scientists known to us were all good at maths…. Why wasn’t there anyone who wasn’t good at Math?”

“Scientists who were uninterested in math were mostly called Artists. Anyway,  why do you make such a deal out of Maths every time? You know you are intelligent, you top in History every year  and you are not bad in other subjects?”

“Yes, but our school mark sheet has a column for Math Marks?  Until that column disappears, it is normal to worry.”

“Okay, Okay, what is it that you are studying now? How much is left?”

“Firstly, I don’t study Maths … I learn it and secondly ask me how much is done….because I forget what I studied 10 mins ago after every 10 mins. I’m left with everything I guess! WoW… tomorrow is Maths paper”

“Relax Shamika, you still have one night to go.”

“That is exactly the problem. Like every year Mom had taken a leave today for my Maths paper.”

“hahahaha… 7th world war in 7th grade, ahhahaha”


“Ritika,I will have to hang the phone now, I think she is done with pleasing all the Gods… now she’ll displease me. I’ll call you later. Byee”


I ran into the kitchen, checked on my mother’s gestures to know her mood when she said, “God, be with my child, let only those questions whose answers are known to Shamika  be asked in the paper.”

I told myself in my mind, “If god was with me, there would never be Maths.”

My mom stared at me as if she was trying to read my mind.

I grabbed hold of the bananas lying in the fruit basket and said, “Do you think GOD will listen to a woman who hits her child so brutally.”

My mom looked me in the eye. Her sight penetrated right through such that all her thoughts passed like cosmic rays into my brain and screamt  saying ,”My hands are swollen, I’ve just got an  injection, my headache refuses to lessen such that I had to give up on you like every time and you are eating bananas.”

After a 6.5 second short stare she said, “Any woman will, if her 12 year old child tells her- 2x3 is 5 a day before the Maths paper.  You have told yourself that you aren’t good at Maths and have accepted it but I haven’t.”

I was about to bite the banana however I lost all hopes in life, no , not in me but my mother and I returned to my room. I decided to demonstrate the- “you are what you tell your mind” theory. I told my mind that I’m Pythagoras. I imagined a Triangle and just when  was about to figure out the triplet 2-3-5, I heard something ringing, however I tried to focus on the triplets.... now the sound was even stronger. I suddenly opened my eyes, just to check if it was my landline. Although my landline wasn’t ringing  I  decided to  pick up the phone. When I placed the receiver at my ear , TRING TRING  the phone rang…..

I was stumped; how come there was a TRING TRING sound being heard when I hadn’t dialed anyone’s number? So I kept the receiver down and again placed it near my ear… The TRING TRING sound was still being heard. This time I didn’t keep the phone down. I wanted to know who was on the other line and how come the phone had dialed a number on its own. I thought, maybe, this is how the phone ends up calling random people on its own and mom shouts at me for the never decreasing bills.  It was an unusually long dial tone. 

Then, it seems the receptionist picked the phone and instead of asking me , “Whom can I connect you to?” She said, “Ms Shamika  you are on hold for the next 7 seconds, 5…4…3…2..1…”

Then came a heavenly voice, “Shamika, first let me tell you that out of the vast population out there we only select 1 person in every one hundred years to communicate with, that too ,only when we find something really logical in their worry. Congratulations, you are the chosen one in the past 100 years.”

I was on top of the world, I didn’t care who they were because I had never felt so happy about not knowing anything ever before.  

I said,"Who are you and how am I talking to you without dialing your number?”

“I’m talking to you because you remembered me.”

“Ohh my GOD… You are GOD? My mom shall go mad at me if she comes to know that you spoke to me and not her, wait I’ll call her.”

“Ohh common, I’m not GOD but we function more or less like him. If I was, I would come in your dream. Well we do not have access to dreams because we do not have a face, in your words, what you rightly pointed at – THE SHAPE.  By the way,I’m INFINITY.”


“I’m the Number GOD.”

“What , so you should know that I hate you all…

He cut my sentence and said, “That is exactly why I’m talking to you.  See, I did tell you that we more or less function like GOD’s . Just as God sometimes talks to Atheists, people who do not believe in him; we too talk to people who don’t believe in us.”

“But I’m not the only one who hates you.”

“You’re right, but you are a loyal unbeliever. Others sometimes like us when they score well in Maths, however you have hated us even after you’ve scored well; which was in Grade 3 – Sem 3 and Grade 5 –Sem 2, the time when you’re mother had got a migraine attack and was hospitalized.”

“What else do you expect? She was on leave for 5 days and I had said, 10x1 is 0.”

“Yes, so coming to the point, we believe a loyal unbeliever could be a remarkable believer. However, no bread is free. We believe in business.”

“Yeah I know, numbers and business go hand in hand. Tell me what you want?”

Infinity cleared his throat and said, “Just like 0 , we want you to reshape the rest of the numbers. Remember, you had said, the moment these numbers appear before you, you think of how badly they’re shaped and fail to understand the solution of the problem. The entire digit questioning of yours –Why do we stretch only 4 fingers to show 4?  So we want you to design us in a way that you could understand.

Give us any shape, any design,any color.”

“Why don’t you ask the one who designed 0, my favourite number.”

“Actually, no one knows who designed us. We don’t know our womb”

“Awwww, I’m so sorry !!”

“Never mind”

“Infinity, are you serious? Because I’m on the job…. Give me a pen and a paper, I have thought of excellent shapes for you.”

“Shamika, no , we don’t need a paper, Just like the telephone we work through telepathy. Telepathy means reading one’s mind. So, as far as you can imagine those shapes, we can see them.”

“Cool Infinity, are you ready? So note down  ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX , SEVEN, EIGHT, NINE”

“Shamika, you are a genius….. You have given us not only eyes and other features but  different colored clothes as well. Thank You so much.”

“Actually, I should be thanking you…. WOW, now it would be much easier for me to understand Maths. I can now figure out everything I studied…. Suddenly it is all getting organized in my head. Everything is rising from the ashes, hahhaa. I think tomorrow’s paper is going to be really good.”

“Yeah, it will. All the best.”

“That reminds me to ask you, have you called me or has my phone called you? If the bill is too much…aaaa ..Are you from Maharashtra ? If you are from some other state, difficult times lie in the next month for me. Are you even from my country? How much would a call charge in the universe? The bill would be my last will…

“Hahahahhaha, check your next months bill, you’ll come to know.”

“By the way, I forgot to design you, Infinity?’’

“Shamika, I don’t really exist, I'm Infinity.”

Those were the last words I heard. That day onward, no, I never topped in Maths, but my Mom never had to hit me a day prior to my Maths exams. I'd like to believe, it wasn't just an imagination.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

I saw, I learnt

I don't know if I'm born with defects as I perceive it,which could be perceived as a god gift by an optimist. I guess, the set up of our mind is the result of a trial and error method (learning and deleting) that happens in our sub conscious mind. Whatever processes in our sub conscious is what we are totally unaware of and that is exactly what changes your life. Incidences that change us, our thoughts and the vision of looking at life are what we see and we learn from.This data enters your sub conscious mind first, because you hadn't planned learning it and after sometime when you ponder over the magnitude of its effect on you, you become completely conscious of what you see and then you learn.

In this post I shall describe what I saw and I learnt.

When I was 11,I had participated in a prayer dance performance of my school annual day. We had to shake our legs to the tunes of 'Pyaasa hiran jaise'. The protagonist according to the lyrics of the song was a deer, hence, it was mandatory to have a deer in the song. The teachers incharge of the prayer dance said,"the girl who chooses to be the deer gets to be in the centre and she'll be the lead".None of the girls expressed a desire to be the deer. However, I did. I was so happy throughout all the practice sessions being in the centre. All other girls used to envy me for having raised my hand first before anyone else. I was always told by the teachers that I'd be noticed before anyone else, so my expressions and steps had to be perfect. I was all happy until an hour before the performance when my teachers got the costume and I discovered that I had to wear a deer-mask. I was so devastated on realizing that the teachers have fooled me.

"My face wouldn't be seen, how will people come to know that I was the deer, I was dancing beautifully, I was in the centre?". I refused to perform. My teachers called my mother and pleaded her to make me understand. Ideally even my mother should have been angry with the teachers for having fooled her daughter.

However, my mother did not say a word to them.Instead she told me,"Animals are the most beautiful creatures made by God. No one ever gets a chance to be an animal. Look around, everybody is wearing outfits that you will get a chance to wear ahead in your life. No one is as lucky as you, you get to be an animal. You are the lucky one. Don't you want to make the maximum use of this opportunity. Do you want to follow the crowd or do you want to be different?"

I was blown by what my mother had said. Suddenly I felt all good about my outfit, I felt different. I could see people looking at me through those mask holes where my eyes rested. That was the happiest moment of my life.

I saw and I learnt that it is only the different that is noticed and celebrated and  it is only the one who discovers good in the bad who is different.

From that day on, I have always done everything differently and somehow I have always stood out without even trying to be.

According to others I was a fool to be happy in the deer outfit. I learnt, I don't have to care a damn as to what others think or say if I am convinced about my decisions. Since I don't care a damn about what others think, I'm responsible for whatever happens with my life and I should blame no one but myself for my failures and success.

I am sharing what 'I Saw and I Learnt' at in association with

Sunday, 7 July 2013

When you say nothing at all

If my day hadn’t begun with a tea-sipping hiss-hiss sound, a 1950’s C grade song of a F grade movie, a wet floor, tremendous sound of utensils  and finally overhearing world’s most ridiculous gossips , I wouldn’t believe I am alive. No, I’m not talking about my wife. I’m a 33 year old  accountant  and I’m talking about  my 33 year old roommate, Iris. It's a HE.  Do not ponder over his name as there are a lot of other unusual things that deserve more attention.  Unlike most Parsi families, Iris’ family is a huge one. It comprises of 67 people.  

They are much respected in the Parsi community. They had to be, I mean, one of their ancestors must have come to the rescue of the decreasing population. Actually, I owe a lot to that ancestor. If it wasn’t for him , I would have never met Iris and got a chance to attend their wonderful weddings and relish the awesome food. 

Iris was so attractive. He was a 5.3 feet 70 kg human, with most weight concentrated in his stomach and cheek region. Every child is fascinated by him. He would stand out in any crowd, literally. He hated crowded places, which was one of the reasons as to why he didn’t travel by local transport owing to which he was jobless since 3 years. He however used to manage money from somewhere to pay the house rent and survive.  I have never seen him sitting idle though, he was much busier than a working man.

Meet Iris.
He used to get up at 7.30am sharp. He would warm the water in the microwave , transfer it to his cup , insert a tea bag into it and see every particle dissolving into the water very carefully  and then begun hissing i.e sipping.  The hissing sound was so loud that my day,since 3 years commenced from this sound.  I would try to cover my ears with pillows when he would sing ,

“Dil se nikle paathar , daane …kahaan chale gaye koi na jaane.
 Jo dhund laye unhe wohi  insaan kehlaayeeeeee………
Chuhe unhe dhundkaar laaye  yeh koi na mane isliye
unjaise kaale kaale hain yeh rahein ”….  

I never intended learning these lyrics. I came to know that I’d learn’t it when I unknowingly heard a similar tune in my office and began singing this song.
After listening Iris sing this song, I used to forcibly get up only to feel the wet floor. Iris seldom came out of the bathroom and soaked his legs by walking around in house. Iris always used to enter the kitchen with the view of cooking and never end up doing anything apart from making a lot of noise. Then he used to call up someone everyday and gossip about different issues like, “I think the cat in my building is a bisexual”.

I would think I have woken up to discover that I've died if I didn't encounter this daily dose. I had become so used to it.

In this post I’m describing that one day when I’d thought I was dead.

It was the 2nd of March, I had by now become conditional to the time of this hissing sound.  I woke up sharp at 7.53 but there was no hissing sound being heard. I rubbed my ears for a minute but even the god-forsaken song wasn’t being heard. I rested my foot on the floor to get up and the floor too wasn’t wet.  I didn’t take a second to think , Iris is dead.  To reach the hall we had to pass by the kitchen and what I saw in the kitchen skipped a heartbeat… YES, I saw an omelette. I rushed into the hall and what I saw next is noted down in history. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Iris was sitting on the dining table and eating the omelette instead of gossiping. Now, I thought, I was dead. I looked at my refection on the granite edge of our kitchen, it was very much looking like me.

Iris must have sensed my fidget that he turned around . He glared at me silently as I walked towards the dining table.  I had never had such a steady and a long eye contact with anyone ever to an extent that I didn’t realize as to when the stare converted into a ‘who will blink first’ type competition or so it seems.

After a few minutes I realized that Iris could go on the whole day but I have to reach office on time.
Breaking the silence, I said, “Iris, are you fine?’’

Iris simply smiled and nodded his head

I said, “I’m talking to you… hello… why were you staring at me?’’

Iris opened his mouth to say something , that raised my hopes of being in a normal atmosphere which shattered in the next few seconds when he shut his mouth immediately.


Not looking at me Iris said, “I was staring at you because you were staring at me.”

“Iris… look.. aa.. umm… are you fine? Look there’s nothing to worry about , you’ll get a job soon… if you need money or anything else, I’ll help you out.”

This time Iris smiled again and said nothing. 

Reaching the peak of my curiosity I said, “When you say nothing at all is when something goes terribly wrong.”

Iris smiled again. 

I said, “The last time you went silent was when later that evening, a drunk cop was trying to jump off our balcony, singing 'Maar Daala' song and you were clicking his  pictures.”

Iris finally broke his silence and said, “I wasn’t clicking pictures but taping him. You never get your facts straight.”

“If stating the facts wrongly is the only way to break your silence then why not?”

“Relax, I’m practicing for a very important transformation in my life and I’m not disclosing the details.”

"Cool, as far as we don't have an incident on the lines of the previous one, I'm fine".

Iris had finished eating the omelette by the end of our conversation. As I still stared at him he carried all the utensils to the basin and washed them on his own.  Without wasting anymore time I got ready to go to office. When I was tying the lace of my shoes, Iris was sitting in the same place since an hour. This was like those gentle winds which blow before the hurricane. 
I prayed to God to make everything alright by the end and left the house. 

Throughout my train journey, I thought,I had forgotten something . I kept checking my pockets and bag again and again to reassure if I am carrying everything. Yes, I was. On analyzing that  feeling furthermore, I realized, it wasn't the feeling of having forgotten something but missing something. I was missing the song and the gossip session more than anything else. I was restless all the while. I checked Iris' FB and twitter updates to know about what must have led to this sudden change. But there were no leads. All the while I waited to see the clock read 5.30 pm and when it did I ran out of the office the way I did when my mothers best friends wanted to kiss on my cheeks in childhood.

I rang the bell almost 25 times but Iris did not open the door. I thought this time a cop must have definitely jumped off along with Iris. I opened the door with my house keys only to see blood stains on the foor. It was as if someone stained in blood was dragged towards the bedroom. I pictured Iris' dead body with his green favourite Ganji and gathered guts to move towards the bedroom. It was then that I realized that someone was dragged out of the house and not the other way round.

More than being scared I was confused. I didn't know if Iris had dragged someone out or he was dragged by someone. I immediately called up the police. Their team reached in half an hour. They looked around at the mess in the house and said, "It seems a lot of struggle has happened here before whatever must happened".

I said, "Sir, the house is usually worse than this, today it is a bit better because my roomie was in a a..aa... aa.. vaguely better mood. Two bachelor's sir..."

"So where is your roomie?"

"I don't know Sir. His phone is switched off and he is usually home at this time, in fact I have come home much earlier today."

"Anyway, we've informed his family members as we need to know where he is, said the policeman.

While taking the blood samples into the test tube lookalike one of their officers said, "this doesn't look like blood... this is something else I think."

I spontaneously said, "Then it definitely is my roommates' ", only to realize later that I shouldn't have said that.

I hadn't finished cursing myself  when I received a call from a local landline number. I picked up the call and heard a shivering voice trying to say something that couldn't be heard due to network issues.

I stepped in the balcony for better receptivity and the shivering voice said,"Hello Subu, this is...

I said, "Iris.... Iris you are alive... where are you?"

Iris cut my sentence and said, "Subu I'm in a terrible uncalled for mess... I'm at Oshivara police station."

"Police station? huh? Did they catch you with the body?"

"What body? Just come here Subu"

On reaching the police station I saw a giant red stuffed potato on a wooden bench. As I went closer to that giant potato  I noticed some human features, beginning from body hair, face etc. At a one feet distance a chill went down my spine as I screamt, " IRIS....... Who did this to you?"

He looked up at me, dropped his jaw and said, "I".

I took a minute pause and thought of what I should think and said, "WHY?"

"The children's street festival event organizers needed a 'laughing buddha' and were ready to pay a good sum of Rs 10000 for 1 day which I go,t but I don't have them with me anymore."

On hearing that I could just think of one word, "Why?"

"When I was counting the money in a creepy lane and thief snatched all the money and ran away. The thief broke out into a housing society however none of the society members paid attention to catch him instead kept looking at me. The thief then got into a house and jumped off its window and I was hardly 15 steps away from him when ..."

 " A lady who got all scared of his fancy red appearance when he barged into her house ,jumped off her balcony and hurt herself and an old man." countered the policeman.

" For God's sake ,she stayed on the ground floor and just before she jumped off her balcony,a rat was nearing her foot. You can't blame me without confirming from the obese lady if it was the rat or me?", protested Iris

To know the correct chronology of the events I asked ,"So Iris was 15 steps away from the balcony and had just entered the obese lady's home when she and an old man jumped off together. Right?''

Iris said, "No, the obese lady jumped off and crumbled upon an old uncle who was passing by her window. Moreover, how can she be scared of me? She was double my size, she would've easily taken me."

I asked the policeman, "Well in that case, is the old man alive?"

"The old man is in his last moments according to the doctor and the lady is still unconscious. If the man dies off , I'm afraid, Mr. Iris will be charged of...."

Iris interrupted,"No! I did not kill anybody... I can't kill anybody.... I'm telling you it was the rat, please speak to the lady. I can't believe this has happened to me.... firstly my Rs.10000 are stolen, if it wasn't for this lady I too would've jumped off the window behind the thief and got my money. Gosh.. I hate rats!"

The lady came back to her senses at 2.00 am. The police reached her place in half an hour to ask her if it was Iris or the rat. Without thinking for a single moment she said,"That obese man clashed against my flower pot, which broke down and a rat which I was trying to trace since months ran out of the pot towards my leg ...and.. a.. a. I got scared and jumped off the window. I fainted when the rat too jumped off through a small hole in my balcony and slid through my curvaceous body to reach the ground."

In a couple of hours after this statement was noted an unexpected news came along. The policeman said, "The old uncle is out of danger... he is absolutely fine."

No sooner did the 'what a relief' feeling sank in than a strange voice with a familiar pitch  was heard saying, "Iris... ohh my son.... Iris...your alive.... I was so worried. What are you doing here."

"Mom it is a long story."

Iris whispered in my ear saying, "Why is she asking me if I'm alive?"

I said, "It is a long story."

His mom looked at him from head to toe and said, "You told me you are working as a nurse in a renowned hospital.... why are you in this get up then?"

Iris looked at me with- 'a shut your mouth now' type expression and said, "We had a fancy dress competition in our hospital today, I was the Laughing Buddha. Lets go home now, I'm very tired".

We reached home at around 5 am and decided to take a quick nap.

This time when I woke up at 7.53, yes it was a conditional action but this time I heard the hissing sound and the song ofcourse. It was double its original audibility, the floor was 2 times more wet than it usually used to be. Had to be, as Iris' mother too was present this morning.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda