લાઇક હસમુખ ગાંધી, લાઇક વિનોદ મહેતા

GahndhiMehta

લાઇક હસમુખ ગાંધી, લાઇક વિનોદ મહેતા
સંજય વિ. શાહ

“ચાલો ચાલો, સ્ટેશન જઇને આઉટલૂક મેગેઝિન લઇ આવીએ. ગરમાગરમ ફાફડા જેવું…” ગુજરાતી પત્રકારત્વના મોડર્ન ભીષ્મ પિતામહ હસમુખ ગાંધી આવું બોલતા ત્યારે તેમની આંખોમાં બાળસહજ જિજ્ઞાસા ઝગમગવા માંડતી. નવાઇ લાગતી. જેમને વાચવા લાખો ગુજરાતીઓ તલપાપડ રહે છે, જેમના પર સમરકંદ બુખારા ઓવારી જાય છે એવા મારા (એટલે આપણા) ગાંધીભાઇ શા માટે આ નવા મેગેઝિન માટે દર અઠવાડિયે ઘાંઘા થાય છે? વિનોદ મહેતાની ક્ષમતાથી ત્યારે હું અપરિચિત. ગાંધીભાઇની ક્ષમતાથી અભિભૂત. 1984ની 14 જાન્યુઆરીએ (આપણે બાપડા ત્યારે જસ્ટ સવાઅગિયાર વરસના!) સમકાલીન લોન્ચ થયું, 80 પૈસામાં. દૂરદર્શન પર એની શોર્ટ એન્ડ સ્વીટ જાહેરાત ઝબૂકતી. વાચવાનો વા એ ઉંમરે જ એવો ભરાયો હતો પંડમાં કે નક્કી કરી નાખ્યું, “આ નવું છાપું વાચવું પડશે. જે ગુજરાતી છાપાની ટીવી પર એડવર્ટાઇઝ આવે એ જેવુંતેવું છાપું હોઇ જ શકે નહીં.” ખરેખર, ટીવીમાં જાહેરાત એટલે એ જમાનામાં મોટી વાત. ગુજરાતી તરીકે એવી છાતી ફુલાય પેલી એડવર્ટાઇઝ જોઇને. ત્યારે ખબર નહોતી કે એક જાહેરાત આપણને લાઇફટાઇમ માટે ગાંધીભાઇના પ્રેમમાં પાડી દેશે, શેર બજારની જંજાળ છોડાવીને પત્રકાર બનાવી દેશે. થેન્ક યુ, ગાંધીભાઇ!
સમકાલીન માટે મેં પોતે જેવી જિજ્ઞાસા મારામાં જોઇ હતી તેવી આઉટલૂક માટે ગાંધીભાઇમાં મેં જોઇ હતી. અભિયાન ગ્રુપના ઇવનિંગર સમાંતર પ્રવાહમાં તાજા જોડાયેલા પત્રકાર તરીકેના એ દિવસો હતો. હસમુખ ગાંધી અને મારે ત્યાં જ એવો સંબંધ થયો જેને કદાચ ગુરુ-શિષ્ય કે બાપ-દીકરાનો સંબંધ કહું તો પણ એ સંબોધનનો પનો ટૂંકો જ પડે લાગણીઓ સમજાવવા. એ જો કે પસર્નલ વાત થઇ. ગાંધીભાઇ અને હું, દસ રૂપરડીનું આઉટલૂક ખરીદવા નીકળી પડતા, મોડી સાંજે. મેગેઝિનની પ્રાઇસ કરતાં વધારે ખર્ચ રિક્શાનો બેસતો. વળી ગાંધીભાઇને એકલા જવા દેવાય નહીં. નબળી દ્રષ્ટિને લીધે ક્યાંક પડ્યા-આખડ્યા તો… અને પોતે જઇને તેમના માટે મેગેઝિન લાવી શકાય નહીં. ગોવર્ધન-સાઇઝ દેવામાં ડૂબ્યો હું… દસ રૂપરડી કાઢવાને સમર્થ નહોતો. એટલે સવારી નીકળી પડતી, હિંદુસ્તાન નાકાથી કાંદિવલી સ્ટેશન, “ચાલો ચાલો, આઉટલૂક લઇ આવીએ!”
ભલે દર અઠવાડિયે અભિયાનનો બાંધેલો છાપાવાળો તો આઉટલૂકની બે-ત્રણ કોપી આપી જ જવાનો હોય. સો વ્હોટ? આઉટલૂક વાચવા માટે એની વેઇટ કરવી કેમ પરવડે? આ હતો ગાંધીભાઇનો એટિટ્યુડ, સ્પષ્ટ મત. મનમાં થતું, “ઇન્ડિયા ટુડેથી વિશેષ વળી શું નીકળવાનું આ આઉટલૂકમાં?” દર અઠવાડિયે ગાંધીભાઇ સાથે આઉટલૂક લાવ્યા પછી, અને ગણતીરીની મિનિટોમાં ગાંધીભાઇ આખું મેગેઝિન ઘોળીને પી (મીન્સ વાચી) જાય પછી, એ મેગેઝિન મારું થઇ જતું. ગાંધીભાઇની ટિપ્સ સાથે, “આ આર્ટિકલ વાચજો, તગડો છે. આજે તો વિનોદ મહેતાની ડાયરી છે… ડબલ પૈસા વસૂલ થઇ ગયા!”
આઉટલૂક અને વિનોદ મહેતા ત્યારથી કાયમ માટે (ના, તેમણે પ્રવૃત્તપણે મેગેઝિનનો અખત્યાર મૂક્યો ત્યાં સુધી) અતૂટ નાતો બંધાઇ ગયો. ભલે એની કોંગ્રેસતરફી કે કહેવાતી ધર્મ નિરપેક્ષતા તરફી, એન્ટી બીજેપી કે હિંદુવાદ વિરોધી પોલિસી સામે સખ્ખત વાંધો હોય, તો પણ. નેવુંના દાયકાના મધ્યભાગમાં, ઇન્ડિયન એક્સેપ્રેસ (અને શિશુ અવસ્થામાં આકાર પટેલના ફાયર બ્રાન્ડ જર્નલિઝમમાં એ પછીની ચોગ્ગા-છક્કા ફટકારનાર એશિયન એજની મુંબઇ એડિશન) સિવાય ઇંગ્લિશ જર્નલિઝમ બહુધા નિસ્તેજ, બૂઠ્ઠું અને તડાકા વગરનું હતું. ઇંગ્લિશ જર્નલિઝમનાં ઓશિયાળાં (કાપલી કરો, ટ્રાન્સલેટ કરો, છાપી નાખો) બિન-અંગ્રેજી છાપાં તો તેમના કરતાંય ટાઢાબોળ પડેલાં. એવામાં વિનોદ મહેતાએ ડંકો વગાડ્યો. એક એકથી ચડિયાતી ઇન્વેસ્ટિગેટિવ સ્ટોરીઝ, અથવા રૂટિન સ્ટોરી માટે અ-રૂટિન દ્રષ્ટિકોણ સાથે આઉટલૂકે ઇન્ડિયા ટુડેને પહેલા અંકથી પરસેવો છોડાવવા માંડ્યો. વિનોદ મહેતાને વાચતાં, આઉટલૂકમાં ઓળઘોળ થતાં, જર્નલિઝમનાં ઘણાં વણદીઠાં પાસાં મારી સામે ઉજાગર થવાં માંડ્યાં. એમાં વળી ઓલરેડી વાચેલી આઉટલૂકની કોઇક સ્ટોરી પર ગાંધીભાઇનો એકસ્ટેન્ડેડ વ્યુ. સોને પે સુહાગાને આટલી હદે સાર્થક થતા મેં બહુ ઓછી વાર અનુભવ્યું છે.
શરૂઆતમાં થતું, “વિનોદ મહેતા પણ ગુજરાતી, ગાંધીભાઇ પણ ગુજરાતી. વાહ!” પછી પણ વાહ તો અકબંધ જ રહ્યું, ભલે આ મહેતા આપણા ગુજરાતી નહોતા. જર્નલિઝમ કેવું હોવું જોઇએ એનો આયનો તો આઉટલૂક પહેલેથી જ બન્યો, સાથે જર્નલિસ્ટ કેવી રીતે ઘડવા જોઇએ એનો પરચો પણ આઉટલૂકે આપ્યો. ડિટ્ટો જેમ ગાંધીભાઇની એડિટરશિપમાં સમકાલીને જર્નલિસ્ટથી માંડીને પ્રૂફરીડર્સની ફોજ સર્જી, તેમ. ઇન ફેક્ટ, ગુજરાતી પત્રકારત્વ આજે પણ ગાંધીભાઇએ તૈયાર કરેલા પત્રકારોની ફોજ પર જ સૌથી વધુ અવલંબિત છે. વિનોદ મહેતાની એડિટરશિપમાં આઉટલૂકે પણ ઢગલો પત્રકારોને થિન્કિંગ પ્રોસેસરનું પરફેક્શન આપ્યું, ઇન્વેસ્ટિગેશન કરવાની ધાર આપી.
2012 સુધી મહેતાએ આઉટલૂકને પેટના જણ્યાની જેમ ઉછેર્યું અને અવ્વલ બનાવ્યું. ઇન્ડિયા ટુડે સાથે બીજાં ઘણાં ઇંગ્લિશ (અને પછી બિન-ઇંગ્લિશ) મેગેઝિન્સે આઉટલૂકના જર્નલિઝમ સાથે તેના પેકેજિંગ, માર્કેટિંગ, સબસ્ક્રિપ્શન સ્કીમથી માંડીને કેટકેટલી ચીજોની નકલ કરવી પડી. છૂટકો જ નહોતો. કોઇ સર્વે ભલે નથી થયો છતાં એવું અનુમાન ચોક્કસ લગાડી શકાય કે આઉટલૂકે લાખો યુવાઓને વાચક બનાવ્યા. ટેવિવિઝનની દાદાગીરીના યુગમાં પ્રિન્ટ મીડિયાને જેવા મેગેઝિનની જરૂર હતી એવું એ બન્યું. છતાં, ગાંધીભાઇની જેમ વિનોદ મહેતા મોટેભાગે લૉ પ્રોફાઇલ જ રહ્યા. મેગેઝિનની સીધી જવાબદારીથી હળવાશ મેળવ્યા પછી ભલે બકવાસ ન્યુઝ ચેનલ્સની થાકેલી ચર્ચાઓમાં એ ભાગ લેતા થયા, એ વાતે અપવાદ જ ગણાય. સાચે તો તેમણે એવી રાતે લાઇમલાઇટમાં આવવાની જરૂર નહોતી, એવો મારો અંગત મત છે.
તડાફડીવાળું પત્રકારત્વ ઘણા કરી શકે પણ લાંબા સમય સુધી, સાતત્ય સાથે નહીં. ગાંધીભાઇની જેમ જ વિનોદ મહેતા આ મામલે અપવાદ રહ્યા. હવે તેઓ નથી રહ્યા. શરીરે વિદાય લીધી છે પણ લખનઊ બોયનાં લખાણ, તેમનું વિઝન આપણી સાથે છે. વાચકો માટે આળઘોળ થવા અને પત્રકારો માટે એન્લાઇટન થવા. જે રીતે ગાંધીભાઇનાં લખાણ (હાથે લખેલાં અને છપાયેલાં, બેઉ) આજીવન સાચવવાનો ઉમળકો કાયમ રહ્યો છે, તે રીતે વિનોદ મહેતાનાં આઉટલૂકનાં લખાણ, ખાસ તો ડાયરી પેજીસ, સાચવવાનો મોહ મનમાં કાયમ રહ્યો છે. ગાંધીભાઇની એક્ઝિટથી ગુજરાતી પત્રકારત્વમાં ત્રીજું (અને અત્યાર સુધીનું) છેલ્લું સુવર્ણ પ્રકરણ પૂરું થયું હતું. આપણા પત્રકારત્વ કરતાં ક્યાંય વિસ્તૃત ઇંગ્લિશ જર્નલિઝમમાં વિનોદ મહેતા પછી આવો અવકાશ ના સર્જાય તેવી આશા સેવીએ. ગુડ બાય, વિનોદ મહેતા!

PK MOVIE REVIEW

It’s only when we watch a Rajkumar Hirani film that we smile, laugh, cry, feel touched and even get enlightened… all at once! As a critic, I must confess, I have long lost this truly human interest in films, rather Hindi films, because I don’t know how many craps in life. But watching a Rajkumar Hirani film recharges me, reinforce faith in our cinema. Hats off to Hirani, and I bet that every Indian would love watching his PK once, and twice and thrice… why?
I am surely not going to discuss story here. For, watching it knowning its core theme is what everyone is excited to know today, but as a movie buff, I recommend you to watch it instead of reading about its story. PK is not a film. It’s a celebration of true cinema. A man called PK… oh, how intelligently he gets christened so, and Jagat Janani aka Jaggu, and the rest of important characters, are so imaginatively woven with the film’s duration of 153 minutes! From Belgium to a small village called Mandava in Rajasthan to New Delhi, the films excellent craft takes into its lap so carefully, so lovingly and so affectionately!
And what an outstanding style Hirani’s is that, like all his previous films, every frame, colour, progression and object become a character instead of mere props! Like we all had experienced earlier with Munnabhai films and 3 Idiots, PK too sways us fully in totallity. Its music too proves a very integral part of the entire narrative, though one must say that a couple of songs could have certainlly be avoided. Barring such a few downs, PK is a gem of cinematic experience. The song, Bhagwan Hai Kahan Re Tu, will surely moist every viewer’s eyes!
And what to say about Aamir Khan? No other actor of this entire nation could have done justice to PK the way Aamir Khan has done. Anushka Sharma is also so good that she is remains Jaggu throughout and never lets a watcher feel she is Anushka.
The first half, if one tries to compare the two acts, is superior while in the second half, the most fascinating stuff comes as the film moves towards the climax.
There are so many things I really wish to write here, especially because they are really worth talking about, but I don’t want to spoil anyone’s joy excitement before watching the film. My simple suggestion is: go, watch it at the earliest and you’d certainly swear to watch it again.
Now, coming to that so-called critic-wallah duty… how many stars?
For me, the film deserves more than five stars. Why not? Is so many stupid, glossy films, made by certain banners and makers and so becomes eligible for undue four and a half or full five stars, while they really don’t deserve so such accolades, PK is far ahead of them in each and every department. Most importantly, it made me smile, laugh, cry, feel for my loved ones and also touched me many times when I offered it my precious 153 minutes!
Rajkumar Hirani’s PK deserves as high appreciation, if not more, as James Cameron’s Avatar!
Love you, sir, you are the right number of my dearest Bollywood!

THE INDIAN SYSTEM: SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVISATION

So, in my earlier article on how it goes when you apply online for learner’s licence in Mumbai, I gave a detailed account of what one can expect of. Here, in brief, come pointers which I feel needs to be known. Your feedback is always welcome, if at all you have time left in life besides sharing selfies through Instagram and liking stuff on FB.

THE GLARING GLITCHES

  • With technology explosion, India has created online mechanism to deal with several citizen services. Fine. Visit site, find what you want to find and apply. But don’t be joyous. Our system is intended but not yet perfected to solve all problems. Be prepared for chaos and complete neglect of online registration. Passport office, Regional Transport Office or any other administrative services office, online registrants must be readied to be treated just like walk-in wanderers. If you get systematic treatment, respect and quick service, feel lucky.
  • Officials do work very very hard in all these offices but then, they are Indians too. We all get grilled by similar bad things in day-to-day life so we have similar tendencies, frustrations and attitude (when dealing with others). So, those who serve us there are similar to us. transparency is reducing corruption for sure. However, favoritism and toutism stay, at many offices if not in all of them. Those who opt for it enjoy quicker, back-door and informed assistance. Those who avoid are served but, “System ke hissab se.” Maybe, part honesty and part corruption is new mantra of life.
  • And officials alone are not at fault. When they deal with sea of people, don’t get perks, promotions, appreciations or even future, they tend to progress their way, and to find peace their way.
a booth with buzzer at learner's licence exam in Mumbai

a booth with buzzer at learner’s licence exam in Mumbai

  • Those who create online, computerized systems need to experience how it actually work, the end result. They will surely find obvious snags need to be fixed. Lesser appointments, commitments of deliverables, more of manpower and extended service hours in cities like Mumbai are few must-do solutions.
  • For documents and their verification, the best system is that implemented for PAN card related service. No physical verification yet effective, near-faultless. Other offices would be encouraged to get inspirations from it.   
  • The best solution can be creating National Documents Depository Services sort of division. Any Indian, by paying charge, following-norms can duly get attested, approved, certified (notarized, certified, blahblahblah) and deposited all his / her important (officially, financially, personally,emotionally, etc.) documents, get them colour-scanned by designated banks,  advocates, Cas, CSs and so on and submitted to official service provider (can be bank, CA, advocate firm, etc.). Get NDDS account and exclusive number and that’s it. Like you sign-in with Google, Facebook, Twitter to hundreds of sites and services, without filling-in information over and over again, provide NDDS account. No paper-work, no need to carry original documents, or run from pillar to post for attestation, affidavit, photocopy, etc. Lost file, got documents damaged? Don’t’t worry, NDDS can provide a true-copy. Charge for this. Charge more if you please but have NDDS.
  • A basic document like learner’s driving licence can be certainly issued online with little extra planning and execution. If super important exams can be conducted online, if Aaadhaar card can be issued online, why can’t learner’s driving licence?
  • Lunch time… should not be visitor’s crunch time. Charge few bucks for (Rs. 30 ka learner’s driving licence becomes Rs. 40) better management, employ additional staff, extend working hours from 6.00 am to 10 pm at least in metros, but for god sake, don’t make it crunch time. In fact, metros need a system that works at least 16 hours a day instead of 6-8 hours. Also, “System down hai, slow chal raha hai, hamaare haath mein jaadu nahin hai,” sort of excuse will have no place in improved system.
  • If a police station can have chowkeys under its jurisdiction, they offices like RTA, municipalities too need to have such smaller branches to serve citizens. Why a person living in Dahisar has to go to Andheri for just a licence?!
  • Why last-minute cancellation, alteration in working hours (“Tomorrow, traffic staff is deployed on minister saab’s hospitality, tomorrow we have morcha of state employees union, so all appointments stand cancelled”) are not duly and well-in-time informed to appointees? Sticking announcement about it in RTA office, or flashing it on website is not enough. Media, messaging and automated calling system exist in this country now, please.
  • Last but not the least, most offices need to have separate provision for women, children, senior citizens andphysically disabled citizens. Though awareness is spreading on this front, we are yet to see well set mechanism. Lad’s first, and fast, please!

(Written on 20 September 2014 by Sanjay V Shah)

LIVING IS AN ART OF NOT LEAVING ANY MOMENT UNUSED!

People often tend to commit the same mistake they had committed in the past and repent just like they repented in the past

People often tend to commit the same mistake they had committed in the past and repent just like they repented in the past

It was a busy day and he was sitting in his office. He knew that each minute would be counted today. There were so many deliverables and such a less time in hand. Before moving further, let me tell you that he was stupidly workaholic. Whether he worked for money or to achieve something or to make his family happy or just because it’s an awful, rigid habit, he didn’t know. So, coming back to the point, it was very essential that he must plan a day and then execute works one after the other. Now, the problem started there itself.
Plan. Design. Decide. Then shoot.
The moment he sat to plan things, he forgot the basic fact altogether that planning was a part of the game, not the game. A plan should be a medium that eventually helps accomplishing goal, not a villain that eats time and puts you in dock. But then, “I need to plan things like many intellectuals do. I have to prove that I follow system. I am sure it will save a lot of time,” kind of hopes danced in his heart. By the time he realised that immediate action was more important than lengthy planning, it was already lunch time. Thank God, he is not in the army!
A simple bullet point of things to do, or a paste-it on whiteboard or a sticky note on computer screen is, many times, is a lot more effective plan then anything else. When the question arises of, “Where to start”, the answer is simple with three options: A) The easiest task, B) the most difficult task or C) just any task. In either case, things will certainly start moving. How? The easiest task when done first boosts confidence, the most difficult task, when done first, toughens you for rest of the day and just about any task saves time and shortens the list of to-do by one task. Sounds simple, huh?
It’s not that easy, though it may look so. People often tend to commit the same mistake they had committed in the past and repent just like they had repented in the past. Examples? Here are a few: Instead of checking emails, answering them, managing important files and gathering used paper from desk, they start Facebook, or check others’ tweets; or play a game or make calls or start texting or discussing unwanted things in the name of exchanging ideas with others.
World maybe fool but the clock is not. Clock is the killer, the punisher, the dictator that shows no mercy. Try to deceive it and your tryst with good fortune is bound to go for a toss.
Save your time for stupendous things instead of wasting on wasting on sundry things. Tooth-brushing in morning (better if done after every meal and in night as well) a day takes hardly five minutes but saves your teeth for life. A good bath of just few minutes cleanses body to celebrate an entire day. Why minutes, a couple of extra seconds of green light at a busy signal can cut travel time by several minutes. But most people, 95 per cent I would say, often commit same, usual mistakes, then repent them for a while and forget them conveniently.
Living is an art of not leaving any moment unused!
Feeling like an under-achiever is instilled inside when moments, then minutes and hours and days and weeks and in the process, several years of life, are wasted meaningless. While it is not important for others whether you achieved something or not, it is very essential for you to realise it. The sooner, the better!
(image courtesy: www.pixabay.com)

GET LERNER’S DRIVING LICENCE IN MUMBAI, WITH PAIN

I neither had money nor wish to drive a vehicle. The latter I would certainly avoid for life. Yet, as you grow, both with age, ever fragile social place and also, discover few practical benefits of having own vehicle, you feel like both, keep on at your doorstep and driving when in need.
So, I started pondering over buying a vehicle. Which made? What budget? When? I am clueless. I will find answers, probably sooner. And with this need came another need: of getting hold of document called driving licence. Lakhs of people have it in Mumbai and so, getting it should not be an issue. I applied online, well in advance, secured appointment: Friday, 19 September 2014, Andheri RTA office, at 1.30 pm. Really good facility for beginner.
But then, I had to face real action when physically facing the RTA. On the given day and date and time, I was there. Because I am no more a man who’d skip dates. I have improved and I am improving because in the one way called life, that’s the only tool to feel happier after every success, and failure.
1.30, sharp. I was behind some 20 applicants in a serpentine queue. The action was happening few feet away, inside a place that from window looked like a large hall. Few touts were easily recognizable thanks to their walk, talk and eyes. They were constantly coming to some applicants standing in queue, murmuring something to them or collecting documents from them, going to window of the hall, then on backside having more windows. And they were surely ‘helping’ their students (Ah, so they were influential motor training schoolwallas who were making sure quick freedom for their students from the process) to break the line and get trainer’s licence with minimum efforts and at little extra cost.
I am yet to join motor training school because how can I do so without having a valid trainer’s licence? How can put someone’s as well as my life in danger? I was busy ensuring having all required documents in order (I had a terrible experience of wasting whole day and peace at the Malad, Mumbai’s passport office but we’d probably discuss it some other time) so that, after seeing it, an officer at duty approve my application and I finish with my agenda in single visit.
2.00 pm. No sign of the Great Door leading me to my learner licence showing sign of opening.

Getting learner's driving licence is made easier but not pain free in Mumbai

Getting learner’s driving licence is made easier but not pain free in Mumbai

“It’s going to be their lunch time any moment…” some seasoned mouth uttered, “We need to wait more…” More?! Just to have made an entry in the hall from where the real journey towards licence would begin?! No no, they must be having reliever so that show can go on and waiting applicants do not waste time…
2.30 pm. And all three seats were empty inside the hall. They had disappeared. All three! No trace of reliever. No trace of announcement, apology. No provision for drinking water nearby. No adequate sitting arrangements. No adequate fans. It was lunch time.
Being Indians also mean you’d be left clueless anytime, in any administrative office.
Hunger, thirst, tiring feet and frustration (which I luckily control to a great extent thanks to Vipassana) of wasting such important hours of work… all were vultures hovering over my mind.
“But then who forced you to get driving licence? Don’t seek it without pain…”
3.15 pm. Finally, the Great Door opened and I along with around 50 other enthusiasts huddled the hall we were dying to see since so long. It was a reasonably large, well-lit hall with ample sitting arrangement, if undue rush and chaos avoided. The three khaki-clad judges were also not bad, though they sounded stern so that discipline be maintained. And they were quick as well. The only glitch, again made in India, was intruders, with vashila (extra weightage) here getting their things quietly done when powerless souls like me remained spectators.
In some 40 minutes flat, the officials got rid of all of us. Many of us, cleared for the next round little earlier, sent inside in another hall, a cashier section, to swamp it to pay requisite fees to get licence. Rs. 30 for each licence, as you please, from two-wheeler, light motor vehicle, heavy vehicles. I opted for the first two of lot. Official fee, Rs. 30, asking fee, Rs, 31 and receipt of Rs. Rs. 49.86 for two. Logic? Wish I had asked. There was only one lady issuing receipts to one and all. As upcoming Navratri was in my mind, I felt as if Maa Durga has herself landed in RTA to serve all his children, within the hall and seeking ‘blessings’ from outside by offering documents. She also answered my prayer and a good 35-40 minutes later, I finally smiled, why?
The next table had no queue. There were 3 (or 4, think) young women serving swiftly and impressing one and all. There work was to feed data (name, address, date of birth, etc.) in system and it should take time but then, it was done in a blink of an eye. Wow! An officer sitting in the same section was hurriedly writing something on each applicant’s documents as the women directed him or her towards him. That was a seat number for exam, we were to discover later.
Soon, we were sent to another hall, a waiting lounge sort of place. Again, good ambience, enough chairs. A large board displayed various traffic and driving related signs. They were going to be questions of today’s exam, someone had told outside.
And the exams. In another hall. Peaceful. We were given instructions as we listened attentively sitting on respective seat showing our number.
“The screen you see on this wall will flash questions. You have a buzzer in front of you. Each question will have three options to choose from and the buzzer has three buttons coloured green, yellow and orange. Once you read (Marathi and English) and listen to it, you have to press the button of your choice, after countdown begins and within its 10 seconds. The correct answered will be highlighted with pink colour after countdown is over. Those who’d score 60%, means answer at least 12 correct answer out of 20, will be considered passed and get there learner’s licence here itself, in few minutes.”
The exam went on smoothly in pin-drop-silence. I scored 15 and inadvertently pressed wrong button in one. 16 was not a bad score at all. The joy of I did it made me smile. And the announcement, “Please go to the earlier hall and your learner’s licence will be handed over to you there.” We all went there as another batch of aspirants already brought inside and kept staring at us as if finally, their rightful seats were getting vacated.
The last wait proved more than anticipated and was the most frustrating. Firstly, due to hunger, secondly, wish to get back to routine started growing and thirdly, a desire to hold today’s prized earning was growing. The laminated lotteries finally came in a bunch held by a young RTA employee. I got two of them. With my documents (“You will have to come back after a month, with this, for driving test to get pakka or permanent licence”) still in my hand.
5.30 pm. I was out of RTA with freedom to learn driving and then, have vehicle for my convenience and to contribute in polluting air in my capacity. I really don’t know what purpose it solved to have an online, prior appointment for learner’s licence? Why I was shown a carrot of timely execution of the process? Why I had to wait in long queue to pay Rs. 30 when I could have paid it online and saved time. Why I got receipt of Rs. 49.86 instead of Rs. 62?
I freed my mind of all such questions by consoling it saying, “Forget it. The officials and staff were cooperative. You got licence in one attempt. Remember you were sent back empty-handed by Malad passport office after spending more hours standing. And so far as question of that un-recipted amount of Rs. 12.14 is concerned, consider your vehicle would be that much pricey when you buy it! Vroom…”
And before I drive a vehicle in future, I will discuss few interesting stuff here soon.
(Written on 20 September 2014 by Sanjay V Shah)

સંજય વિ. શાહ (Pen Name: કલ્પના જોશી)

સંજય વિ. શાહ (Pen Name: કલ્પના જોશી)
ભારતમાં ભિક્ષુકોની તંગી નથી. હાલમાં ચાલતાં આપણને ભિક્ષુકો ભટકાય છે. મુંબઇમાં લોકલ ટ્રેનમાં, ટ્રાફિક સિગ્નલ પર, પિકનિક સ્પોટ પર ભિક્ષુકોનો સામનો કરવો એ રોજિંદી ઘટના છે. “બે હાથ ને બે પગ સાજા હોવા છતાં ભીખ માગતા શરમ નથી આવતી ’’ એવું કે “ભીખ આપીને કોઈની આદત મારે બગાડવી નથી’’ એવું વિચારીને ઘણા જણ તિરસ્કારની ભાવનાથી ભિક્ષુકોને ઉતારી પાડે છે.
સુશિક્ષણ પામ્યાની સમજ શહેરજનો પર સવાર છે એની આ અસર છે. આવા જ એક સુશિક્ષિત સ્વામી વિવેકાનંદને એકવાર કહ્યું કે સાજાસમા માણસને ભીખ મારે શા માટે આપવી, કેમ કે વગર મહેનતની કમાણીમાંથી ભિક્ષુકો ચરસગાંજા ખરીદીને પોતાનાં જીવન બદરબાદ કરે છે.
વિવેકાનંદે જવાબ આપ્યો, “તમારું કામ જરૂરિયાતમંદને મદદ કરવાનું છે… નગણ્ય જેવી મદદ કરવામાં આટલા ઊંડા વિચારો કરીને શક્તિ વેડફવા કરતાં એ શક્તિને વધુ સારા કાર્યમાં વાપરવી જોઇએ… અને પેલો ભિક્ષુક થોડોક ચરસગાંજો લઇને રસ્તાને ખૂણે પડયોપાથર્યો રહે છે એ પણ અનુચિત નથી… સીધી રીતે નાની નાની મદદ મળે છે એટલે જ આ લોકો મોટાં પાપ આચરતા નથી… પોતાનાં વ્યસનને ચલાવવા આ લાકો માગ્યાથી ન મળે તો ચોરી અને ઉત્પાત કરતા થઇ જશે… સરવાળે સમાજ આખો મુશ્કેલીમાં મુકાશે. ’’
આ વાત ઊંડો વિચાર માગી લે એવી છે. તમનેય એવું લાગે છે ખરું.

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