Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Hijra Vardan and the Blogger

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Hijda Vardan means gift , God has been extremely kind in gifting me the presence of a Hijra on the soul of my Blog.

I may not meet them for months and than all of a sudden they appear from nowhere...they are nameless without hope and these are the poor beggar hijras of Mumbai , an ethnicity that implores to be understood with compassion and rationally.

But Mumbai is ambivalent to anything and everything, we join hands only when we are hit below the belt by calamity, other wise issues that concern all of us have no meaning I thank the Mete Jam people I came to shoot the influence of their campaign at Bandra Station , instead I shot the Dabbawallas and this lone Hijra vying for attention on the poetry and drama of Mumbai life.

There is some connection between the hijra androgynous angst and me as a photographer , I tell their stories through pictures and without any ulterior motive or commercial are sure to find me if you Google search for the Hijras or the Hijdas , you cannot escape one of my website links.

But of late I only post all my hijra blogs at Flickr , I stopped posting at my Word Press blogs because of people using my pictures without my permission or giving me a courtesy line.

They use my pictures as thumbnails for their fake identities on Flickr and Facebook too.. and I hate this why the fuck you cant be what you are and guys posting actors pictures as their own.. makes me puke all over my new black tee,
So this hijra at Bandra Station rushed to me when I called her and took a break from shooting the dabbawallas of Amchi Mumbai.

The Dabbawalla Dude

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He is the quintessential new generation Dabbawalla young, versatile carrying the heritage of prompt service as his mantra of survival.

I asked him a few questions and without any journalistic pretensions , I am a street photo blogger , free service to society even Google does not pay us but yes it pimps our angst our words and our images ..

Well let me get off the beaten track I asked him who was his favorite actor ..he replied without beating around the bush..Only Salman Khan.I asked him Why he answered Bole To Sallu Bhai Insan Hai Jat Pat ka tension Nahi, Khan Hai Musalman Hai but Insaan hai..
And he added before I could pose my next question ,..Lal Bagh Cha Raja bhi unko bahut chahta hai.

I asked him his favorite film .. he said Wanted second best film he said Veer and third best film he said Dabbang ..I told him it was yet to release ,, he said Promo main paisa Usul ho jata hai.

So this is the human side of a Dabbawalla , his zest for life and nobody can take this away from him..

And the dabbawalla makes us proud and I wish he was educated some more , was given computer tutorials , and I leave it at that I wont Jam His Meter ..

I was enjoying shooting them and they are the original Marathi Manoos they dont crib , go on strike for better wages like the cabbies and the rickshawallas and the municipal staff.

And thanks to them tiffin from Aie mother , or baiko wife reaches the concerned person on time bhat curry and achar...and he shares the aroma the food with his co workers too.. and of course they all wait for Abduls tiffin as his mom makes the most mouth watering Chicken Biryani and sheer korma too..this is the spirit of our unity our Jagriti kept alive by the Mumbai Dabbawalla .

I salute you Dabbawalla Bhai..

The Dabbawallas Sigma 6

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I shot well over 100 pictures of the Dabbawallas while I was at the Bandra Station , I had come to shoot the Meter Jam effect on the people travelers , there wasn't any , so I shot the Dabbawallas instead.

And I have just opened my first Ramzan fast of the day, as the uploading of my pictures continues at Flickr.

The Dabbawallas of Amchi Mumbai


A dabbawala (Marathi: डबेवाला, Hindi: डब्बावाला), also spelled as dabbawalla or dabbawallah, literally meaning person with a box, is a person in the Indian city of Mumbai who is employed in a unique service industry whose primary business is collecting the freshly cooked food in lunch boxes from the residences of the office workers (mostly in the suburbs), delivering it to their respective workplaces and returning back the empty boxes by using various modes of transport. "Tiffin" is an old-fashioned English word for a light lunch or afternoon snack, and sometimes for the box it is carried in. For this reason, the dabbawalas are sometimes called Tiffin Wallahs.

The word "Dabbawala" in Marathi when literally translated, means "one who carries a box". "Dabba" means a box (usually a cylindrical tin or aluminium container), while "wala" is a suffix, denoting a doer or holder of the preceding word [1]. The closest meaning of the Dabbawala in English would be the "lunch box delivery man". Though this profession seems to be simple, it is actually a highly specialized service in Mumbai which is over a century old and has become integral to the cultural life of this city.

The concept of the dabbawala originated when India was under British rule. Many British people who came to the colony did not like the local food, so a service was set up to bring lunch to these people in their workplace straight from their home. Nowadays, although Indian business men are the main customers for the dabbawalas, increasingly affluent families employ them instead for lunch delivery to their school-aged children. Even though the services provided might include cooking, it primarily consists of only delivery either home-made or in that latter case, food ordered from a restaurant.

At 19,373 persons per km², Mumbai is India's most densely populated city with a huge flow of traffic. Because of this, lengthy commutes to workplaces are common, with many workers traveling by train.

Instead of going home for lunch or paying for a meal in a café, many office workers have a cooked meal sent either from their home, or sometimes from a caterer who delivers it to them as well, essentially cooking and delivering the meal in lunch boxes and then having the lunch boxes collected and re-sent the next day. This is usually done for a monthly fee. The meal is cooked in the morning and sent in lunch boxes carried by dabbawalas, who have a complex association and hierarchy across the city.
A collecting Dabbawala on a bicycle

A collecting dabbawala, usually on bicycle, collects dabbas from homes or from the dabba makers. The dabbas have some sort of distinguishing mark on them, such as a color or symbol. The dabbawala then takes them to a designated sorting place, where he and other collecting dabbawalas sort (and sometimes bundle) the lunch boxes into groups. The grouped boxes are put in the coaches of trains, with markings to identify the destination of the box (usually there is a designated car for the boxes). The markings include the rail station to unload the boxes and the building address where the box has to be delivered.

At each station, boxes are handed over to a local dabbawala, who delivers them. The empty boxes, after lunch, are again collected and sent back to the respective houses.

It has been recognized since 2002 to be one of the most reliable supply chains in the world, after being given a six sigma rating by Forbes Magazine. This is despite the supply chain using no computers or modern technology and most of the delivery staff being illiterate.

his service was originated in 1880. In 1890, Mahadeo Havaji Bachche, started a lunch delivery service with about 100 men.[2] In 1930, he informally attempted to unionize the dabbawallas. Later a charitable trust was registered in 1956 under the name of Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Trust. The commercial arm of this trust was registered in 1968 as Mumbai Tiffin Box Supplier's Association. The present President of the association is Sopan Laxman Mare. Nowadays, the service often includes cooking of foods in addition to the delivery.

Each dabbawala, regardless of role, gets paid about two to four thousand rupees per month (around £25–50 or US$40–80).[3]

In 2002, Forbes Magazine found its reliability to be that of a six sigma standard.[4]

More than 175,000 or 200,000 lunch boxes get moved every day by an estimated 4,500 to 5,000 dabbawalas, all with an extremely small nominal fee and with utmost punctuality. According to a recent survey, they make less than one mistake in every 6 million deliveries.

The BBC has produced a documentary on dabbawalas, and Prince Charles, during his visit to India, visited them (he had to fit in with their schedule, since their timing was too precise to permit any flexibility). Owing to the tremendous publicity, some of the dabbawalas were invited to give guest lectures in top business schools of India, which is very unusual. Most remarkably in the eyes of many Westerners, the success of the dabbawala trade has involved no advanced technology.[5]

The New York Times reported in 2007 that the 125-year-old dabbawala industry continues to grow at a rate of 5–10% per year.[6]

Although the service remains essentially low-tech, with the barefoot delivery men as the prime movers, the dabbawalas have started to embrace technology, and now allow booking for delivery through SMS.[7] An on-line poll on the web site ensures that customer feedback is given pride of place. The success of the system depends on teamwork and time management. Such is the dedication and commitment of the barely literate and barefoot delivery men (there are only a few delivery women) who form links in the extensive delivery chain, that there is no system of documentation at all. A simple colour coding system doubles as an ID system for the destination and recipient. There are no multiple elaborate layers of management either — just three layers. Each dabbawala is also required to contribute a minimum capital in kind, in the form of two bicycles, a wooden crate for the tiffins, white cotton kurta-pyjamas, and the white trademark Gandhi cap (topi). The return on capital is ensured by monthly division of the earnings of each unit.

The service is almost always uninterrupted, even on the days of severe weather such as Mumbai's characteristic monsoons. The local dabbawalas and population know each other well, and often form bonds of trust. Dabbawalas are generally well accustomed to the local areas they cater to, and use shortcuts and other low profile routes to deliver their goods on time. Occasionally, people communicate between home and work by putting messages inside the boxes,however, with the rise of instant communication such as SMS and instant messaging, this trend is vanishing.
[edit] Awards and recognition

* ISO 9001:2000 certified by the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand [8]

Happy Meter Jam Day

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does the public
really care
without demoralizing
a noble cause
the angst of the public
i share
on the somnolent soul
of mumbai just another
meter jam day
by evening will outwear
a brilliant brain
child of an idea
a protest
in every way
but the mubaikar
in terrible hurry
takes a cab
hires a riskshah
moves away
will also bear
the brunt
of the next
hike in the fare
we are totally
we love to be
taken for a ride
by a system
created for us
as we curse and swear
it is the poor
the middle class
who suffer the rich have
fleets of cars to bare
public transport
not part
of their doctrinaire
the paisewalas the
crorerpatis the billionaires
it took three people
to make mr rr patil
get off his chair
he has promised
to the grievances
of the public
he will be fair

A Message of Meter Jam At Bandra

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Today 12 August 2010 was the call given to wake up the soul of a somnolent city called Mumbai again the rude behavior of the cabbies rickshah guys who refuse passengers and dont ply short distances.the continuous demand for fare hike and the dadgairi of their bosses to bring the city to a halt for any flimsy excuse.

Three working people came up with an idea called Meter Jam and decided enough is enough and gave a call for a peaceful protest for 12 Aug called Meter Jam.

The idea their brain child deserves praise and accolades , this is the task of those who run the city who have done nothing but appease the cabbies the ricksha guys and the union leaders for political survival and nothing else.

The public well they can be damned.

On the Internet there was great support as well in the media , and I support them too I wrote a blog on Flickr and Facebook and cross blogged it at Word Press and Blogspot.

I went this morning to shoot the influence of Meter Jam or its out come at grass root level at Bandra Station..and life went on as usual, the general public knew nothing about it even the kids that surf the net were clueless.
These media guys from IBN Lokmat with reporter Vinod Talekar too had come here to read the public's reaction , they took my byte and were quite surprised when I shot them...bloggers to can be newsworthy from time to time.

Vinod gave me Jayesh Rupanis mobile number , Jayesh is one of the whiz kids of this campaign , but he was at work, and told me they were relying on self help, no activists or volunteers..
I felt even a single student with a banner would have salvaged this protest of peace at Bandra at least..
I did not cover other areas so I speak for Bandra only.

However I hung around shot a few frames of people getting into rickshahas and cabs just to show you truth and not to in any way demoralize or belittle their efforts without ulterior motive.

I through this blog salute the young spirit of Mumbai , they tried and they deserve a pat and all praise.

I left the public and instead shot over 50 frames of the Dabbawalas of Bandra Station ,a subject very close to my heart.

But I have one regret and I told their Mukadam Ganpat Bhai Mare , with all their Sigma 6 status , their meeting with Prince Charles and publicity and what not has anything really been done to upgrade their lives or their children s lives.

They are there slogging their ass off and bloggers like me shooting their pictures to internationalize their humility and their pain and hardships.

And it was drizzling but they went about their work, the Dabbawala is the true soul of the resilience the resurgence of a a Marathi Manoos ..he is the eternal spirit of the survival of our city..and Jai Mumbaikar Jai Maharashtra.

The Curse of The Computer On The Soul of My Blog

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she looks at
me with her
i try
towards my computer
my usual sitting place
she barks out
when will
you change your ways
your pictures poems
blogs your prolific pace
why dont you sit
long hours busy
at your work place
so it goes on
every morning
every afternoon
every night
had the digital camera
not been invented
i swear i would have
not discovered the
the internet
in the first place
giving my slides
to vishal bhende
my black white rolls
to mahindar patil
my color rolls
to foto center at fort
no madness
or computer craze
all changed overnight
buzznet blogspot
i embraced
fell in love
wanted to migrate
to alaska
a second wife
in place
till my children
tied me up
beat the shit
called my brains
the rolling pin
as mace
than came flickr
facebook twitter
this bloggers life
phased poems
belched and laced
6 years as blogger
dreams i have chased
a journaler she
called me once
no not my wife
the other goddess
some more love
dreams defaced
the curse of the computer
on the soul of my blog
my blogs my eunuch sorrow
a toxic waste
on my mutti colored ass
with vile comments
they cut copy and paste
pompous pedagogic
pedantic pen pushers
residing in
towers of babble
their wrath on me
on the soul
of my misfortune
totally in poor taste
yes i agree my
poems are gibberish
my pictures are fucked
but its with my angst
my poetic pathos
my anguish
as poison
i have rephrased
barefoot blogger
of mumbai
in the backwaters
of kerala
will definitely
not resurface
we indians
are the biggest racist
hitting our own
for our inconsistencies
our vacuous empty brains
our tragedy our malaise

I dreamt this poem and inspired by my wife and my first fast of Ramzan

Ramzan Mubarak

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I began my first fast of Ramzan a few minutes back, I am a frugal eater a pizza made by wife , some kheer sweet dish, a cup of black tea..before I began eating I took my insulin and diabetes medicine.

And as I began my fast I come to terms with myself my dehydrated fate and the cosmic reality of my existence within a drop of tear.

And I shot this to show you my table within the proximity of a blog..

I have downloaded new street pictures to my comp,I shall upload it later in the day.

And with this my last blog before I hit my head on a boulder of a pillow I wish all of you Ramazan Mubarak.. and a thought for all those buried in the cloud burst all over India Pakistan and China.

May they find immediate relief help and sustenance from God and mankind.

Smoking Out Corruption In High Places

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robbing the nation
cheating the exchequer
the coffers of our country
in the name of politics
good governance
is their only aim
whoever they are
we the people
who voted them
in the first place
are to blame
the buck
does not stop here
calling it the
common wealth
generating game
mother indias
agony and shame
as ii see it
as you see it
she lies
from the corridors
of their conscience
the ex boss
our once upon
a time queen
is upset
but our own
are asleep
chalta hai
our notoriety
to fame
yes we are
a monster
which grows
in girth size
our independence
we could not tame
for those
in high places
gharibi hatao
a slogan
they proclaim
out corruption
in high places
lost illusions
on the soul
of our collective
to reclaim

In a few minute I begin my first fast of Ramzan and I pray as an Indian..for peace prosperity unity and hope harmony for the people of my country.. Ameen

Jab Zindagi Ko Kisi Aur Ki Zindagi Ke Sath Jodne Jate Hain

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I wrote this before beginning my first Ramzan fast as a Facebook note but deleted it I hate Facebook notes it does not serve any purpose specially as a blogger I find Facebook notes over conscientious struggle with words and reality.

I am a picture and text man.

This is for Ash Hussain my daughters best friend.

Jab Zindagi Ko

kisi aur ki

zindagi ke sath jodne

jate hain

toh rote rote

hai kya kya manzar

yad ate hain



ma ka ghar

bachpan ki dehleez

bhul jate hain

jab ham

apne shauhar

ke sath

ek naya ghar basate hain

aur apne naye ghar ki dehleez

ma ke ghar se behter banate hain

I have written thes few lines as the first drops of tears in Ramzan before I begin my fast head bowed in humility to the Almighty..

I dont much like Facebok notes as I am a a point and shoot blogger .

This is for Ash Hussain in reply to her note to me..

Will There Lives Ever Change ?

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forget the mother
for the moment
but will any politician
worth his grain
remove the basket
of vegetables
from the daughters
head crushing her brain
will he give her
a better education
a computer a
good future
in exchange
sorry unlike
their compatriots
in the villages
the urban
women s life
is out of range
will come
political hues
home on
the grange
will the poor
vegetable woman
ever change
her hopes
re arranged
but than
just bashing
any community
not giving your
their rights
the fruits
of their labor
very strange
take their votes
but give them
life of dignity
as a fair

Chand Mubarak

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the rain swept clouds
open up their hearts
a new moon reveal
chand mubarak
ushering in a month
of piety devotion
Allah's omnipresence
on the soul of humanity
we feel a month
of gratitude humility
a month of introspection
a month all humanity heals
a pledge head bowed we seal
give to those who dont have
solemnly it appeals
lay down your arms
let them be only for prayers
dont rob kill pillage or steal
be a part of another
persons sufferings and ordeal
in the silhouette of the hijab
our motherhood our ideal
peace brotherhood
love for humanity
a thought we must
not conceal
we must collectively
fight evil ignorance
through the only jehad
for Muslim unity
to sectarian strife
a death blow
we must deal
on the soul of Islam
another Muslims
blood should
not congeal

my humble personal