Back to school for civic sense


The other day my son's van did not turn up.  We waited 15 minutes then I went back home to pick my keys and call school; we found the vans were all going to be 30 min late; I went back to the van stop to pick him when another mother drove up with the other kid going by the same van.   She had me confirm school is open, just van is late and drove off. She didn't offer to carpool! I probably wouldn't have accepted, because Gau loves being dropped;  I couldn't have offered a ride because we were traveling by a 2 wheeler.  Still.  She should have offered.  Our kids go to the same school! Different classes but same school.

I came back home and overheard my downstairs neighbour haranguing the watchman.  We had been having terrible power fluctuations since the thunderstorm two nights ago.  SHe was asking the watchman to go around checking who had recently acquired a hot iron or a microwave, ask them to keep it off because it was most likely the reason for the fluctuations!

First of all, if an appliance rated to work in a house is causing problems, then you need to check the wiring of the building, not demand the appliance be kept off.  Secondly, what is the point in asking the watchman?  You find out from your neighbours and figure out the exact problem before fixing it.

I did not intervene though, we were only on nodding terms.

It got me thinking about what isolated lives we lead.  I am on good terms with the people who live opposite to our apartment, talk a bit to two other flats.  The remaining 6 apartments are a mystery to me.  I am probably on better terms with the vendor down the road, or the Keerai vendor half a km away.  I am definitely on friendly terms with my maid and my nanny.  So this isolation seems to be limited to people like me, middle class, leading so called busy lives, working 9 - 5 jobs, ferrying kids from 1 activity to another and fulfilling our need for companionship with office colleagues and relatives who live far away.  We seem to insulate ourselves from our immediate surroundings, we tend to avoid giving or taking help from those around us. 

I do know people in this area, those I meet when I take my kids to the park near by or shopping.  But I don't know my own building or my neighbouring buildings.  I resolved to work on two separate initiatives.  One is two try and help, in any way I can, someone around me everyday.  Like we used to when we were girl scouts.  The other is using social network to form neighbourhood groups.

Along a similar vein, I agree arresting Asseem Trivedi is ludicrous.  We have the fundamental right to comment upon the polity in any way we choose.  But, changing the national emblem to wolves and "corruption wins", even in  a cartoon, is at once spiteful and hopeless.  Who is he raging against?  The entire country or the corrupt not-so-few?  If you don't hold the country to be worth saving, a place where the dreams of the good and the just could still survive, what is the anti-corruption movement doing?  Is is time to commit mass suicide then?  Reduce the burden on this Earth by an immediate billion!  There is a reason the national symbols are (flag, anthem, emblem and song) are exemplar;  They represent the best we can be, what we must strive towards.

This spitting on cherished symbols is part of what makes us cynical and unfriendly towards anyone we don't really need, like neighbours :)
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