Archive for July, 2009


Trees for Free

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Got this in a mail from a friend in Bangalore. Janet and her team is doing a wonderful job. I say that because I saw Bangalore losing around 800 trees in storm in May 2006. That is when thousands of fish died in Puttenhalli lake. All related to mis-management of the environment by us humans. I am sending a cheque.

The problem:

Over the last 4 years, Janet and her volunteers at treesforfree have planted 12,896 trees across Bangalore City to restore the vanishing tree cover. All in an old Maruti car.
Now the car has broken down. And the planting has stopped. But the tree felling continues…and with it, the global warming, failed monsoons, climate change…and a host of other problems that affect all of us.

The solution:
If we can raise enough donations to buy a new vehicle, we would be back on the road again, planting trees, cooling the globe and healing the earth. The vehicle ideally suited for our operations is a Mahindra pickup. It costs 4 lacs. If 4000 of us gave just 100 rupees each, then the planting can start again.

How you can help:

Donate as much as you can. All donations are tax exempt under 80 G and you will be given a receipt. After you send/transfer money, please send a mail to with the amount sent/transferred and the names of people who donated + address where you want the receipts to be delivered.

1. Bank transfer. The details are:

Beneficiary: Rajanet Yegneswaran Charitable Trust

Beneficiary Account 9942500102168101

Bank: Karnataka Bank Koramangala Ext., 17th Main, Bangalore, India

Code: KARB0000094.


2. A cheque in favour of ‘Rajanet Yegneswaran Charitable Trust’ and send it to

Rajanet Yegneswaran Charitable Trust

No 11, 20 L Cross, Sri Rama temple Road,

Ejipura, Viveknagar Post, Bangalore-560 047

Tel: +91 9845449703

Thank you in advance from all the babies, birds, bees and other beings to come :)

(Today the site is down, but guess it works. Check the blog.)


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Rats on Railway Tracks

   Posted by: aman    in Other

All through my childhood and teenage, our small family used pass through Nizammudin Station. It was our halt between trains, from Rourkela to Punjab and vice versa on our way back. Sometimes it would be bright summer at Nizammudin, the hot sun roasting Mamman, Baba and me; at other times it would be freezing cold, with us layering ourselves with as many clothes as we could, but still chilled to the bones. The Rourkela to Punjab wait was a long evening, the Utkal Kalinga Express came in at afternoon and Chattisgarh Express left late at night; the Punjab to Rourkela wait was a long morning, Chattisgarh Express came early morning and Utkal Kalinga Express left late afternoon. On both those halts Mamman would sit on platform chairs and Baba would take me to Delhi to show me monuments and places. My discovery and understanding of Delhi started from Nizammudin.

I must have been seven or eight years old when one cold morning we got down from the train. It was foggy; we could not even see the banisters of the steps we were taking from one platform to another. On Platform One we warmed our hands on the hot tea cups. The fog intensified, as if thick cotton had engulfed the station. We put our hands on our suitcases which we could not see. Someone could have walked away with one. That morning my Delhi trip to Jantar Mantar was cancelled. The fog rose with the sun. Suddenly the shining railway tracks winked at us. Those were days of low platforms. I went to touch the tracks, planning to place a rupee coin on it to see how the next train flattened it. As I neared the track, a huge black demon appeared to approach me. Baba pulled me by my hand, away from the tracks, and the engine rode by. The carriages followed it. The train stopped, people got down, people climbed, the small business hawked tea and biscuits and bread pakodas. The train left. With it went the fog. As if the train had pushed it away from the tracks and adjoining platforms.

I looked back at the tracks. It was full of disposed food, eatable and from toilets. The tracks no longer winked at me; instead they were covered with black rats that came up from beneath them to devour the goodies. I guess they did not distinguish between the two kinds of food. Or maybe they did.

There was another black form amongst them. Bigger. A man. Fighting with the rats, pushing them away from a half eaten piece of bread, a smeared with curry paper plate to lick. Picking morsels that rats would have eaten and putting them in his mouth. His eyes were sharp. Astute, penetrating, looking where no rat could look, on either side of the track, lining him up for the attack, where he was a rival to the regular contestants. He had a black pyjama on, maybe it was white once, he was wearing a torn banyan, this must have been white once, his hair was matted, and his beard was unkempt. He was a human being. No, he was a rat, a scavenger. His eyes stayed with me ever since. Eyes that searched for the meagre remains from moving trains. I had never seen a contest go as basic as that. Hunger can make rodents out of humans.

Now I live in the National Capital Region. I often go down to Nizammudin Station at nights and sit on the platforms. Later I heard of someone brilliant from advertising who used to spend long hours doodling at Nizammudin Station. I hoped one day I would live near Nizammudin Station and write. My hunt for a house has narrowed down to the localities Nizammudin and Jungpura, from where I would not have to drive back an hour to reach home at night. Which are not more than ten minutes by walk from Nizammudin Station and Ashram.

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No overnights please

   Posted by: aman    in Other

When I was to start for Delhi from Bangalore, a year back, I asked my friend Aditya to help me find a place to live. He offered me his flat in Indirapuram. I shifted, set up the flat and started my life in Delhi. Slowly I realised that though Indirapuram is next to Noida, and my office is on the other end of Noida, it takes me up to an hour to reach office. I have to cross two urban villages, and a number of red lights. The traffic is chaotic. Through the year when I went to meet friends in Delhi from office, through the Taj Expressway and the DND toll bridge, I reached Ashram in half an hour.

When I met people in Delhi and told them I lived in Indirapuram, they said, ‘Indirapuram, where?’ When I came home from Delhi, at 11 PM, 11.30 PM, I still got stuck at the Gazipur border on National Highway 24 for up to half an hour. Indirapuram is a concrete colony. A corporate ghetto. Current fails here so often that one cannot even watch videos on a website like YouTube in peace, forget downloading anything. One morning, I argued with the owner of the dairy booth in my complex. The milk had not arrived until 8 AM. He said, ‘If you want milk early live in Delhi.’ That is when it hit me that I did not really live in Delhi. Indirapuram was not Delhi, at least not perceived to be part of Delhi.

I have started my hunt for a small place in Delhi, some where 10 minutes from Ashram. Technically, according to people who live in Golf Links and Hauz Khas, even that is not Delhi. Too far, they say. A friend suggested web sites. Yet, when I search for individual postings on or, I find no listings. All listings pint to brokers. So brokers is the way I go.

‘Sir, can you make a visit to a site on your own? Our New friends Colony area manager is busy today,’ asks a voice from one of the real estate agents.

‘Yes, sure,’ I say.

‘Can you talk to the house owner now? He wants to speak to you. I’ll conference you.’

My, I thought. Is this a real estate agency or a Multi National Company? Area Managers and Conference Calls. ‘Yeah sure.’

An old voice comes up on the other side, ‘I do not understand your company name. Who is the head of the company? What does it do?’

‘Cadence Design Systems. We are an EDA company,’ I reply. Thinking I must say we help make the chips which runs the telephone from which you are speaking.

‘Where is it located?’

‘San Jose,’ I say, stressing the J as an H.


‘California. USA.’

‘Who is the head?’

‘A certain Lip Bu Tan.’


‘A Singaporean immigrant to the United States.’

‘Oh American company.’

I wonder to myself if it is me who is going to stay there or Mr. Lip Bu Tan. The agent gives me the address. I go visit.

A posh house in a posh locality. Statues of Ganesha and Sai Baba in the garden. A man ushers me to garden seats. The man sits down. His father, the old man comes out and takes another seat.

‘What does your company do?’

I tell the man. ‘EDA stands for Electronic Design Automation. We make software that helps companies design chips which are used in everything: mobile phones and super computers.’

They do not understand.

‘Your name is Aman. What is your religion?’

‘Does it matter?’

‘Your father. What does he do?’

‘He is with God.’

‘Your mother?’

‘She too is with God.’

‘Brothers and sisters?’

‘They never came down from God.’

‘Oh! How old are you?’


The man showed me the shabby room, with pink tiles in the bathroom.

‘What is the rent?’

‘Actually, with the Commonwealth Games coming up, we were looking for a foreigner. Someone younger.’

And hotter, I thought to myself.

‘Would you stay alone?’


‘No friends please, no overnights.’

I smiled and said, ‘Do not worry. I do not have a hectic social life.’

I left, knowing prejudice exists in many forms.

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Halla Bol!

   Posted by: aman    in Other

Soon after I finished my formal studies at my university I stopped going for public meetings, protests, morchas and dharnas. I believed in protest, but was caught too deeply in the work life, and by the time I could strike a work-life balance, I had started writing my novels. My novels are protest pieces, because I believe that within an individual lies the site of protest. I might be over generalising, but it is through an individual that I find the scope to create space for an individual’s thinking which might be contrary to a world view. Hence it is a protest.

When I received an invite to the 2009 Queer Pride parade in Delhi I was not sure whether I should go or not. I thought it was on a Saturday, a day I had reserved for my own work. Then the friend called and reminded me that it was on a Sunday. I was elated. I decided to go. For long I have believed that Gays and Lesbians, Bi-sexuals, Trans-gendered and Trans-sexual people are like us, in fact in many cases sharper and more sensitive because they have had to survive on the other side of the stigma that the society has imposed upon them.

I had just been a few minutes at the parade when the organisers unfurled a long, multi-coloured cloth, the symbol of the movement – the rainbow. When I was a child, on summer nights, my father, mother, and I used to sleep outdoors in the garden. Some times it would start to rain in the middle of the night. We would rush indoors but I would insist that my father and mother open a turban, hold its open ends in their two hands to make a canopy, and I would proudly walk under it. I would imagine I was a king, and my procession would wind its way through the small hedges and brick paths to reach my palace, my home.

When the rainbow was unfurled on Tolstoy Marg I remembered the protection that I used to seek under the turban canopy of my childhood. The rainbow seemed to be like that, a cover under which each person was free to be, free to choose how to live, free to dream, and be accepted. It took me a while to muster my courage to walk under it. But I did walk, it was my baptism, in the midst of a cheering and dancing crowd, I alone walked under the curtain. No one noticed me, no one knew it was my baptism, but when I emerged from under it a banner stared me in my face: walk together, to walk alone.

It was a lovely parade.

Most parades that I have attended in life have been sombre affairs. A tragedy occurs and people protest for rights, for redressal. In this parade, an ongoing tragedy is unfurling, but everyone was dancing, chanting slogans, talking with each other, and laughing. The police was extremely polite. A wonder. All my life I have heard the police abuse criminals and offenders by using terms which stood for all the labels by which people in this parade are known. They are ugly words, bristling with prejudice: chakka, gandu, and such. Yet, that day, when those who are known by those words, were out in a demonstration of their being together, the police was so polite towards us, only requesting us to speed up and not block traffic on Janpath.

What an inversion of power, I thought.

Soon after, the Delhi High Court scrapped Article 377, which mentioned homosexuality as a crime, and treated LGBTI people as criminals, use the law to arrest, prosecute, terrorize and blackmail sexual minorities. I recently read that 2 to 13 percent of India’s population might be gay, or interested in gay rights. That means the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex people are a prominent vote bank. No wonder Indian politicians are reluctant to voice their opinion against the community. Cheers! Queer pride has arrived, and it is here to stay.

I enjoyed myself at the parade. Come next year. It is fun.

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