Children at Play 3: Sugar Cane Juice


Children-at-play-rohit-pansare-photo

A child poses on a sugarcane juicer…

Nothing can beat a glass of sugar-cane juice on a hot day. Freshly crushed,in front of your eyes, zero processing, zero additives, devoid of chemical preservatives, un-‘carbonated’ and pure unadulterated fun! One glass is never enough for  a hungry and  weary traveller.

700km from their home, a family is busy serving cups of sugarcane juice to tired souls. Every year they travel with the entire family to sell their juice. This job for them is temporary, and they are to return home once a favourable season for farming arrives. The head of the family, an old aged man keeps a watchful eye as his son spins the juicer, with assistance from his wife. A little boy, his grandson, meanwhile, frolics around, climbing on top of the juicer. teasing his father who has picked up a steady rhythm.

A boy away from home,away from his friends, plays alone by the highway….

He is a Muslim…!


Juma-Masjid-Ahmedabad-Rohit-Pansare-photography

He is a Muslim…!

“He is a Muslim…!” The words still echoed in his mind as he got down the flight of stairs. The officer on the phone had apologized several times when he had come to know who Anand was. But it was too late. Anand had lost his faith and respect in the city and community in particular. Despite being aware of the communal disharmony, this was the first time Anand had experienced first hand discrimination in 4 years. Anand, an architect and an urban planner, was a Senior Planner in the Government. It was his job to know the city well, and be aware of  its needs, the people, their troubles and expectations.

Arti, Anand’s sister, was following her brother’s footsteps, had come to the city on  an architectural tour. The city, known for its Mughal and modern architecture was a must visit for budding architects. Arti and her friends had taken up  the case study  of the local Architecture and Planning Institute . This was a structure  famous for its campus design and environment. Anand had been more than happy to have company for a few days and had welcomed them to stay in his house. Maybe it was a mistake, thought Anand now,  as he hailed the driver to get the car and drive him home.

 Asif,  just out of his teenage years was being consoled by Arti and her friends. He felt angry and helpless. He had got used topeople staring at him, when he uttered his name. But this had been an insult and it had made everyone feel miserable. Yes Arti’s friend was Muslim, but did that really matter? He was a human being, no different. Anand hoped, all was well as he told the driver to drive faster.

The Police officers had already left when Anand arrived. He had inquired with the security guard and had come to know that one of their neighbors had made the complaint. The officers had said that they couldn’t reveal the identity of the complainant. Anand had argued and reasoned with them for an hour on the phone and had finally convinced them that Asif was not a terrorist, but just a student and his sister’s friend. Even Asif’s university ID was not enough to convince them. They were only convinced when they came to know Anand was a Government official. After that Asif’s identity did not matter.

This was the same city where a common man had once preached about peace, communal harmony, non-violence and led the people towards freedom from slavery. All had been lost, his words, ideals had been packed, re-packaged and sold. There was no room for implementing his ideas now.

Arti left the next day, as planned with her friends. Anand again apologized for the trouble Asif had to endure. Asif in reply, hugged Anand warmly and said, “An apology from you is uncalled for, I know I hugged a friend just now”

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Nature’s children…


As a child I have always loved the woods. Up until high school I have enjoyed our weekly treks through the forest, lazing around on our favorite lake with close friends. There seemed nothing better, but to listen to soft murmur of leaves and occasional creaking of a dried branch of a tree. We used to skip stones on the lake, always choosing the flattest of the stones to get some 20 skips on the placid water. I remember climbing on to one of the mounts along the lake to find a bronze idol of the tiger god hidden away in thick undergrowth. Discovery of adventure beckoned us

The walk back to civilization was always depressing. As we moved closer to it, the greens disappeared, being replaced by the grey and the white of concrete and cement. I grew up wanting to be a forest guard, much to the displeasure of my parents. By the time I was out of Jr. College, the world seemed different, more confusing than ever. Much to their relief, I didn’t become one, but still I managed to find my way into the forest department! The memories of my precious time with nature, kept getting me back to it, making me more aware of the bond I share with it.

Now as I stand in a mall, I see children coming in for a stroll, with their parents, friends. I wonder how this contrasting experience would shape their lives. Their only connection to nature seems to be through the Discovery Channel or National Geographic Channel or the fluffy bear that sells over sweetened chocolate covered cereal. Technology a product of nature, like everything else, has replaced nature itself. A stroll through the mall, keeps them abreast of the latest brands, and newest things to buy. These malls now seem to be a elaborate stage to promote packaging products that are of no particular significance to become difficult to live without.

Children ave become ideal points of entry for companies to market their products. Now children no more dream of walking in the rain forest. They would instead enjoy, wearing the best watch, driving the costliest car and buying the newest phone.

Nature, it seems to me, is no more a part of their lives the way technology is. Natures children have now been adopted by technology.

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This post is inspired by the book “Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorders” by Richard Louv

Cover of "Last Child in the Woods: Saving...

Cover via Amazon

a double life


Double-life-photography-rohit-pansare
It’s not easy living a double life,
Within oneself it’s like a strife….

It’s hard to improve your situation
If you feel you lack the tools to do so.

It becomes easier to drag your body…
Being numb and moving with the crowd….
yet trying to find your way aimlessly.

So what if you don’t want to be a cliché?
You are either alone or your one of them..
Either ways you are a stranger in the crowd.

You get into a monotonous rhythm…
it is difficult to break, difficult to escape,
It keeps rolling you in its swell…

The tide takes you in,
spins you around, takes you for a ride,
until you realize that you haven’t moved an inch!

Trying to escape but making sure you don’t…
There is nothing much you can do..
You either rise above or drown in the swell!It is not easy living a double life