Monthly Archives: December 2007

When has law triumphed over religion?

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“It just grabs you by the throat and claws on the inside. It makes me want to leap out and destroy everything in my path..”

I read this somewhere and it’s become a recurrent theme that hits me every time I turn into my lane. I’ve lived in this area, for 25 years and counting, and we rarely, if ever, took this entry into our lane. This entry, also an entry point to the largest slum in the area. Ergo the lane had become another public toilet. Walking through or even driving past it was very difficult.

One fine morning there was a Sai Baba Temple constructed around on of these corners and benches put through that lane. It was a small temple and I suspect, as a result of the local corporator’s auspices.

We rejoiced. This meant the lane was clean again! Benches were put and plants in pretty pots were planted , little holy pictures on little tiles were embedded into the walls…and the lane as we knew it, got a facelift.

But today, some 10 years later, the temple has overtaken that lane. The curb is no longer visible, neither is the drain. Marble gleams and it has its own pujari and flower vendor next to it. There is even a huge list of “donations” and “donators” next to the temple, on a wall encroached from the adjacent society.

Every day morning when I leave, this turn is a bottleneck.Not for traffic reasons but for devout followers who can’t bear to break (brake?) their journey and pray in peace. People are wandering around the temple looking at people passing by and wondering if any indication from the god (not Title Case for me)  next to them will jumpstart their lives.. this day dreaming of theirs is costing you precious minutes but hey they don’t care.  You honk at them and it earns you a glare.

Evening when I return, louts are ‘hanging out’ at this corner. Of course their corner stretches in the middle of the erstwhile lane but hey you, the car and the driver, are disturbing their peace garnered from the temple and its presence.

Every year various occasions clog it up and we are asked to take a long route home and that’s when in wrathful fury I wonder if I can complain to the municipality and get this temple demolished. My mother rebukes for wanting to destroy  a holy shrine and that pisses me off. How is illegally taking over a half the road a religious thing?

Then I remember Babri Masjid and Akshardham and all of the Mahaartis and all other times when religion sneakily triumphed over all other reasoning and the first line starts playing in my head all over again.

Then again, may be it’s just road rage?

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Discrimination

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Recently Vodaphone (earlier known as Hutch) sacked a female employee because she refused to stop wearing her symbols of marital status — sindhoor, bangles and a bindi. Their reason: her desk was near the reception (of a back end op) and they weren’t comfortable with someone like her sitting in a position where she could be easily spotted.

She went without a fight.

I didn’t know such discrimination had raised its ugly head in India too.