Sensitivity where art thou, Shimla cries for you
Times are changing alright; we are progressing with age and time has come when pace of Shimla is matching the pace of most developed cities in India. Time was when modesty, selflessness and compassion flowed through the heart of residents of the Queen of Hill. With development and large scale urbanization, the mindset of the town is changing – and the change is demeaning the basic culture and charm of the city.
Development and urbanization are slow poison to say. Initially they taste refreshing – refreshing to the extent that humans are lured so magnetically to them. Culminating effect is fatal. Shimla is sipping on this slow poison and is headed for self destruction.
Who is to blame? Finger pointing comes naturally to Indians, so when I ask this, all of us will have our fingers pointed at the administration.
Constitutionally this is correct – and why not, the administration and public representatives we have voted to power are responsible for it all. If there is uncontrolled urbanization – government policies should have been framed to avoid it. If there is unmanageable garbage on roads, pollution in the air and contaminated water in the taps – administration should have strict measures in place. But, considerable citizens are we the main contributors to this?
I once read “your character is what you are when you are alone”, and it has stayed with me ever since. I bring this up to validate my point. We citizens are primarily responsible for the rumpus we confront in the town of late.
Himachalis, the residents of the abode of snow, are by virtue sensitive to change, sensitive to our culture and sensitive to the surroundings. Thus, for Shimlaites this sense of sensitivity comes by default.
Change is the only constant. Change we must and so we are steadily. We are more literate, more monetarily concerned and at near prime of a standard of living. Culturally we are still rooted – probably our previous generation has instilled this sense in us. Concern looms on our sensitivity to the surroundings.
We are literate, but our education has defaulted somewhere. We are concerned but our sensitivity is lost somewhere. We blame but our self-conscience has gone astray.
Back in school (this would be some 20 years back) moral science and civics was taught to me. Back then I never realized how my consciousness towards little civic duties and efforts towards betterment of my surrounding would make a difference. Today I realize it, but my neighbour makes me believe, I am in the wrong part of the world with an unwanted conscience.
How justified is it then to be the run off the mill? Is what your neighbour doing the correct way to do things, I often ask this to myself. I don’t get an answer – an answer is difficult to find because ‘this is India and nothing is going to change here ever.’ This cliché must have reached your ears a number of times. I am growing old listening to it.
Certainly this is not how it should be, at least that sensitivity instilled in me by being part of the hill state, tells me so. Calling out to all who follow – Change we must!
Change to ask questions, why my rights are being murdered by incapable, narrow sighted governance. Change to come to terms with my sensitivity to question that neighbour who stays and feeds on my city’s resources but fails to do his bit in return. Change to question my own acts when I’m in public or when I am walking down the road by myself.
“This is a ladies seat”
Shimla: Until now, I didn’t know the difference between a lady and a middle-aged woman when a ‘LADY’ on a local bus helped me distinguish it. While travelling in an overloaded local bus today, a voice from somewhere in the middle of the bus cracked into my ears saying “ye ladies seat hai.”
The irony of the situation was that the person who was trying to capture the so-called ladies seat was herself a lady, probably in her twenties. But, to my conscious, I came to know that women in their twenties are not considered ladies by other middle-aged ladies’. And, with no guilt, the ‘LADY’ took a seat proudly while the little ‘GIRL’ uttered softly but furiously “aap hi beth jao.”
The percentage of reserved seats for ladies in a local bus in Shimla is almost 50%. But this does not imply that women who are well built and enjoy a good health condition also cannot manage to stand for a few kms.
Reservation in India as a whole had already been criticized for a long time now.
But asking for a reservation for women and also granting it is not making women stronger or acceptable but weaker and vulnerable.
Women aren’t any minority in India who needs a reservation to prove themselves. And all women who think they need it are not strong enough to empower themselves.
Author: Tabbu Verma
Disclaimer: Himachal Watcher may not necessarily share the same opinion as expressed by the author.
Weeklong Harassment by Shimla’s Electricity and Water Departments
If you have a property (house) in Shimla but you don’t stay here, you could end up paying a price for it. Price not only in monetary terms but in terms of undue stress and pain.
I had been living in Rajasthan for a few months now, leaving home in Shimla only to return for the surprise of my life.
In today’s technologically advanced system, I could be considered liable for a moment, but what transpired because of my negligence (if you may) is something I don’t want anyone else to go through. This is why I’m sharing my bitter experience with the electricity board and water department in Shimla.
Living away from hometown, I should have paid water and electricity bills for my home in Shimla. I should have; but, due to negligence or over involvement in personal chores, I was unable to pay the bills online.
All the while, I had it in the back of the mind but I thought I will pay the bills (with whatever penalties) in person the next time I am in Shimla.
I thought it would be easy. Instead, I was for a week of mental trauma.
When I came back to Shimla, a few days back, there was no electricity and water supply to my home.
Worried not bewildered, I lived with it for the night and planned a visit the concerned departments the next morning, to clear the pending bills and have the water and electricity supplies restored.
To my surprise, it wasn’t as easy as I expected it to be.
When I went to pay the electricity bill at Lakkar Bazaar ( the area where my house is), I was asked to go to the main office of the electricity board in Sanjauli. I went to Sanjauli, where I was told that electricity connection to my house had been cut, and I needed to apply for a new connection.
I was told a fresh file, for a new connection, had to be made.Now I was certainly bewildered.
From then onward, I was sent from one electricity office to another for different papers. To the DC office for affidavits– all the procedures had to be done from scratch.
It took almost a week (six dark days precisely)to complete the entire procedure afresh. All this while I didn’t find one person in the electricity board who cared for the mental trauma I was going through or how my family would be living without electricity.
Finally, after innumerable visits to various offices of the electricity board, I took the file to the JE office in Snowdown hospital.
Here, I was meted with a shock. The courteous JE informed that my family didn’t have to stay without electricity for so many days, neither did I have to go through all the pain. JE said ‘power supply could have been restored to my home in matter of few hours after the bill payment and the process for new application could have been followed thereafter.’
He then sent a person from his office along with me to the concerned office in Lakkar Bazaar. Finally, we saw a bright night at my place.
JE was the only person in the entire electricity board who talked nicely, gave me correct guidance and helped solve my problem.
My worries were not just limited to the electricity board. I was all this while simultaneously running pillar to post to pay my water bill and have the water supply restored.
The issue was an elaborate water bill, which was beyond anyone’s understanding. For us, we should have only been charged the meter rent because we had not used water for months.
This is when I learned about plugging connection. When you are not at home and would not be using water for months, the water department requires you to plug the connection.
This ensures you’ve only billed the meter rent and not for the usage (though, how do you end up using water when you’re not home stays an arguable story for me).
During the weeklong process, I was not only without electricity at home, there was no water too.
Considering myself a defaulter, I silently kept doing what the office bearers in the department were asking me to do.I was ready to follow the procedure but it was such a pain to see that no officer was considerate enough to help resolve the issue soon. Instead, I was made to run from one office to another with documents that were not even required.
It took me eight long days to pay the pending bills, apply to have the water meter plugged, and to have water supply restored to my house.
This was it, I couldn’t have taken anymore but the water department wasn’t done with its lackluster attitude.
After a month of submitting the application to get the water meter plugged, I again received an inflated bill. I called the water billing office for clarity.
After making an infinite number of calls, I was finally informed that the water meter of my home was still not plugged.
Alas! What had I done wrong to deserve this?
Immediately, I called up Mr. Laxmi Thakur (the person) responsible for plugging the water meter. He said ‘Madam, I plugged your meter the same day you asked me to’.
The linesman was a helpful fellow.He took it upon himself and went to the billing office to check why I was still getting huge bills despite the meter being plugged.
Post inquiry, he informed me that my file had reached the water department from Mayor’s office the same day I submitted it but people in the billing office didn’t update the same on their computer systems.
With Mr Thakur’s efforts, my bill was recreated with the correct amount, which I then paid off instantly.
•If electricity connection to your house is disconnected for non-payment of a bill, go directly to the JE of your area. The JE will escalate the matter and power supply will be restored. Now, follow the formalities, as guided, and get a new connection
•If you have property in Shimla but you’re out and not using IPH water supply, get your meter plugged to avoid rentals above the meter rent
By Rajni, Shimla
Photo: Sk-bent ex
SHIMLA- I really wanted to share this experience of mine I had last week. I am not able to get it off my mind. Most logical conclusion I could reach was that it was a rare kind of co-incident, like one in one million. You better read it first.
So, I took an HRTC bus from Old ISBT to Dhanda, like always. I am living in Shimla for past 17 years, so it was like any other day. The bus was going toward Ghannatti and suited me best. I took a window-side seat. It was a normal ride and I had a Rs. 10 note in my hand for the fare. The conductor approached me and I instantly offered Rs.10 note. To my surprise, conductor asked me, “aap ke pass 9 rupay khulle ni hain?” That was ridiculous because the fair was Rs. 9 and I was offering him a Rs.10 note. I gave him an agitated look with expression of confusion on my face. He returned me Rs. 2 and moved on. He didn’t give me a ticket. It’s not that I never traveled without ticket. In private buses, it’s no big deal. Conductors rarely give tickets to local passengers.
But lately, I had decided not to take any chance with HRTC and I always ensured I get a ticket. It would help me in many situations, especially in legal ones, if they ever arise. Secondly, it was an HRTC bus and the conductor charged one rupee less but didn’t give me a ticket. So, Rs. 8 went to his pocket and not to the HRTC, where it was supposed to go. I would be a part of this corrupt act if I didn’t ask for ticket. Then, I thought what if ticket-checker raid situation arise? It would be an embarrassing situation. I was so desperate to ask the conductor for ticket. I waited for him to come back, and meanwhile I kept thinking about it. It was a lazy afternoon of April, and I don’t know when I felt asleep.
After that, what I remember is hearing a loud voice saying, “ticket dikhao” , which woke me up. It was like worst nightmare of my life. The bus was on Totu stoppage and a ticket-checker was asking passengers to show tickets. I thought, may be, I was still asleep, but it didn’t seem so. I felt a wave of anxiety across my body. The conductor was near my seat and I poked him silently, telling him that he did not give me a ticket. He was as scared as me and he started to behave defensively. I just asked him to give me a ticket from any station before it’s too late. He, too, quickly gave me a ticket from Power House stoppage (Rs.3). The checker had noticed it but he wasn’t sure so both conductor and me came out clean.
I was still half-asleep and was experiencing a sort of trauma when I got off the bus at Dhanda and came straight to home. I just crashed on my bed and fell asleep. When I woke up, I realized, I was dreaming. But the emotional impact of the dream was quite heavy and I could remember it clearly, rather, still feel it. I made coffee, switched on the TV and tried to relax, but still couldn’t find out whether it was a dream or it really happened.
Then, I realized that there is a way to confirm it – the ticket. I had put it in my purse (even if it was a dream). So, I reached for the purse. I found a ticket and it said “Rs.3”. It did really happen. I felt like I was in some TV serial scene. Later, it started amusing me. What really confused me was that I felt asleep while I was still thinking about disadvantages of traveling without a ticket and unfortunately it was not my lucky day.
One thing is sure that after this incident is that I would never, ever travel without ticket.
Posted by a reader in HW Your Story
Disclaimer: The views & opinions expressed in this post are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of the Himachal Watcher community as a whole.