Chotu – One common story of a common boy in India
Hello Saheb ji and Madam ji,
My name is Chotu. Ma says she used to call me babu when I was just a few months old. But my boss calls me Chotu. I work in a small stall. My boss owns a stall which is a few blocks away from Bhikaji Cama Place. It’s a commercialized complex and lots of bade Sahebjis come to work. They have big and good looking cars. I wish I could drive them one day. Maybe I can. I was telling Ma that I will become a driver when I grow up because of my love for cars. I always wondered how they worked. I had once got a chance to talk to the Saheb ji of one of the cars which was parked there. He was standing while his driver was changing the punctured tire. I was called to help the driver. When I was done the Saheb ji started asking me questions and when I asked about how the car worked, he smiled and said he had no idea. I had thought that he would know since he looked well educated to me but he did not. The driver told me later that, Saheb ji was just a rich son of a rich man. He was just lucky to have been born in that family. That made me sad. I thought everyone who goes to isschool is wise. Ma also wants me to go to isschool and study but I cannot. We don’t have money. After talking to Saheb ji, I wonder if I will become a learned man. I don’t know.
The other day I saw two pretty didi’s. I called them to our stall but they told me not to pester them. While passing our stall they even used some eenglees. These days I hear many people speaking eenglees. It sounds very nice to me. I don’t know much angreji. But my boss taught me some words like hello, good morning and thank you. The didi’s while passing by the stall said they would not have anything from us because they were not sure how clean we were. I take a bath every morning before coming to work. There is a tap in our jhuggi. I don’t understand why they spoke like that. It was very strange to see that they did not stop at our stall but went a block ahead and stopped at Rakesh’s stall. Maybe they like him. I don’t know.
Rakesh sells golgappas and chaat. I think didi’s like golgappas and chaat. I have seen many didi’s there mostly in the evening. Rakesh lives in our jhuggi too. He takes bath before me under the same tap. I don’t know why the didi’s find him clean and not me. Maybe I am not as gora as him. Ma got a soap last week. I have been using it and rubbing on my face. Ma said it’s a new soap which will make you gora in less than seven days. But they showed a didi on the TV. Maybe it will not work on me. I am a boy. I don’t know.
Oh by the way, we don’t have a TV. Ma saw it in the badi kothi where she works. She washes the dishes and cleans the house. The Madam ji for whom my Ma works is very nice. She gives me some clothes to wear sometimes. Last to last Diwali she gave me a new shirt to wear. I don’t like Diwali. I generally lose all my jhuggi friends a month before Diwali. They all go to some factory to make crackers. They say it is a very tough job and they don’t like making crackers. They want to study like the other children their age. But they cannot because they don’t have any money. Sometime back there was an andolan to stop using child labor for making crackers. But there are still many who still work there. What can they do? They need daal roti to live. My Ma’s madam ji seems very well educated to me. She knows many things and how they work. She also says she doesn’t like the ghotaalaa in the politics in our country. She says she would have made our country a better place to be in if she was the Prime Minister. She says people don’t select the right people and the jhuggi people are too blind and trust any neta and vote for him. The last time, elections took place I had gone to Madam ji to ask who she thought was right to vote because Ma had to vote the next day. Madam ji said she had no interest whatsoever. She said she had a party to go to and so she would not be going out to vote. Plus it was very hot outside. I don’t understand why she wouldn’t vote. Maybe she doesn’t care. I don’t know.
These bade padhe likhe log don’t look very padhe likhe to me. Ma tells me to shut up because I don’t go to isschool. I ask her back, do the Saheb and Madam jis know? May be they do but pretend not to.Then why are only the jhuggi people called ignorant? I don’t know.
Well, it’s been a while now and I have to go. You see I have to take the Chai to our customers. We have a Chai stall and everyone here calls me Chotu- Chaiwala.
A very common story of an Indian boy. India has completed 63 years of freedom but still people question about its independence. It doesn’t have anything to with the nation but the people in it. How many of us are actually doing anything? Before submitting this article I made my friend read it, he told me we Desis in States are not good enough either. It is always easier to write and speak but rarely does anyone come ahead to do something. But is that how people back home look at all the desis abroad?? That we desis leave the country, lose the cultural touch, keep criticizing and plan never to return back home? No. I’m not one of those. I might be away but I am Proud to be who I am. An Indian.
A day with the Liberty Lady
Last semester I was allotted a dorm room on the tenth floor. What was so amazing about this room? Well I and my roomie were the lucky ones to get the room with the ultimate view, the ultimate view of the Statue of Liberty!! If you are wondering then yes I was lucky enough to visit the beautiful and one of the major tourist destinations in US. Well staying in New York and not visiting the Statue of liberty is surely a crime! So when I was finally settled with my semester and had everything in control (by that I mean the dorm, fees, books, classes, schedule) I finally made plans with my roomie to go visit the Liberty Lady.
Location: The Statue of Liberty stands tall on Liberty Island within the State of New York.
Best time to visit: Any pleasant day as long as it’s not raining or snowing. Spring, summer and autumn are my order of preference.
Getting there: If you are planning to visit from New York then you will have to go Battery Park in lower Manhattan and if you are planning to visit from New Jersey then you will have to go to Liberty State Park. Once you reach the park ferries take you to the destination since it is the only way to get there. The Statue is not accessible by road. Ofcourse it is not! It’s an island…What was I thinking???!!
Since me and my roomie went from New York we went to Battery Park first. Once in the park, you need to go to the Castle Clinton National Monument from where you get to buy your ferry tickets.
Battery Park in itself is a pretty huge park and very beautiful. It is where the ferries come and carry the tourists to the Liberty Island. Our tickets were for 12:30pm and we arrived at 11:00am (we are overly punctual. wink.). I suggest you reach an hour or two before your ticket timing to board the ferry. Once you are there you can always kill time by checking out the stalls. Shop, eat and if possible get pictures clicked with the impersonator. There is a small shop inside the ferry too but it’s better to eat a bit before you travel.
Once it is your time to board the ferry you are made to stand in a queue. Now here is where it can take sometime since everyone has to go through a screening process and that is why getting tickets online is a better idea since reserved queues are smaller and the screening process is a bit quick. The screening process is similar like the one we have in the airport so be ready to take out off your jackets, belts or any metal belongings.
On the ferry: Once you board the ferry the best place to go get seated is on the top. It’s however first cum first serve but still you never know you might get lucky. Most people prefer standing. The duration to reach the Liberty Island is around 15-20mins. So that’s the time when you can get a whole lot of pictures. Of the bridge, the New York Skyline and the Statue of course!
Tip: Keep your camera handy so that you can take pictures of the Statue as this is the only time when the ferry takes a total 360 turn around the Statue and you can capture as many snapshots as you want from any angle.
On the Island: Ferries run every 30mins hence set your watch accordingly so that you roam around the Island and return to the place where ferry dropped you. Now here is the tricky part. Apparently the tickets have been divided into four types and depending on which ticket you carry you are allowed to walk on the island. There maybe areas where your entry might be restricted if not mentioned on your tickets.
Gift Shop: Quite strange I had thought they’d be many shops but to my surprise I only saw one gift shop, big but one. Here you can buy your Statue of Liberty souvenirs for your family, friends or just yourself.
Museum: If you happen to have the Reserve with Crown Ticket(the highest priced ticket)you have an access to the museum.
Getting back: Once the ferry picks you up from the place where it dropped you it will first take you to the Ellis Island where you can visit the Immigration Museum. If you are interested in anything related to historical immigration to America, then this is the place for you. You may or may not choose to de -board the ferry at Ellis Island and continue back to Battery Park in New York.
A few pointers you may want to know:
- If you are coming from New York it’s best to take the subway since it’s economical and fast.
- It is always better to book your tickets online at http://www.statuecruises.com as you end waiting in the line otherwise.
- It is always better to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. The island area can be a tad bit windy so you might want to dress accordingly.
- Battery Park in itself has a lot to offer, like the memorials. Some include the New York Korean War Veterans Memorial, East Coast Memorial and Coast Guard Memorial. So stick around for a while and explore.
- Take it from me the impersonator wouldn’t tell you this before posing with you for photos but it costs $5 so don’t think it’s free.
- The stalls at the Battery Park entry are the best place to buy I ♥ NY t-shirts and hoodies available in many different sizes and colors. So make sure you grab one of those.
- Charge your camera battery in advance so that you can click as many pictures as you want.
- Last but not the least…enjoy enjoy and enjoy!
That was my experience with Lady with the Torch. Have you been to any such monument or maybe any wonder of the world?? Let me know if you’ve had any such experience would love to hear something.