Poem review: Suburbs by Pablo Neruda



“I celebrate the virtues and vices

of suburban middle-class people

who overwhelm the refrigerator

and position colourful umbrellas

near the garden that longs for a pool:

for my middle-class brother

the principle of supreme luxury:

what are you and what am I, and we go on deciding

the real truth in this world.

The truth of that dream we buy on credit

of not going to the office on Saturday, at last,

and the merciless bosses whom the worker

manufactures in indivisible granaries

where executioners were always born

and grow up and always multiply.

We,heroes and poor devils,

the feeble, the braggarts, the unfinished,

and capable of everything impossible

as long as it’s not seen or heard

Don juans, women and men, who come and go

with the fleeting passage of a runner

or of a shy hotel for travelers.

And we with our small vanities,

our controlled hunger for climbing

and getting as far as everybody else has gotten

because it seems that is the way of the world:

an endless track of champions

and in a corner we, forgotten

maybe because of everybody else,

since they seemed so much like us

until they were robbed of their laurels,

their medals, their titles, their names.”


I chose this poem because it was a part of our school curriculum and i really related to one line in particular which is “I celebrate the virtues and vices of suburban middle-class people who overwhelm the refrigerator and position colorful umbrellas near the garden that longs for a pool” because not only do i find that literally the fridge at my home is always full but also that we are so full of pride that we are not open to new opinions or changes and want to be full of what we are.


The Long Crate: A dabbawala’s weapon of choice

The long crate: A dabbawala’s weapon of choice

My research question- Why do dabbawalas in Mumbai use long head crates for transporting the tiffin boxes?

The Mumbai dabbawala performs a very important duty every day, getting freshly prepared home food delivered to the owners of the various dabbas at their offices.  To do this he utilizes a very special set of tools that are built for the purpose. The most important tool in a dabbawala’s arsenal is the long crate. The crate that the dabbawala uses is unique to his profession, it is a slender crate that is long in its length but short in its width which increases the ease of handling while being transported through trains wading through the Mumbai populace. The crate is used extensively to transport the dabbas to and from the workers home to their offices and back again. It increases their day to day transport efficiency by letting them carry more tiffins per delivery. The form factor enables the dabbawala to easily manoeuvre  the crates during transport and helping them reduce the workload of having to constantly pay heed to their surrounding in order to get the dabbas loaded and offloaded at various points throughout their journey. This allows them to concentrate on properly delivering the dabbas to their destination.

Why does a dabbawala use the long crate and not any other type of crate for his deliveries? How dabbawalas came to be and how they have evolved will allow us to get a better understanding of why long crates are used. The dabbawalas have been around for a long while now, diligently providing their service to those looking for hygienic home cooked food for lunch every day. It all started 125 years back when a Parsi banker wanted to have home cooked food regularly in his office and gave this responsibility to the first ever dabbawala. Others soon started liking this idea and the demand for dabba delivery soared. It was all an informal and individual effort in the beginning, but the visionary Mahadeo Havaji Bachche saw an opportunity and started the lunch delivery service in its present team-delivery format with just 100 dabbawalas. As the city grew and more people started working in Mumbai the deman for dabba delivery grew as well. The efficient “Dabba Coding” system was conceived by the people originally behind the dabba delivery concept and it is going strong till today. The coding system has evolved through various stages with time as well. In the beginning it was a simple colour coding system but today it has evolved into alpha numeric characters as Mumbai has evolved into a widely spread metro with three different train routes(Central,Western and Harbour lines).

So how a dabbawala goes about his day is essential to know and this is how he does it. Early in the morning after his bath and completing his daily pooja he puts a tilak(religious mark) on his forehead and heads out. By 9am he is out on the streets with his bi-cycle. The bi-cycles they use are heavy as their carriers are re-enforced with extra iron to be able to take a lot of weight and they don’t have fancy gear systems to reduce to the work. Then travelling through the Mumbai traffic he reaches the assigned area to collect the tiffin boxes from the various customers utilizing their service. To do this he must travel up and down the multi-storied buildings and few of the old buildings don’t even have elevators. Just imagining travelling up and down buildings a couple of times to get the tiffin boxes make me dizzy, they do it every day. By the time all the tiffin boxes have been collected it is already 10:30. The destination that the tiffin boxes have to be delivered are around 40 kilometres away on an average. He carries 30-40 tiffins on his bicycle fighting the bad roads and traffic. He reaches the nearest railway station and he is not alone. All dabbawalas from different areas gather at the station assigned for the particular sector. The tiffin boxes are then sorted according as per their destination according the dabbawala coding system. Most of the tiffins that a dabbawala originally brought to the station on his bicycle have now been handed over to other dabbawala teams going to different parts of the town. Each of the dabbawala joins the team he has been assigned to and so each of them are now transporting tiffins that have been brought in by someone else.The teamwork and trust that the dabbawalas have amongst themselves is what make them accomplish extraordinary things. Then each team picks up the tiffins that have been sorted and assigned to their destination and transfers them onto the long head crates. Each long crate can hold upto 60 dabbas so the total weight that each dabbawala carries on his head is enormous. The dabbawalas then carry the long head crates and rush towards the platforms. The platforms at Mumbai are usually packed at peak hours but the dabbawalas manage to traverse the railway bridges swiftly with the crates on their heads. They have to catch the right train otherwise the tiffins will reach their destination late which is not acceptable. If a tiffin is going to be transported through a complex route the final sorting for it is done on the platforms itself. Once the right train has arrived on the platform they help each other load the wooden crates in the railway luggage compartment. In some local trains there is a special luggage compartment just for the dabbawalas. After every dabbawala has alighted onto the train with their respective crates, all of them settle down and chat to share news and other information. Then once their assigned destination arrives, each of them get off at their respective stations. It’s usually around 12 by the time the last dabbawala has gotten off at his station. To adhere to time restrictions they must hurry.They take the crates on their heads and rush out. The last station on this particular route is Churchgate and there is a sort of grand gathering of dabbawalas outside the station. All of them are doing one work or other to ensure the tiffins reach their destination on time. They now do the final sorting before taking the dabbas to their destination and this requires a great amount of team work. Now the tiffins are exchanged once more amongst the teams and they are transferred onto trollies. Then the various teams of dabbawalas run to their destination which are mostly business centres across Mumbai. The traffic is usually heavy around these centres and the dabbawalas have to shout and scream in order to make way so that pedestrians know they are coming through. Most of the pedestrians politely oblige and give way to them as they know dabbawalas don’t stop for anyone. Once they reach a business hub they spilt again and each dabbawala takes the responsibility of delivering the tiffin boxes to each of the separate buildings in which the owner of the tiffin is waiting for its delivery. Most of these modern business centres have elevators which reduces work for the dabbawala. By 1 in the afternoon all the dabbas have been delivered and the task has been successfully completed. But has it? All of the dabbawalas now gather at one place,pray together and have their lunch. Only half of the task has been completed, as now the tiffins have to be delivered back. So after lunch they go and collect all the dabbas and go through the same process to get the empty tiffins back to their respective homes. By the time each tiffin has reached back to their source destinations it almost 6 in the evening. Every dabbawala goes through a 9-hour work cycle everyday to accomplish the seemingly simple task of delivering freshly prepared home food to the offices of various customers.

During this daily journey the one tool that the dabbawala regularly utilizes while travelling on foot in and out of stations is the long head crate. This crate is usually between 5.5ft to 7ft long depending on the capability of the dabbawala using it. It is generally 1.5ft in width and has a railing extending along its perimeter that is secured on raised posts that extend upto ½ a feet high. It is usually made from wood or aluminium to keep it light weight. This type of a form factor is used by the dabbawalas because of the agility and manoeuvrability it gives them while transporting the tiffin boxes. Carrying 50 to 60 tiffin boxes full of food during the peak hours in trains is no joke. The design of the crate helps reduce their workload because they don’t have to look to their side all the time that a more square crate design would have required. This type of design also only requires them to balance on one axis, front and back. They don’t need to worry about side to side movement when rushing through packed platforms and bridges. The stairs leading up to the bridges in Mumbai platforms are usually only capable of accommodating two lanes each for going up and down.  The slender form lets them squeeze through during rush hours as only one or two people in front of them need to clear the way in order for them to get through. The only problem with the long head crate is turning it quickly. This is one disadvantage this design has and being weighed down by the tiffin boxes slows down the process of turning them length wise even more. This one flaw is overlooked for all the other great advantages that this form factor has. This is because the amount of times the crate needs to be turned during change of direction is very less compared to getting through the crowd efficiently.

All these minute details to accomplish their daily tasks is what has brought the dabbawalas of Mumbai praise from all over the world for accomplishing such a seemingly simple challenge with great efficiency and optimum results. They are a terrific example of a very good supply chain management system achieving close to Sigma Six standards. You usually don’t see such processes reaching such high standards while utilizing a workforce that has been educated on an average up to the 8th standard. This means that each part of the delivery process that the dabbawalas follow has been optimized very well and the long head crate being a part of the process is a testimony to that. Each detail on this seemingly simple tool has been thought through and implemented accordingly and this is why the dabbawalas today, utilize this tool that cannot be replaced by anything else in their arsenal.


















Mumbai’s Dabbawala: The Uncommon Story of The Common Man-

-by Shobha Bondre

Ebook link- https://books.google.co.in/books?id=kdj3AgAAQBAJ&pg=PT90&lpg=PT90&dq=dabbawala+crate&source=bl&ots=IYUQVl0KyJ&sig=MJUcZ1LN7Qqb7xjtYPz6heVt5I0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjIz6aQnpjTAhVIO48KHcQ2ApIQ6AEIVjAN#v=onepage&q=dabbawala%20crate&f=false

What’s in a Name?

Lord Shiva is considered to be one of the three Great Gods, He enjoys this position with Vishnu and Brahma. Vishnu is the protector and Brahma the creator, the reason why we are all here. Shiva is considered to be the destroyer,

If mankind is no longer fit to be on the face of the earth, he will bring down his wrath upon them with the help of his third eye. The Tandav that Shiva performs is considered to be one of the most ferocious of all dances. Shiva resides in the mountain of Kailash with his wife Parvati. The appearance of Shiva is like that of an ascetic and he holds a trident in one of his arms, and has an hourglass shaped drum (damaru).  He wears the crescent moon on his head, has a serpent as a garland around his neck and the Ganga is supposed to flow from his hair. Also a distinct feature of Shiva is that he has a blue throat, and in some depictions his entire body is shown to be blue. Shiva has two children, namely

Ganesh and Kartikeya who are worshipped just as much as Shiva. Shiva has many names and one of them is Taraknath which means the protector lord, he also has an interesting name which he received after his blue throat. The name is Neelkanth which literally means one with the blue throat.

Coming back from mythological gods to people in real life who accomplished godly tasks, I would like to mention Neil Armstrong who is already well known for being the first man who walked the moon. While accomplishing this feat he also made a very famous quote “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”. Neil Armstrong was the commander of the Apollo 11 and a very accomplished man back on earth as well, he was and aerospace engineer, university professor and a naval aviator.

Taraknath, Neelkanth and Neil from Neil Armstrong is what forms the basis for my name, Tarneil. Pretty impressive? Well that is what my parents thought. Unfortunately it not as easy to pronounce as some of the more familiar names that Hindu children have. People have come up with quite a few version of my name, they even write and pronounce it the same. I would like to give a few examples, well I have quite a few to share, Traneil,Turnil,Kurnil,Tar-Neeel,Tharnul,Tarnil. These are the ones I could come up with in the back of my mind. I prefer my original name, pronunciation and spelling or simply Neil. This is the story of my name and how I have lived with it.

Joan Didion- Why I Write(Review)

The author starts out by saying that a writer wants to express oneself through their writing, that they impose themselves on others, this I feel is not entirely true and though it might be in her case she doesn’t really convey it as well through this piece. Writers aren’t bullies they’re visionaries who were bullied. Every writer who is successful would have been a bookworm at some point or the other, not to say the unsuccessful ones weren’t. In this age, usually in school or any other social gathering bookworms are the ones that might get bullied. If the writer assumes she is bullying people through her writing then she is assuming something that is not true, one has a choice if they want to believe what the author wants to say or not, thus if they want to be bullied or not. Real bullying gives no choice.

The writer has titled the piece “Why I Write”, as she likes the repeated sound of I repeated in this sentence, which conveys she knows who she is and knows what she wants to convey through her writing. But later on in her article she goes on to say that she is writing because she doesn’t know what her thoughts are and wants to explore who she is and why she thinks in such a way. This is contradicting herself. I am not sure if this is what she is trying to convey as sometimes we think we know something then we think more and question ourselves if we really know it and contradict ourselves. The author says she is writing to discover herself and the article definitely shows that as even though it’s her thoughts written openly it actually gives an insight of how she thinks and how her train of thoughts and method of questioning is, it definitely shows how she is exploring herself through her writing.

This article is apt for the question of Who am I? It reveals how a writer with a degree in literature would go about exploring herself through the various forms that she writes in. The author explores the idea of “who I am is what I write” and she does it in a way specific to her revealing more about herself little by little as she progresses in the article. I found it to be a fascinating read and it gave me an idea of how people perceive themselves in different ways.

Am I a Who?

The essence of a person is how they want to represent themselves. We are a race that lives in groups, communities and societies. What we do or have done defines us and tells the world what we are. Our capabilities are only limited by ourselves. The potential of every human being is limitless if they choose it to be. But seeing ourselves through our own eyes tells us what we are and no matter how much one has achieved, only those eyes know what had to be done to accomplish those things.

When asked by someone about my identity, the first thought that comes to my mind or the minds of anyone posed with such a question is simple. Who am I? No one defines their identity on a daily basis and people have to think a little before they come up with an answer. Of course the literal answer about ones identity would be the facts they already know. Like their names, what they do, who their parents are etc.  But a much deeper understanding of oneself is required before we can “conjure” an answer for this question. Every day we are new, no one can be the same person every day. You have changed mentally as well as physically. You have grown a day older. You have gained the experience of one more day in your life. We are what a roboticist would call as wetware constantly evolving and learning new things, never the same.

I am evolving everyday and learning new things, just like everyone else is. Gaining more knowledge, getting to know myself more and what my capabilities are. Pushing my limits just that little nudge every day.  My body runs on the basis of eat, sleep, eat repeat so the productivity extracted from my body is non-existential to say the least. The culprit for this is laziness, I wonder if everybody is faced with the battle against it or in my case being part of it in the battle against everyone. Just imagine, if only for a minute, everybody around you being practically lazy. What do I mean by this? Well here is a simple flow of how imaging this would be for me. Starting from the start of the starting of my day, the milkman being lazy leaves the milk on the road, then the person who distributes the newspapers being lazy, never gets around to getting up to deliver the newspaper. Then because my mother is lazy, she doesn’t wake me up so I in turn get up late, and because of not having any milk or morning news to read get even lazier to do anything else. So lazily, I reach the station and being lazy, the motorman arrives with the train 40 minutes late and as a consequence I reach college lazily. Now here starts the best part of my imagination, my teachers being lazy don’t give any assignments and my peers being too lazy don’t do any assignments thus I am not obligated to complete them either. Thus laziness, however catastrophic it may sound is lazily pleasurable. Don’t you think so? I hope you agree. Only if humans had the ability of the polar bear, being able to hibernate after the biggest feast it can have. Oh well I can only imagine how fun that would be. Another thing my imagination loves to conjure is the ability of floating in space through endless time, visiting various planets and their races and exploring the endless dark matter. I assume by now you think I am crazy, yes I am because if you aren’t crazy you can never defy what people think of you. Previously I had said that I don’t let people define who I am, that includes me. You can never define yourself or who you are even though you may believe that you can. We are boundless creatures, putting yourself in a box and having a sticker pasted on you saying who you are, may not work. As a personality or a consciousness we are always evolving, enhancing, and energizing ourselves and people around us.

 I am on the same boat as you; I am falling so I am taking my time on my ride. Cebause (read as because) after all we are equivocal beings and we all have to reach the same destination so I will enjoy my journey as much as possible.

Who am I?

Who am I?I believe that a person really comes to know who he they are and what they are capable of when put in a survival situation, a situation where the person has to use the best of their abilities to ensure their safety. Would one leave their morals, their beliefs, their dependence to see that no matter what happens, to the best of their abilities they survive?

I have been in a few survival situations and though I wouldn’t claim it was a situation where I came close to death but rather it was a dire situation. In such situations I came to know that I am a person who would waste no time discarding the niceties and switch to survival mode instantly. If I need to do stay without company, so be it. If I needed to swim across a river just to move ahead on my path? Then I would calculate the risks involved and plunge in. Who I am is a practical person, one who doesn’t like to sugar coat things. If I serve you shit ill tell it to your face, but if I serve you a dish that makes me worthy of a Michelin star ill tell you that its not a special dish and just something regular. Sometimes I make things that mean nothing and I like to people to define what it should mean. But other times I make things that have so much meaning to me, alas most of the time people don’t get what it truly means. Who I am is not who you are and that’s more than enough to let me be at peace. I don’t let people define me and I like to trail blaze my own paths as I don’t find much joy in following a path already taken. I don’t believe in survival of the fittest, everyone has a right to live in their own way. I am a designer and maker at heart, I have a few tools, and materials I can sit and make things all day everyday. I don’t have much drive, I prefer to be driven unfortunately life isn’t so kind so you got to do the things you should yourself.