Height of Patience



Smartphone Craze

According to a recent report, India has the third largest smartphone user base with close to 117 million subscribers, behind only to China and the US. While this figure looks big, it is still 10% of the overall population which means there is a lot of room for growth. In fact, the volume of smartphone subscribers in India grew by 55% last year which is the highest in the world.

When everyone around wants to own a smartphone, sometimes I wonder what if animals start to use one? What kind of models will they prefer? This crazy thought was the trigger for this cartoon.


Phones are Getting Smarter.. And People.. Dumber

Last Friday while driving back from work, I spotted a girl in teens walking on a busy sidewalk. She was constantly glued to her smartphone completely oblivious to the surroundings. Few seconds later she bumped into a light post and had a bad fall. Luckily, she fell on the sidewalk and not onto the main road which could have made things much worse.

Over the past couple of years, there have been multiple incidents reported in the media where people have been run over by vehicles not because of rash driving but as a result of sheer negligence of the victims. Most often the primary reason behind the negligence is smartphone addiction. The addiction is not only limited to those walking on roads but also to endless folks who refuse to give up on their smartphones while driving their cars or bikes.

Looks like our human brain with endless possibilities has been overpowered by one of its own creation that runs barely on 1 GB RAM, and the effect is clearly visible. You go to a restaurant and spot a family which has gathered to celebrate a special occasion, but all members are glued to their phones without having a word with each other. Long distance train travel which used to be so much fun in earlier days has lost its charm since travelers prefer to spend time with their phones than talking to fellow passengers. Young kids are spending too much time playing temple run and not doing any real running in the playgrounds.

Day by day the phones are getting smarter, but what about their owners? This topic got me thinking into putting together my next cartoon.


A Lesson in Life from a Street Urchin

Life in the city of Mumbai is difficult during Monsoons for the rich and the poor alike. While the potholes and congested roads don’t spare the rich, the poor and homeless suffer the most. Other than the city flyovers, they have very little option to escape the fury of rain god.

On my daily route to work, I cross a busy traffic signal under a flyover which becomes home to many homeless people during the monsoon season. The signal is flooded with many such people including small kids who sell things like flowers, balloons, toys, books etc while some choose to beg.

During one such rainy evening while returning from work, I was waiting at the signal when I noticed a small boy aged not more than 7 or 8 was selling flowers. Barefoot, completely drenched in rain and hopping from one pothole to another, he must have knocked on the windshield of more than 10 cars or so during the course of a minute, but did not manage to find a buyer. Being the father of a 7 year old who is fortunate enough to have a comfortable life, I was moved by the plight of the little kid. When he came to my car, I asked him the price for a bunch of roses. Handing me over a small bunch of red roses, he said it costs Rs 40. I handed him over a 100 rupee note and asked him to keep the change. He immediately said, “Ek ka Chalis hota hai, aap do aur le lo”. (Each bunch costs Rs 40, you take two more). Since I really did not need the flowers in the first place, I told him I don’t need more and again asked him to keep the change. By then the signal has turned green and I slowly started to accelerate. I again heard him shout “Ek ka challis hota hai, baki ka kaise rakh loon” (Each bunch costs Rs. 40, how can I keep the rest?). He started running and before I could roll up the glass completely and pick up speed, I sensed he put his hand inside the window and dropped something inside the car. I crossed the signal and stopped my car on the shoulder to check what he has dropped. I found two wet currency notes, Rs 50 and Rs 10 each.

A small kid of 7 years who does not have a shoe under his feet and a roof over his head taught me the biggest lesson in life that day. He taught me the meaning of honesty and integrity which no other teacher could have explained so well. Living in an environment where corruption rules over everything else, this little kid was like a ray of hope. I salute him for his honesty and integrity which he has maintained despite all odds. I tried to find him afterwards, but there was no sight of him. He is my role model and I hope he grows up to lead our country one day.

I think we all can do our bit of honesty without cribbing about our corrupt politicians only. Charity begins at home. At least I will do my bit from now on

a) If caught for traffic or parking violation, I will pay the fine and obtain a receipt without bribing the policeman

b) Won’t buy items without bill to avoid taxes

c) Carefully look at all other sources of income including bank interests etc and declare all income while filing taxes

d) Lastly, will try to sponsor a less fortunate kid’s education rather than giving money in temples

On a lighter note, when it comes to honesty and integrity, no one can beat our traffic cops. This sketch is dedicated to them


The Immortal …

Here comes the monsoon in its full glory. After welcoming the first week of heavy showers which not only brought respite to the sweltering heat but also gave glimmer of hope to the dwindling lake levels in the city, we are forced to welcome another unwanted guest. In fact it is not just one guest but an entire family running probably into millions. You probably guessed it right, I’m talking about potholes.

The city of Mumbai has a love and hate relationship with potholes. While over 99% of Mumbaikars hate potholes, the love is limited only to city municipal officials and contractors who I suppose make a killing out of under the table business from filling potholes. No sooner than a pothole is filled, it proudly reappears after couple of days adding to the woes of commuters. During the month of May, a city flyover was closed down for an entire month to do structural repairs which also included complete resurfacing of the road. The officials requested commuters to bear with the inconvenience for a better tomorrow. We patiently waited, but the better tomorrow became a victim of infant mortality. Barely after a month and with only 1 week of heavy showers, the road on that flyover looks no better than the surface of moon. Morning commuters have to struggle with 3 km long traffic jam just to cross this 100 meter flyover.

Many other toll roads in the city are even worse. I take a toll road to work every day and try to look at the brighter side thinking I am getting to experience a world class roller coaster by paying a small fraction. Not sure for how long I can keep doing that since it is very clear that by the end of the monsoon, the toll road would surely take its toll on my car. The city that contributes the most to the government coffers needs a much better treatment than this. We need roads that would not get washed away in just one heavy downpour.

I recall one incident from last year when a biker tripped over a pothole and died from head injury. After the incident was flashed all over the media, the pothole was promptly filled the very next day but all the adjoining potholes were left untouched. I travel on that route every single day and to my surprise, I noticed the filling survived the rest of the monsoon.

I wonder what would make them do a better job at filling potholes. May be they are waiting for one person to die in each pothole before it is filled properly. Our great leader Netaji Subhash Bose’s famous quote “Give me blood, I will give you freedom” needs a change in today’s context. One of today’s leaders needs to take up this cause “Give me blood, I will give you freedom from potholes”.

This topic fuels me with enough thoughts to sketch my next. Hope you like it. Many of my cartoons during this monsoon season will be dedicated to potholes.



His Only Hope !!!

Despite all the advances in technology that is supposed to make our lives simpler, we seem to live in a time that is busier than ever. In our constant struggle to balance work, life and relationships, we feel hard pressed for time at times. Living in a big city with daily commute on chocked roads further adds to the woes. At the end of the day, whatever time is left for loved ones, not sure that can be labeled as quality time unless our smartphones are switched off.

It’s not just the loved ones but the pets too who are vying for our attention. During my morning jogs, I get to see lots of people walking their pet dogs. From the pet’s perspective, I feel it is the quality time they expect to spend with their master which they don’t want to share with anyone else. They want the complete attention of their owner. These days I see most owners constantly glued to their smartphones while walking their dogs. The poor dog keeps looking at the owner with a sad face expecting at some point the owner will stop looking at the smartphone and focus on him, but sadly it never happens. The dog starts to think innovative, it listens to the conversation the owner is having on phone and tries to do everything possible to please its master. His only hope is one day his master will take him for a walk without a smartphone in his hand. I pray his hope gets fulfilled one day. On a lighter note, this got me thinking into putting together this small sketch.