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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

good sleep ~ poor and sleep merchants at Delhi

When do you hit bed daily ~ how long and how well do you sleep !! ~ it is close to 11 pm as I post this and perhaps this is not good for health !!!

Some of us  try to sleep as little as possible. There are so many things that seem more interesting or important than getting a few more hours of sleep, but just as exercise and nutrition are essential for optimal health and happiness, so is sleep. The quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your waking life, including your mental sharpness, productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality, and even your weight. Sleep isn’t exactly a time when your body and brain shut off.

Siesta - the one which all of us, especially Office goers would love is  the short nap taken early afternoon, often after a satisfying meal in the noon.  In villages in Tamilnadu, there would be the open sided roofed portion on the front of the house called ‘thinnai’ where people would dose after having a good satisfactory meal – this is considered a great relief especially when the weather is warm…..  there are some dishes like pongal which would make you drowse in the afternoon, especially if you are attending a lecture !!  At Royapettah, hear EA mall,  there are  many shops dealing with mattresses, pillows and other accessories that mankind requires for peaceful sleep in the stressful world…

The famous MGR film “Nadodi Mannan” [literally – the vagabond King] was released in 1958.  According to some reports the completed movie ran for around 5 hours; in between, many Editors changed and finally  the film  ran more than 3.5 hours as they feared that audience could go to sleep at such a length.  This song of Pattukkottai KalyanaSundaram was a great hit and used to blare in all platforms.  The song titled தூங்காதே தம்பிதூங்காதே…” is primarily an advice of not to sleep at wanton places and to be alert.  It says, those who sleep mindlessly will earn the sobriquet of ‘lazy / idle persons’ and lists out what and all those who slept at the decisive hour missed in life….true words of advice indeed.

If all the above is how a normal man struggle for sleep – here is something of how the poor suffer for sleep – reproduced from NY Times which in some ways is a tinted view of what perceive of our Nation.

When midnight approaches in Old Delhi and a thick, freezing fog settles over the city, the quilt-wallah Farukh Khan sits on his corner, watching the market for his services come to life. They shuffle up one by one, men desperate for sleep. The bicycle rickshaw pullers, peeling one of his 20-rupee, or 30-cent, quilts off a pile, fold their bodies into strange angles on the four-foot seats of their vehicles.

The day labourers curl their bodies on the frigid sidewalk, sometimes spooned against other men for warmth. Those who cannot afford to pay Mr. Khan build fires, out of plastic if necessary, and crouch over them, waiting for the night to be over.


Does any city have a more stratified sleep economy than wintertime Delhi?  The filmmaker Shaunak Sen, who spent two years researching the city’s sleep vendors for a documentary, “Cities of Sleep,” discovered a sprawling gray market that has taken shape around the city’s vast unmet need for shelter. In some places, it breeds what he calls a “sleep mafia, who controls who sleeps where, for how long, and what quality of sleep.”

The story of privatized sleep follows a familiar pattern in this city: After decades of uncontrolled growth, the city government’s inability to provide services like health care, water, transportation and security has given rise to thriving private industries, efficient enough to fulfill the needs of those who can pay. But shelter, given Delhi’s extremes of heat and cold, is often a matter of survival. The police report collecting more than 3,000 unidentifiable bodies from the streets every year, typically men whose health broke down after years living outdoors. Winter presents especially brutal choices to homeless labourers, who have no place to protect blankets from thieves in the daytime hours. Some try to hide them in the tops of trees.

The moral quandary of making this into a business is at the center of Mr. Sen’s film, which had its premiere at a Mumbai film festival in November. One of his subjects, Ranjit, takes a protective attitude toward his regular “sleepers,” as he calls them, allowing them to drift off to sleep watching Bollywood films for 10 rupees a night. Another, a hard-nosed businessman called Jamaal, increases his price to 50 rupees, from 30, when the temperature drops.  “Look, sleep is the most demanding master there is; no one can stop it when it has chosen to arrive,” Jamaal says in the film. “We were the first to recognize the sheer economic might of sleep.”

Like many of this city’s businesses, sleep vendors are both highly organized and officially nonexistent. In Mr. Khan’s neighborhood, four quilt vendors have divided the sidewalks and public spaces into quadrants, and when night falls, their customers arrange themselves into colonies of lumpy forms. Some have returned to the same spot every night for years. A cluster of “pavement dweller” deaths prompted India’s Supreme Court to rule in 2010 that the country’s large cities must provide shelter for 0.1 percent of the population.

It is the pathetic plight of poor – everyone having a sad story – there cannot be any happy story, for some with resources would not come to sleep at such places. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th Jan 2016

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