Thursday, May 07, 2009

Two rupees

What can you get for two rupees? A banana; a candy bar; a paracetamol; sometimes one drumstick and what else? Read on.

Yesterday I got into a BMTC bus and when the conductor approached, I gave him 10 Rs not knowing how much the ticket would cost. Those who have lived here can agree to this - one can never know how many different kinds of city buses we have here and
cost of ticket . Anyway, the conductor gave me 6 rupees back and moved on. First, I was surprised because I had never seen bus fare being this low and more so because the bus looked one of the new kinds (where the tickets are higher for no particular reason than that they look new and colorfully painted) And second he forgot (it's called benefit of the doubt) to give me the ticket.

So, I waited for him to return and mentioned that he forgot to issue me the ticket. He looked at me with disdain(!) and asked me (again) where I wanted to go, to which I replied. Guess what he did next? He snatched the 6 rupees from my half-clenched fist, put that in his bag, thrust 4 rupees in my hand and before I could blink, thrust a 6 rupees ticket in my hand. Now everything became clear to me.

It was an offer. Or to be precise - a deal. Integrity and conscience for 2 rupees. That one is hard to resist, no?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Make green while the sun shines

When we moved in to our own house in Hosur early last year, I and my wife were very excited for many reasons. One of the reasons was to be able to have a garden. Well, why wouldn't you be, when you have more than 250 sq ft just for this. So much was the excitement that we somehow wanted to stuff in three coconut trees, a pomegranate tree, a gooseberry, a sita tree (sugar apple/custard apple) along with two hibiscus and other vegetable plants like tomato, ridge gourd, finger (okra) etc..

Soon we found ourselves working in our future garden. To begin with, we had to remove all the stones, that were laid in the garden each weighing over 50 kilograms. We soon found that what lay beneath the stones was just sand with lot of building debris like broken bricks, concrete blocks, stones etc. We wouldn't have proper fertile soil before digging out the top one foot. Even though this slowed down our progress, it didn't deter us from going to the nursery and buying plants and seeds that we thought could have in our garden. To boost the growth, we added organic fertilizer and also compost in some pockets.

By the time we got rid of the paved stones, enough space and made the soil ready, there came the rainy season. And along with it came a period of 4-6 months where our new garden won't get sun light. Sounds weird? Well, this garden is adjacent to our two storied house on the northern side. And this means, the sun will be behind the house (wrt to the garden) for a good portion of the year. We realized we had a serious problem on our hand.

What shall we do? Obviously, we can't move the garden or the house. And of course, not the Sun. We thought of trying plants which don't need much sunlight, like radish. But that didn't work either. Then I came up with a brilliant idea - to mount a big convex mirror that will reflect sun light on to our garden. Of course this will have rotate as the sun goes about his path. Unfortunately, like most (of my) brilliant ideas, many questions were raised and soon it was left as impractical. But I still get tempted to steal one of those mirrors they have in parking lots when I have an opportunity.

Now, we are in March and the Sun God has finally turned his one eye on us; Or on our garden, to be more precise. Nowadays, the sun is right above the head, which means we are direct sun light on a considerable portion of the garden. The roses and Hibiscus are blooming and few baby tomatoes are gleaming. The goose berry is racing ahead (vertically, I mean) and the coconut tree is not far behind. And guess what - we get few visitors too - butterflies!

And so, we will make some green while the sun shines on us.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

News Mongers

And so, after more than 2 days, the Mumbai horror is over. Maharastra chief minister and almost all TV channels claimed the NSG's operation as a great success and all that bullshit. But let me ask you this - would you call it a success? I mean, didn't we lose nearly 200 lives, including 15 security forces just like that? Did we at any point think we won't be able to kill or capture those gunmen? Well, any man with a brain would have known that it was a matter of time and any man with a heart would have worried about losing lives to terrorists than anything else.

What really puts me off is the way the news channels behave - absolutely irresponsible. First of all, I felt they were utter nuisance to the security forces with their nagging questions. Or should I say like hungry monkeys in a banana plantation? How many more terrorists inside? Are you sure? How many more NSG commandos coming in? Sorry? 300 more? The commandos who finished the operation at Nariman house - are they going to Taj again? Really? Don't they need rest? Well, I guess, these men think they are as good as, if not better than, the people who were carrying out those dangerous operations. If they asked me, I would have said, why don't you just go inside and find out yourself.

Second, they helped the criminals by airing the whole operation. Insane, isn't it? All that the news channels want to make is money and name for their company. I used to think that these were responsible people who are here to serve their country and society. Well, you can hang me for making such a blunder. 

Just imagine this: In the final stages of the operation Black Thunder (wasn't that the name)  at Nariman house, one security person was trying to find if there were more gunmen from outside. I didn't quite understand what he was doing. He had a long pole with something attached at it's far end (perhaps a mirror) and placing at the window. And our smart reporter, as though had just won an Olympic medal, exclaimed, "These are live pictures coming to you, exclusively on our bloody channel. As you see, these men have to be extremely careful and ensure that no more gunmen are inside. These security men are experts and they use these stealth methods blah blah blah". Just imagine something like this, of course in a voice with an accent and not-so-good English. I only hope that I am not the first one to tell that bonehead that it wasn't a secret any more and that the whole world, including the terrorist network, knew that by then.

But let me tell you this. These people are really creative. How about their captions for instance? Mumbai on war or India's 9/11 or War over, for now. How about their tickers with the death toll and time since it started, just like a cricket update? How cool is that? How about their Breaking News? RDX found! No RDX found! RDX found! To these jokers, a rumour is as good as a news. I don't know if these blokes hold any special degree on journalism. But weren't they told that any responsible citizen, let alone a press person, must verify a news or rumour before spreading it? Such a shame, isn't it?

Oh, anyways, it will all be over in a day or two and the TV will get something else to chew about. And perhaps, we will forget soon too. These things have happened too many times to remember. And I am growing older as well. But what about those who suffered? Their lives have taken a severe  beating - just like that.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


... the decision has been made to ban smoking in all public places in India. Honestly, I am very very pleased with the decision. Sure, it is going to make the smokers' life difficult. But what matters is that those who have been passive smokers all along can breathe freely. I hope (in fact, I am pretty sure) that the smokers will find a way.

Now it will be interesting to see how well this is executed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Olympics - Not for India

Yet another Olympics but the story is same as far as India is concerned. As in the past, few (read one or two) pleasant surprises, few positives here and there and loads of disappointment. While all Indians were hoping for a good performance through some miracle, most of us knew that the reality would be completely different. Yes, there were over a billion prayers. But you see, god only helps he who truly deserves; he who puts an earnest effort.

Don't get me wrong here. I didn't mean to offend any of the folks who represented us in the Olympics. When I said effort, it's not the men who represented us in the Olympics. I meant 'us'. The country as a whole. I know the players gave what they possibly could have. However they were simply not in the same plane as the others who took the glory.

A lot has already been discussed and one big reason you would hear often is that we do not get high-quality facilities or experienced trainers. I would say that over the years we have come out of that. Somebody who spoke for Doordarshan during the Olympics was very disappointed with an athlete who had been training in the US with an experienced trainer. His disappointment was understandable partly because the athlete wasn't even close to his personal best at the Olympics. The point is, things definitely have changed. All these people going to Olympics do have coaches, physical trainers etc. So, what is my rationale? What answers have I got? Well, actually I have a bunch of questions for you.

  • How many of us have played some sports at a competitive level apart from Cricket?
  • We all dream and hope that the country produce good athletes. We even wonder why we have not produced many world-class athletes. But how many of us want our kids to be one of them?
  • How many of us went to a school where sports gets its due importance? Or how many of us have known or look for such schools for our children? How many schools don't have a proper playground these days?

So, have you figured out yet? Sports is only a theoretical form of entertainment for most of us. Be at any lunch with men and you will hear lot of English Premiere League or Formula One. And be prepared to hear hundreds of technical terms and advices for the players. However, it's anybody's guess whether they have played any of these at all. It doesn't cost much to sit in front of the television and learn the game. But to play? Remember the kid who got beaten or chided by his mom for coming home with bruises? After all we are the great Indians who never take the ugly-looking cheap plastic-cover off our mobile phones or the remote controls or the car seats. How can we possibly allow our kids to have a scar, for a silly game of football?

In the past few years, acaedmics (it's a different story that the 'study' offers no real value to the kids apart from money) has completely removed sports from our life. Well, what else can happen if the kids spend all their time with textbooks? Physical Training periods are given away to mathematics or physics or Chemistry. Holidays can be taken over by special classes. But to play? Don't even talk about it. Don't be surprised, it'll soon be a taboo.

Often we hear that we can't perform even though we have more than a billion people. But the truth is, only a very small portion get the exposure. And there is no guarantee that this bunch is the best or the most talented in the country. Result: They compete at a level that is much lower than what is possible; Lack of competition sets a very low standard.

This is worrying because it's a lot more than just an infrastructure thing. It's somehow gotten to our culture. It could be years for sports to become a part of our life, if at all it can happen. It might have been as easy to me to put it in a different way - like what India needs to do for a better Olympics show. However, I am not sure if there is 'the other end' of the tunnel. Pessimist me!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

When East meets West

A perfect blend of East and West - Sounds familiar? If it does, then you are probably one among the millions of (probably desperate) Indian men; Men who are looking for their better-half (many would settle for a better-quarter) over internet.

For those ignorant souls out there, this is the phrase you would find in almost all girls' profiles on Indian matrimonial websites. If you come across this, then you are to understand that the girl is educated, working, has a western appearance (western outfit, short/straightened/colored hair etc) and yet bound by Indian culture. But this is about how much I can say about the culture or westernization aspect, for I wouldn't know where the line is, if at all there is one. This is something that has been conveniently used by all parents to lure men or grooms' parents. Forgive me for using such a word, but I am quite confident that this is the idea with which the advertisers post their story.

Oh, just hold it there. An example alighting from an auto-rickshaw and walking our way; At a distance in a pretty decent western attire - a formal trouser and a shirt. Well, wait a second. The shirt seems just about long enough to reach the belt. And worse, she seems to be so conscious about the waistline being thrown open as she moves. In the course of few seconds, she tries to pull her shirt and cover her waist quite a few times, albeit unsuccessfully. Hmm...I am sure she knows the shirt is too short. As we just watched, we know that as well. And why not, she knows that we got to know what she already knew. (I have always wanted to use such a sentence, you see) So, what on earth is she trying to do? While you are trying to figure out, I would like to share two points that come to my mind.

1. Obviously, the girl was not comfortable with the dress. The girls I know site the comfort factor as the reason for turning western. But where is the comfort if she has to correct her dress every other second or if she just cannot move about freely? Or is it same as the few strands of hair left loosely meant just to fall on the forehead? Whatever it is, I hope many folks will agree that it's an unnecessary distraction.

2. She is trying to prove to the world and perhaps to herself what this generation parents are trying imbibe in our girls - that she is A perfect blend of East and West.

The rules:
It's okay to wear sleeveless. But be careful not to raise your hand, for you represent the Indian culture.
Short shirts/tops are fine too. But never show your waistline even if the shirt is not long enough, for if you did you will bring shame upon your culture.

So, you get the idea now, don't you?