Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mumbai Mumbles: Lokpal - an unviable solution to a relevant problem

The Scams triggered
the anti-corruption
(This coming week- Lokpal bill would be discussed at the Parliament in New Delhi.  In Mumbai and elsewhere,  Team Anna and its supporters would take to the streets to push for another version.   Game on, folks. In this context, let us examine a different point of view on the anti-corruption issue and Lokpal.)

Tickle leads to giggle.   Torture leads to pain.  

Not sure if this was due to the mountainously large corruption scams - the 2G and the Common Wealth games or whether it was a rub-off the arab-spring-jasmine revolution against oppressive regimes in the Arab world- started it all, but India's fight against corruption is well on its way.  

After 60 years of independence, from an era of the 1940's when new countries were born and freed to the first decade of the new millenium, things have changed so much. 

India tried 40 years of dynastic socialism and 2 decades of socialistic capitalism.  Our journey as a republic remains an experiment.   But some tenets are evident.   Politicians are perceived corrupt and incorrigible,   judiciary - honest but bogged down by the volume of cases,  executive - higher and lower bureaucracy seemed mired in red tape and corruption,  and the people seemingly powerless.

Sustaining interest in the anti-corruption problem - the role of Team Anna

The CWG case investigation and trial has got sidelined, 2G has become a middle-page affair since the Jan - Feb of this year, but the focus is still on corruption.   The existing system - the CBI, the supreme court and the special courts would drive these.   In India, law works slowly.   Cases transcend beyond generations.   So it is natural to conclude that the investigation would consume at least a decade, to be optimistic.
Team Anna sustain interest of the
commoner on the anti-corruption issue

In this context, from December 2010, the efforts of Team Anna, which is called Indian Against Corruption, is commendable.  They have had the tenacity to engage a reluctant government, first on a one-to-one basis, and then stage a fast in the Ram-Lila Maidan when the Parliament is in session in August, and pushing for a sense of the House.  

Like all mass movements, it is important that people's emotions are synergized for a singular cause and Team Anna achieved this to a large extent.   The importance of this achievement should be noted from the fact that there is a sustained interest of the otherwise indifferent middle class - who votes, watches election results on TV and cribs for the rest of the year about the status of this country.   Fickle memories were resusticated every month. 

The biggest result of this achievement of getting people's sustained interest is that media was also focussed.  If people were interested, it meant higher TRP's.  So the issue was kept in the limelight through the year.   So anti-corruption was a focussed problem.

So what started as a tickle in December, had the government giggle.  In August it turned into a torture, and therefore painful to conclude the anti-corruption solution.

Corruption - fundamentals and the Lokpal solution

Corruption in India, is three pronged.  

First, the lower echelon - the one that the common man encounters normally.   The size of the transaction is piddly, but the volume of transaction is very high. Let us call this C2o business.  Corruption during transactions like application of passports, traffic violations which help people to circumvent simple rules, beat the system with a little ease, and the official makes a quick buck.  
More than 5000 such instances
happen in the Mumbai city everyday

Secondly, the larger ones involves higher officials and business.  These transactions are normally life changers for middle class people.  Let us call this C2O. School admissions and house purchases are large transactions - running into lakhs and even crores.  These are examples of the C2O business.

Thirdly, are the business and politician - which is the B2P business.  The scale of this is like mountainous and breath taking.   One stroke, the politician bags a multi-crore contract, and the business party gets the vital contract or preference during a selection process.   Corruption of this scale, cannot be done without political nexus.  The 2G and the CWG scams fall squarely under this category.

The suggestion from Team Anna, hence the people and hence the media is a single solution to all these problems - the Lokpal.  It is supposed to be an ombudsman, a super cop which can cover the entire country from the Class C -D bureaucracy to the Prime Minister.   

Why Lokpal is unviable?

The solution has 3 fundamental flaws.

First,dealing with volume:  in a city like Mumbai, there are atleast 10000 + traffic violations any given day.  Even assuming half of these were to be filled as a visit-to-court case, then it would be totally 3 Lakh cases in a month!

There are more than 30000 passport applications during last year (Source : MEA)) and about 20% of them were delayed beyond the stipuated time.  Imagine if even if these were paid through some touts, then we would be having 3000 individual FIRs, don't we?  

Secondly,  how sure are we that Lokpal won't itself be corrupt or prejudiced?   If every system in India was corrupt - then how come a new system fix?   After all, it would be the same people.    With Lokpal, we would be creating one more system of bureaucracy, with head to tail, different insignia, and power.

We already have CVC for bureaucracy,  impeachment by Parliament for judges and courts for politicians.   These are sufficient to manage themselves.  The checks and balances are adequate, only need to be well executed.

Trespassing into Parliament's supremacy
is dangerous
Thirdly, with the Lokpal, the privilege of Parliament as the supreme decision and law making body would diminish.  Every debate, every question, every bill and vote in the Parliament can be seen with a colored glass.  The courage to act by the elected representative will disappear. 

Already, in the Indian DNA, blame game is ingrained so deeply, that decision making is difficult - especially in the multi-party democracy environment.   If we are prejudiced against the Parliament and the Judiciary, then we will over a time also see Lokpal in the same color.


The Solution is re-align and revamp.  Learn from our success story of the Election Commission.
    CBI should report to Law Ministry
    and investigate/ prosecute all but
    anti-corruption laws
  • Make CBI report to Law Ministry, and prosecution Law Ministry responsibility for all scenarios except corruption
  • Make CVC independent, and powers to investigate  and prosecute corruption - all anti-corruption bureau's of Center should be part of CVC
  • State Vigilance Commissions with similar setup for the states
  • CVC to be appointed by a committee of CJI, Leader of Opposition and Prime Minister
  • SVC to be appointed by a committee of the Chief Justice of High Courty, Leader of Opposition of State Assembly and the Chief Minister of that state
  • Allow a nominal service fee for C2o -  but make the lower official and his supervisor accountable for liability for after -effects - this service fee should be paid against a receipt and money goes to the official
  • CVC should be made independent
    instead of creating a new Lokpal
  • Allow a nominal service fee for C2O.  This should also be paid against a receipt and accounted.
This way, the existing Anti-corruption wings of the central government should be integrated with the CVC and made independent.  This is not a new solution. 

Look at our Election Commission - the independence and the exercise of power wielded by the EC is a fine example of how we can make systems work.   We don't need Lokpal.

Finally, to those in Team Anna, their followers and patrons - a salute to all of you for sustaining the focus on the anti-corruption issue.

But the solution cannot be outside our existing systems.   The Solution lies in revamp, and not in reinventing.   We don't want a 5th pillar - Lokpal - which is an unviable solution to a relevant problem - corruption.

-The One

( Pics Courtesy Internet)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

North East Chronicles - 1: Out of the camp, you are a tramp

Sometimes, a 6 hour journey shows what you would not see in a life time.  Life in its reality - staring at your face.  And through the entire experience, you feel chills down your spine, and remember the feeling for a long, long time.   The entire speciality is the simplicity of the entire episode.

It was to be one of my regular weekend trips to Guwahati from Numaligarh.   The AC coach bus - about a decade ago, this was a luxury - push back, high pedestal, air-brake fitted buses - white in color, would have been a shock and awe for the normal traveller with a colored mind.

Well, I missed the tryst with it by 5 minutes - the pick up and drop from the refinery to the rendezvous point ran late.   I curse myself.   Reason:  Heavy rains.

There was no bus till 9 pm;  and there was no way that I was going to go back - I missed two inbound pick-ups going towards the factory, so technically I had exhausted that choice.  With a wet jute back-pack and outfit, I hopped on to the first 'kataara' that came the way. 

The twilight came rather early.  It was cloudy, and the rains hit the tin exterior of the 'kataara'.   The noise grew and so did the chill.   The windows and the roof leaked, and  a distinct mumble came out of the occupants of the dingy tempo.   

A kataara- throws a different perspective
of life
I hugged my leather coat closely to feel warmer.  My next seat was unoccupied.   After an hour went by.  

We had reached Bokaghat.   Few vegetable vendors got in, carrying with them empty baskets, but the smell of the day's sale permeated the air.  

I was seated  just behind the driver.A tall dark man crept into the seat near me.  This caricature was more than 6 feet, lanky, dark.  He was wearing a white half-sleeve and khaki trousers, with slippers.   He was holding on to a khahi 'jolna bag' - the typical cloth one with a long shoulder handle.  He crouched in his seat, and swept of the clinging water in his eye brows.   Not to say, he was drenched wet.   The smell of sweat and fear hung around him.

The conductor did his rounds and this guy thrust a 50 Rs note.   The conductor pursed his lips and returned the note and asked for change.   I gave the guy 5 ten rupee notes, and he mumbled a 'thanks' with a heavy South Indian accent and paid the conductor and got the ticket.   He then thrust the wet crushed 50 Rs note to me.

This kataara was to end its 3 hour journey ( the air bus would have taken only 2 , sigh!) at Samaguri.  Before that we were to pass through Kaziranga national park.   This is a nearly 17 km journey amidst tall trees on a well laid 2 lane road.   On either side of Kaziranga, are tea estates.  The entire stretch including this is a 20+ km stretch.   Towards the end of this journey one would see the mighty Brahmaputra, the lifeline of Assam.   

Whatever was left of the light quickly disappeared, and it grew darker beneath the tall trees covering the tea plantations.   It would be dark till the first lights of the town of Bagon appeared.   The bus rocked and rolled in the darkness.   The smell of rain, sweat and vegetables throw a cocktail of emotions in the bus.   The air was getting nippier.

The guy should have felt real cold, he cringed in his seat and pulled the jolna bag closer to him.   He started dozing - probably tiredness, cold and hunger was putting him to sleep.  He rolled his head around.  At a sharp turn, he woke up with a start.   He was panting and sweating - even in that wet cold, his sweat was visible.   He was awake till we were to reach Samaguri.

The journey across was uneventful as we passed the towns of Jakhalabanda and Misa and the home stretch towards Samaguri appeared.  All along, people speaking in sweet Assamese would get in and get out.  Every time the kataara would stop, our hero would look nervously around and put his head down below his shoulders.

The kataara reached Samaguri Bus stand.  We switched to another bus - a Swaraj Mazda 15 seater.   The guy followed me, and again sat next to me.   This was the first time he spoke.  In Hindi, he asked - 'aap kahaan jaa rahe hai?'.  I told him, and asked him where he was going.  He said he had to go to the Guwahati Railway station. 

Then with his bag by his side ( he had taken the window seat), he went off to sleep.  He looked like a tired, lost man;  but sleep hugged him with a blanket of darkness.   He snored in a peaceful sleep - occasionally brushing off mosquitoes, and turning and tossing in his sleep.   I was awake and lost in thought.   The conductor came and went.  I paid for both, as I did not want him to get up.    The rain had stopped.  

This journey , 12 years ago,
showed that life is not a perfect dream...
 The Mazda stopped at each bus-stop regularly.     The driver was playing a mix of Bhupen Hazarika and other Assamese folk.  People came and went.   Coo-coo- that is how people speak in this part of Assam. They sing Assamese than they speak.   It sounds like that the language is made from the Bamboo trees.  More on that later. 

When we reached Jagi Road, our friend was up and looked much better.   We disembarked from the Swaraj Mazda.   The journey was relatively uneventful.

We enquired about the journey from Jagi Road to Dispur.   There was a cacophonous group ahead, and we understood that they were from the conductors and chaporans, who were asking every passer-by to board the bus on Guwahati.

Once we got our seats identified, we had a mutka of chai. Our fella started talking.   He seemed at ease now.    This gentleman was a cook in the Army. His name was Selvarajan and had moved into this detachement about 5-6 months ago.

He told that he was coming from Digboi.   There apparently was a small army detachement in that area.   The captain wanted to get back to Delhi along with his family.   He wanted to our cook-soldier to get tickets for his journey, and send this guy out.  

If you have to come out of an Army post or camp, then apparently you have to sign an undertaking of absence and reporting within a particular period.  This guy was on a week's off.  

Secondly, it seems that one should be completely debriefed, and stripped of all Army colors, badges and insignia.   Assam, those days was a hostile territory for outsiders.  The separatists were on the attack and run.   It was guerrilla war in some sense.   The Army would do search-and-destroy based on tip-offs, the separatists would use this to entice the small groups of soldiers into traps.    Considering this, the guy had to travel incognito.

The fear was that if detected, the locals would inform the separatists, and this guy would be arrested, tortured and even killed.    So keep a low profile, look the bit.   Mix with the crowd.  Then pray.

A soldier on the guard
- tough life, distant land, own country
 We boarded the bus to Dispur.  Again our cook-soldier's guard was up.  He seldom spoke.   It was getting dark and cold. 

I caught a small nap, only to be awakened by the holloring of the conductor - he called out 'Dispur'.   I got down.   I could not bid bye because the cook-soldier had gone into a deep snoring slumber.  

The bus left leaving me staring at shops closing down after the Friday business.   Only booze and chai shops were open.   Moments later,as I walked towards my friend's house,  a wave of emotions hit me.  

Imagine,  as part of the army detachement unit, with gun in his hand,  he was a proper soldier.   The uniform and gun gave him identity and security in a distant land.  

Now, he was out, on his own, without the uniform and gun, shivering in cold and fear, unsure of what would happen to him, till he finishes his mission - getting tickets for his superior's family. Out of his camp, he was a tramp, literally.

I dont know whether our cook-soldier succeeded in his mission or not.     But what I know is that,  a perfect life is a distant dream...

- The One

( Pics from the Internet)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chronicles of the North-East... The Prologue...

Every life has its adventures.  And lot of memories cherished, and lessons learnt.   One becomes wiser and life becomes richer.    In the three and a half decades of my life,  there never has been a dull day.   I believe it is so for everyone of us.  Most of us dont have the time or inclination to tell our stories. 

Each life is a long story to tell.  A journey of countless breaths, which has unexpected twists and turns.   Out of them some chapters stand out, especially for their enriching experience, cherishable memories.

Such a chapter in my life happened around the turn of the millenium, or the death of the ninety's.

There was this 3 year period in which I had everything -  the ability to decide, the monies, freedom to do what I want,  the attitude to step out to seek an adventure, a happy affair in a distant land... there was nothing I could have asked for more.   Such was life, then.  

In 1995, I had moved to Kolkata for my first job.  I switched jobs in 1998.   This was my first proper IT job.  

Six months into the job, I had couple of options.   One was to move to New Jersey, for some IT helpdesk support, and another was to handle entire North-East for IT projects and customer support.   I had a pretty-young-thing close to me at work, then.   She chose to fly out to take the job in the Unites States!

North East India - a key chapter in the author's life

I should have chosen the first option easily and become some $-rich guy, like most of my college-mates     The decision was easy.  Money or power.   Power!!! Money was ok.   Did not feel the pinch.  

Assam and sisters were enticing.  Now, you could ask me - what sort of decision was that!   Well, that is topic for another day.  

If you had visited a group of criminals in a den, been chased by an elephant at 3 am in the night, experienced a 4 hour ride in an army jeep - with soldiers totting LMG's cocked and ready to fire,  seen a grenade blast at close quarters, visited a militant idealogue's home, been interrogated by a scared dispatch of soldiers,  travelled with somebody who feared for his life, heard the language of the flute, visited the North-Eastern command, lived on mash potato and half kg of rice for 3 days,  been asked for your passport in your own country,  walked over the clouds and seen rain beneath your feet, dealt with 100 pound bugs in your living room, suffered a blackout during a mid-day with so many people around and can't see you,  when a cyclone follows you with endless darkness and rain, and had the ride of your life in a broken omni for 9 hours, when you realize that in your own country you can be an alien ... then you would not regret the decision you take.  Post facto- an awesome story to tell.

The Chronicles of the North-East ( Wikipedia : Read about North East) takes one across from Kolkata to Guwahati, Lakwa, Jorhat, Numaligarh, Digboi in Assam, Shillong and Cherrapunji in Meghalaya, Agartala in Tripura, Darjeeling in West Bengal to Gangtok in Sikkim.  

One thing is sure, every story of this chapter is etched in the stone forever in memory.   There are no photographs to support.  The pics are straight out of my memory.   Words are all that I have.  

Wear your seat belts, this is gonna be one hell of a ride. 

-The One

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mumbai Mumbles : The busti burger - an assorted way of life in the northern suburbs...

Busti Burger - Mumbai North
From the top echelons of my building, the panoramic view of the Mumbai city is stunning in its grandeur.    You tend to feel that you can see the end of the world, but you realize that you can see only one part of this great city.  Ethereal view this!  

 The sun ceases fire early, leading to an early twilight these days - winter is setting in.  Grey shades of haze hide the sky-scrappers and voila!  this is a view on all sides.   Just below this daunting skyline, one can see dark brown patches covering the hill side.   Slowly this dark brown patch with a blue tarpauline topping spreads fast and this is how.

Busti Burger in the making
 As the rains disappeared, the tall grass and the shrubs have turned honey-brown in color and dry.   Fit to be burnt.  This patch is set afire during the nights.   By morning,  a strong haze envelopes the neighborhood.   A pungent smell hangs in the air.   The honey-brown grass is now smoke and ashes.   The area, now is fit to become a home.   

Dry grass burnt to clear a squatter settlement
The burnt grass is cleaned up.   Bricks and cement appear and in a week, a basic construct with a blue tarpaulin roof is complete.   Operation-apaharan is complete.   A new squatter settlement or shanty town is born.

This operation apaharan has been happening for ages.   People from the North and elsewhere have come to this great city to stay and strike livelihood.   Every migrant is looking for low entry barriers.   There are enough bandwagons to jump on.  Low skilled jobs, criminal, semi-legal, chores, adulteration, petty-shops, political business almost always need extra hands.  These extra hands need roofs.   Roofs which are easy to construct, occupy and then expand.   

Inside these constructs, which now are called or busti's, life is abuzz with glory and glamor.  Always some wheeling-dealing is happening.   The facade makes to shrink in disgust.  Inside, as we see in the papers, is sometimes palatial.   Air-conditioning, marble floors, direct-to-home television,  LCD TV's, fridges are a norm.  Electricity is free and the gas cylinder is typically smuggled.   
Burger by night - The glitz of the expressway

When you drive through the narrow lanes of these busti's, one can almost see that people are happy and busy.   Kids were shoes, ties and uniforms to school, and youngsters dressed in jeans.  At the same time, there is a sense that you are driving through alien territory.  If you were to bump someone in the car, you would be history.  

The northern suburb areas of the city stretching from Dahisar to Andheri-Santa Cruz has a typical demography.  The spoils of this part of Mumbai, in Independent India, has been divided between the powerful building communities like the Hiranandani's, Lokhandwala's, Thakur's, Raheja's, Lodha's and the bustis.  

You can see as you drive from the airport to Dahisar, along the Western Expressway, there would be a cluster of high-rise buildings surrounded by the bustis.   They look like a busti-burger or a slum-sandwich.  
Local Mahotsav - keep'em happy

And each of these bustis has strong party affiliation or a so-called non-profit trust.   These affiliates and trusts run the show literally - local contracts and governance.   These are strong vote banks, almost 70-odd lakh votes across Mumbai.   A huge influencing factor the politics of the local council to the country.   So they better be taken care off.  So the loose ends tie.  

Littany of shops - cosmetics,eateries, clothes
Every festival is celebrated in zest and fervor.  The politicos or the local influentials pump money to keep the folk happy and content.

One such event is the local mahotsav - mega festival.  Small fairs- melas, selling local eateries like vada-pav, bangle shops, fortune-tellers etc., dot these fairs.  Cheap clothes, embroidered and other-wise, giant wheels fitted with bright colored-tube lights,  fortune telling robots are all part of it.
Merry-go-rounds, giant wheels - play!

The busti folk dress as though there is tomorrow, and the men-folk preen their family around in pride.  The kids eat the rose-candy, and take a ride in the giant wheel.   At the backdrop of each stall, you can see the political sponsorship displayed.  

You enjoy, we speak - the realpolitik
A stage for an evening meeting - the bragging brigade arrives, and the microphones amplifies the voice of the local party speaker.  Empty plastic chairs lie scattered around and few uninterested by-standers clap for the heck of it.  

The school ground, where this mahotsav happens, is surrounded by high rises.   The evening walkers in their Nikes, do their rounds,  but they don't display emotions.  Their faces reflect years of this uneasy co-existence - of the skyrise and the shanty town, they are used to eating the busti-burger.  
Political air cover ?

As the evening wears on, the lights and noise of the mahotsav dies down.  The hawkers count their money and make their way back to their houses.  The families, happy with a day well spent and together,  hike in an overcrowded rickshaw and disappear.   Crushed tea-cups, smoke and embers remain.   Somebody's got to clean up, but that's for another day.

The lights in the high rises too go off, and the city goes into slumber.   The busti-burger is ready to be served for one more day...

-The One

Photos courtesy The One

Hole in the wall... The dilemma of the second air-con

These days split air conditioners are storming the market.  Split airconditioners make less noise and maintenance is relatively easy.  There are no need to modify window grills.  The indoor units of the split A/C's look cool, and blend well with most aesthetic designs.   

This festive season, the offers did become very attractive.  Brands like LG, Samsung have market volumes and hence offer good discounts.   The newer entrants like Lloyd or Videocon have set eyeball-catching- discounts to woo the likes of me.

One of those days in October, I walked into Vijay sales and bought a 1 ton Videocon split in lieu of the old Samsung window A/C.   The exchange made me poor by 10,000 Rs.

Our house, in Kandivili East does not have provision for Window A/C.  The building has strong usage codes.   Considering that we were not  used to staying in a rented house for a long time and not sure how long we will stay here, we decided not to riddle the walls with nail holes.   So all our portraits are either unpacked, or given off. 

The ready-made hole - using this could have cost me 9k!
The A/C arrived during the weekend.   We called the building electrician and the care-taker, and we tried to decide on the position of the indoor and outdoor unit.   Each room has a pre-drilled hole, for laying the copper pipes, and drain pipes .   The service areas to fix the outdoor units are pre-fixed and nothing could be done, said the building folks.   The math said it would be almost 23 feet of copper pipe! The technician drew up a quote of 9000 Rs!   For installing the 10000 Rs A/C!!   I packed the guy off and said will call later.

I SOS-ed my landlord in frustration. Couple of weekends later, he appeared along with his son-in-law who is in A/C distribution business.  After inspection,  they were handed over the 9000-Rs-quote and they were not amused.  I told them that it would be a permanent structure, and even after we moved, our successor could use.   They parried the request.

They finally came around, after half an hour of thought, and rescinded the no-hole policy and admitted that we could drill a hole near another service window, where all was ok.   But the electrical outlet - which could take a 6A load still had to be drawn.   This still awaits my action.

The unpacked second A/C
Frustrated at this condition, my family smartly shifted camp to my kid's study room, where we had installed the first air conditioner.   With better weather, the main bed room has become my office room.   And the birth-place for my blogs. ;)

And in this room, the new hole is yet to appear on the wall, and the new A/C still lays packed...

-The One

Pics Courtesy the One

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mumbai Mumbles:Toyota Tuk-tuks aka- the case of the missing car logo

The first thing you see when you travel around in the Mumbai city is disciplined traffic - well, by Indian standards.   In the past six months, when I used to travel in an auto, or by car, the traffic was much better than what I experienced in Kolkata, Bangalore or Chennai.  Lane discipline, relatively patient drivers and less honking.   Everybody gives allowance for traffic delays.   Or it is the sense of inevitability?

A little deep dive now.   Lesser two wheeler and small car traffic.  Every one advises the other to buy a small car - better mileage, better control in traffic, easy parking.   But all I can see in the city is that the traffic largely dominated by Corollas and City's.  Maruti's market share is not so visible.  

Look at those cars and you notice that there are no scratches - in the front or the back fender.  For a person who has spent most of his time in cities like Bangalore or Chennai, this is pleasant surprise.  The magnanimity of the auto-wallahs is a pleasant discovery.   Cars look new, especially with clean, freckle-less skin.

Then you discover something amiss.  It is actually hard to notice.   I noticed first in my colleague's car - A Honda city.  I used to hitch-hike with him to work during my initial days.

One day he drove his car for service. Once at the service counter, he made an unusual service request.  The Honda logo was missing.   He got it replaced for 8000 rupees.

Safe cars - missing logos!
And another friend, another day.  I was shopping for some furniture in the Malad west, and a friend helped me fish around the furniture shops in that area.  

When we were about to get out of the car ( a Skoda Fabia), we could see this guy hovering around with a small screw-driver in hand near the kerb.  My friend grew suspicious and said he would hang around.  For couple of hours, the stand-off continued.  I was hunting the furniture shops solo.  

When I returned, this friend told me that guys remove car logos and sell it to make a handsome buck.  

After that, you get used to swanky cars with unblemished looks - but with logos missing.  What I understood through subtle enquiries is that the Audi, Benz, Skoda, Volkswagen, Toyota, Honda logos make the rounds for a quick buck.  The Hyundai's and Maruti's are spared. 

Check the left size of the rick - Toyota Tuk-tuk!
Couple of weeks ago, I again saw my friend's Honda City go past me.   Swanky, but without the logo in the rear.  

My friend later told me - this is the fourth time it has gone missing, and he is not going to change it any more.

An unrelated event: today morning, when I was driving to work, I saw an auto rickshaw carrying a Toyota logo in its rear.  A difficult picture to click, but was worth the effort.  

You realize that there is a strange fetish for car logos in this city.

Welcome to the world of Toyota- Tuk-tuks!!!

-The One

Pics Courtesy Internet, The One

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hit, twice over...

Life - a journey of endless breaths, twists and turns... a journey which we don't know when would end; In this journey of countless days and nights, you get past those blips...blips that you savor, but could forget.   

Sun poured honey into my eyes
A morning ride in a friend's car - brought in one such blip.  Closed eyes to avert the blazing morning sun, mild head ache.   The music changed to the soft honey-dipped voice of the recent Late Jagjit Singh.  Between the closed eyes, the sun was playing with its yellow rays.  

What a great jugal-bundi of visual and aural senses!   It stayed for about 4-5 minutes, till the car turned a corner, and incidentally the player  also switched to a different song.  

Really, one could taste honey - the yellow, sweet, viscous liquid - through the visual-aural cocktail.   Insane, but true.  The fleeting moment, just came and went.

And one of these afternoons - after a sweaty, uneasy nap, walked into the shower.   The water was cool - the right type of cool -just cool enough.   The water enveloped the head and the face, and everything beneath.   What a feeling - a tactile explosion it was... and the secondary sense took over.  

A double assault on the senses - from the shower head...
The water tasted sweet, probably the sweetest at that point, so much that the gustatory sense was titillated.   The tactile explosion and the gustatory titillation combined for another heady cock-tail mix - deep breaths, savoring the moment - knowing very well that the sensation was temporary. 

The dual blip shows hit last week, twice over.   And before one knows, show is over.

Each time, when the temporary pleasures disappear, the cacophony of the daily life returns...

-The One

( Pic courtesy The One and Internet)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wacky-pedia ? Sh*t my kids ruined ...

Weird?  Wacky?  Annoying?  Laughing your guts out?  Kids can do wacky stuff.   Weird stuff - not for them.  Kids can have their own weird ways -  they can paint a kitten pink, rip a pillow apart and end up trying out things that they do - their curiosity is key to their learning and growth.  

Home Videos, with the advent of mobile cameras now, and cam-corders earlier - along with Video sharing sites like youtube or facebook have made it possible to share such whacky experiences.   One such video -  'Charlie bit me again, Ouch!',  apparently had more than 2 million hits and earned $100,000 in 3 years!  

The kids' acts - regularly part of shows like 'Funniest Home Videos' and now on dedicated sites like  are a rage.   Parents share and enjoy these wacko-kid acts.   Only that the cost of production of these sometimes can run into hundreds of bucks.

The news paper appearances on these wacko-kid acts, triggers a roll back my life to the early 80's- when I had my two cents of such wacky acts.   

Wacky pedia 1- The case of the Scent Rubber: (2nd Grade ,1981):

A scent 'rubber'
One fine afternoon - it was around lunch time.  Class was empty.   Those days, we used to be crazy about what we call as 'scent rubber ( eraser)'.   We used to proud of possessing one.   Stealing from a neighbour's pencil box was normal.   My father had bought me one, and from that morning, I guarded this white-and-grey rubber that smelled like a rose with all zealousness.
When every soul had left the class, I opened my box and smelled the rubber.   One deep inhale,  and in went the cylindrical shape into my nostrils.   My face turned blue, but I was calm.  When I walked out of my class, I was chided by my teachers and taken to the Principal's room.  My father was called.  He pedalled his Hercules bicycle for about 5 km from his office to our school.  When he reached, he was handed over a pale-and-breathless kid by the angry principal.  
My father took me to the nearby hospital. But none of us panicked.   The doctor walked in - I was given a glass of water to drink.  They made the edge of a napkin into a sharp knife like stuff, and tickled my other nostril.   I sneezed, and out flew the eraser like a missile.   My daddy would have had so much to share !!!
Wacky pedia - 2:  The Slate Burial ( 3rd Grade,1982)
Railway track
I remember this vaguely.   I did not know why I did it.  I could not explain then, and I can't now either.   I had a friend, who was a little slower  - well, he used to skip home work, and copy from me.  In those days, we used to write in graphite slates ( right from the Victoria era, I learn) with white chalk piece.   The slates were covered with wooden frames.
Once in a while, we both used to disappear from our houses for hours.  Father used to cycle around the neighbourhood to locate us.   We would end up being discovered under peepal tree or on the temple promenade,  even sometimes near the railway line at the end of our colony.  
On that day, typically sunny, we both walked past his house, my house and ended up climbing the mound from where we could see the railway track.   The gravel slid down the slope, and we made a mess of our uniforms while clawing our way up.
We used to enjoy the earth and the railway track shaking when the train used to come from a distance.   We spent about half an hour waving and shouting at at least couple of passing trains.   We counted the number of wagons attached to the engines and sneered if we missed one.  
A typical slate
It was time to do something wacky.   Out of the blue, we decided to bury our slates, and tell our parents that we had lost them somewhere.   We dug a foot deep hole, buried them, put some gravel over it and went home.   The sky was blue and sunny then, but we reached home almost near dusk - we had spent more than 3 hours there.  We never bothered that our parents would search for us.  
When we went home, we somehow managed to explain this wacky act away.   We were together in the same neighborhood for another six months, but I had a great laugh over it, whenever I remember.   I think, my friend, wherever he is, would also relive this moment.
There were some more wacky moments.   Such acts are buried in our memories and run in our mind like those short home videos.   We surely did have our own Wacky-pedia. And our parents would have thought 'sh*t my kids ruined'...

Only that,  Videocams, Internet and Youtube came couple of decades late.  

-The One

( Pics and Links courtesy Internet)
This article is in dedication to the innocent and wacky childhood behind everyone of us...