Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Cost of panic - Gold bangle

An ECG was taken. The nurse carried the ECG report to the doctor. I was anxiously looking into the eyes of the doctor to extract some result of the report. After 3 mins (that seemed to be 3 years) of anticipation, he said that the heart beat was very high but the BP was normal. After another minute, he said that mother needs to be put on observation for a day in ICU. That's when the legs started shaking. The term ICU is really scary. Without much delay mom was asked to sit on a wheelchair and taken to ICU. The door of the ICU closed on our face as we stood outside.

After sometime a nurse came out with 2 plastic covers and a slip of paper. One cover had my mom's dress (She was asked to change to the hospital gown). The other cover had the bangles, mangalya, ear rings etc. The paper slip had the list of ornaments and the dress list with my mom's signature. We were in no mood to check as we had panicked too much. My dad put the jewels inside his pocket.

Every thing went well and after 2 days mom was discharged. As she came home and checked the jewels, she found 1 gold bangle missing. The paper slip also had a wrong entry (on less than the actual number). My mom had signed it without noticing. Understandably, she was also under tension. We promptly reported this to the hospital. But there was no case in favor of us. My mom had signed a slip which had wrong entry. And we (people standing outside) also did not know how many bangles my mom was wearing.
Yesterday, the hospital authorities said that they could not find the missing bangle, thus putting an end to the story.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bidappa , drugs and so on..

Prasad Bidappa, fashion designer from Bangalore was recently arrested in Dubai for carrying 1.6 gms of marijuana. Laws regarding drugs are very strict in Saudi and as a result of this, Bidappa is in the detention centre (call it prison) in Al Rashidiya district of Dubai.

Some Indian newspapers are somehow is trying to glorify this fellow....I don't understand for what are they doing it? Times carries some interview with some fashion guru who in someway tries to prove that Bidappa is not wrong. Bidappa's family say that he is ignorant and not a drug addict, somebody has shoved in some packet inside his baggage somehow. Bloody hell - stop this "something, somehow" stuff. One so called eminent person goes on to say that Bidappa was just unlucky to get caught. I would consider the statement as an insult to the law abiding Dubai police. If I was in the Dubai police dept and heard this statement, I would have showed how unlucky could unlucky be. It’s almost 2 weeks since Bidappa was caught red-handed. Sadly some diplomatic efforts will be on to get him out and he may get out too.

Drugs are common in the high society parties in India. This is not the first case of a high society person getting involved in drugs and stuff like that. But people get out scot-free in India. It's a lucky thing that Prasad was caught in Dubai. This should serve as a warning to all those film stars (who are known for having affection to narcotics) who frequent Saudi for their dance shows. India should bring in strict laws to curb narcotics.

Drugs are rampant in colleges too. I have interacted closely with some guys in my college who were regular on grass. As humans, they are no different from people like me(who don’t smoke or take drugs), but they are notorious when they are drugged. This could lead to disastrous situations like unsafe sex. That’s when they become a burden to the society and the society looks them differently and so they are driven to drugs again. The high society drug parties are different in some way, because people here take drugs as it is a matter of prestige for them. Whatever is the reason, its no secret that there is no advantage in any sense to take drugs! So why take drugs?

I can hear (rather love to hear) Prasad Bidappa screaming in pain at the Dubai police "Dammayya anthini....drugs thagolalla...BIDAPPA".

Monday, June 27, 2005

Small role

Friday, 24th June 2005 - 7am
Opposite to Nursing Home

Me and my brother-in-law were walking out of the hospital to take my scooter. An autorickshaw stopped and the driver ran towards the enterance of the hospital to grab a wheelchair. He asked our help to the old man in the auto to the wheel chair. As I tried to lift him up, I felt that the man aged about 65 was very heavy. I also figured out that the old man had froth coming out of his mouth. With all our strength we managed to put the old man on to the wheel chair. His wife, the old lady tried to help us. She also tried to set the old man's vaisti as it was coming off. The watch man by then summoned the hospital staff and off they took new patient in. The next thing I saw after my breakfast was that the old man had been moved to the ICU and his family were sitting outside the ICU waiting for some news from the doctors inside.

Saturday, 25th June 2005 - 2pm
Opposite to Nursing Home

As me and my dad were completeing the discharge formalities, there was a sudden burst in the number of people in the reception area. The old lady was being supported by 2 more ladies and all the 3 were crying. The others too seemed to just cried. Just then the hospital manager approached a gentleman and asked him (pretty loudly) "Can you get your own bedsheet?" The person's face indicated that he did not understand as the lady continued "to wrap the deadbody...we can provide it to you, but it will be charged on the bill". Yes, the old man was no more. I had a role to play during his last couple of days. As we moved out, I could not resist to see the deadbody being moved to a van.

Naming conventions...Fwd

Yahoo - The word was invented by Jonathan Swift and used in his book Gulliver's Travels. It represents a person who is repulsive in appearance and action and is barely human. Yahoo! founders Jerry Yang and David Filo selected the name because they considered themselves yahoos.

Xerox - The Greek root "xer" means dry. The inventor, Chestor Carlson, named his product Xerox as it was dry copying, markedly different from the then prevailing wet copying.

Sun Microsystems - Founded by four Stanford University buddies, Sun is the acronym for Stanford University Network.

Sony - From the Latin word 'sonus' meaning sound, and 'sonny' a slang used by Americans to refer to a bright youngster.

SAP - "Systems, Applications, Products in Data Processing", formed by four ex-IBM employees who used to work in the 'Systems/Applications/Projects' group of IBM.

Redhat - Company founder Marc Ewing was given the Cornell lacrosse team cap (with red and white stripes) while at college by his grandfather. He lost it and had to search for it desperately. The manual of the beta version of Red Hat Linux had an appeal to readers to return his Red Hat if found by anyone!

Oracle - Larry Ellison and Bob Oats were working on a consulting project for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The code name for the project was called Oracle (the CIA saw this as the system to give answers to all questions or something such).

Motorola - Founder Paul Galvin came up with this name when his company started manufacturing radios for cars. The popular radio company at the time was called Victrola.

Microsoft - It was coined by Bill Gates to represent the company that was devoted to MICROcomputer SOFTware. Originally christened Micro-Soft, the '-' was removed later on.

Lotus - Mitch Kapor got the name for his company from the lotus position or 'padmasana.' Kapor used to be a teacher of Transcendental Meditation of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Intel - Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore wanted to name their new company ' Moore Noyce' but that was already trademarked by a hotel chain, so they had to settle for an acronym of INTegrated ELectronics.

Hewlett-Packard - Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard tossed a coin to decide whether the company they founded would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett.

Hotmail - Founder Jack Smith got the idea of accessing email via the web from a computer anywhere in the world. When Sabeer Bhatia came up with the business plan for the mail service, he tried all kinds of names ending in 'mail' and finally settled for Hotmail as it included the letters "html" - the programming language used to write web pages. It was initially referred to as HoTMaiL with selective upper casings.

Google - The name started as a jockey boast about the amount of information the search-engine would be able to search. It was originally named 'Googol', a word for the number represented by 1 followed by 100 zeros. After founders - Stanford graduate students Sergey Brin and Larry Page presented their project to an angel investor, they received a cheque made out to 'Google

Cisco - The name is not an acronym but an abbreviation of San Francisco . The company's logo reflects its San Francisco name heritage. It represents a stylized Golden Gate Bridge.

Apple Computers - Favourite fruit of founder Steve Jobs. He was three months late in filing a name for the business, and he threatened to call his company Apple Computers if the other colleagues didn't suggest a better name by 5 o'clock .

Apache - It got its name because its founders got started by applying patches to code written for NCSA's httpd daemon. The result was 'A PAtCHy' server - thus, the name Apache.

Adobe - The name came from the river Adobe Creek that ran behind the house of founder John Warnock.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Modes and prices of transport

Mumbai was warm and humid when I went there sometime during the last couple of weeks. I took an early morning taxi to the airport from my home - courtesy my company. It was nice to sit and watch no traffic roads as the driver played some devotional music. Bangalore roads never looked so good in the recent past...We just cruised at 60-80 kmph.

After the routine checks, usual "Hi", plastic smiles from the mini clad airhostess and a smooth flight I was at Chattrapathi Shivaji International Airport at 8:30am. My destination in Mumbai was JW Marriott, Juhu. I decided to take the prepaid taxi. The price was a whopping 450 Rs. I thought the place was far off but to my surprise it hardly took 20 mins after passing through the signals.

After the meeting, it was time to catch the flight back home in the night. I asked the reception of the 5 star hotel, if they can drop me to the airport. The beautiful receptionist replied in an elegant and beautiful voice that they would charge 1200 Rs to drop me to the airport in an AC Toyota Corolla car. I almost said "Pagal hai kya...kisko chu**** bana rahe ho". But I resisted and walked out of the hotel. Just then I met another participant who was also with me during the meeting. He was traveling to Bangalore but knew Mumbai well. We decided to take an auto rickshaw to the airport. He had spent 250 Rs on the taxi in the morning from airport to hotel. This time I almost said "Mein chu**** ban gaya". The auto rickshaw had the jing jang speakers playing hit bollywood numbers. I also got to look around easily to see the busy people of this great city. At the airport as we got down from the rickshaw the meter read 3.30 Rs. I was wondering what it meant as my new friend gave a 50Rs note and got 17Rs back. Yes, multiply 3.3 by 10 and that’s the bill. The Mumbai metro would have got us near the airport for 7Rs. Oops...450, 250, 1200, 33 and 7 for the same distance in different modes. Of course this is to be expected.

I was back at home by 10:30pm in a company booked taxi. This time the driver played Radio city 91FM.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

This is politics!

JD(S) and Congress alliance in Karnataka is in doldrums. Reason being - Karnataka's deputy CM Siddaramiah who belongs to JD(S) may move to Congress. Why is this? This is the latest master stroke by the 'Gowda, Dharam Singh hate club'.

Dharam Singh is accused of being a puppet in the hands of JD(S) supremo Deve Gowda. Another allegation is that Deve Gowda is supporting his sons and not his party men. The key contention is the appointment of board presidents. JD(S) leaders (other than Gowda) have been pressurizing Mr. Singh to appoint the board presidents. But it has not been done. It is pending since about 1 year. This has left the aspirants with a bad taste. After the recent debacle of Congress in the recent by-polls (they lost Chamarajpet and Shimoga), the anti-Singh move in congress has gained momentum. Leaders have settled in Delhi talking to Sonia Maam since 15 days. Along with this Siddhu has also got some aspirations to become CM and that wont be possible if he remains in JD(S) because Gowda is against him and supports his sons. Along with Siddhu the other JD(S) leaders who have raised voices against Gowda may also join Congress and overthrow Dharam from the CM seat. Hmm!! Slightly complex isn’t it?

I am eagerly waiting for the next move from either group. The quick and dirty end to the recent political developments would be appointment of board presidents which could split the anti-Gowda camp and thus putting Siddhu on the back foot.
Politics never ceases to amaze me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Petrol bunk incident

About an year ago, I wrote a mail to my friends about an accident that happened to one of my relatives. This mail has been circulated all round and today I got it from somebody not known to me. I just wanted to publish it today on my blog.

This is a freak incident that happened last week. A young man and his 4 yr old son went to a petrol bunk near Lal bagh (Bangalore) to fill in petrol for his bike. The boy was sitting on the pillion behind him. The helper who fills petrol held the petrol gun upwards, and turned towards the meter to re-set the meter. As soon as the setting was done the petrol came out gushing out of the gun - due to some malfunction - (at least that's what they said) in full speed and splashed all over the 4 yr old boy and his father. Petrol entered the eyes of the boy. Immediately the boy was taken into the cleaning area and was showered in a water jet.They washed his eyes with lot of water. But the boy could not see anything.

The young man took the child to the hospital and immediately the hospital authorities put him in ICU. The kid was then transferred to Vittala Netralaya and after 2 days of treatment he got some vision again. Now he is alright and is at home. The doctors told that just because the water cleaning was done immediately, he has vision today otherwise the boy would have been blind by now. Petrol (along with impurities) can burn the tissues inside the eye. Now why am I writing this?

Please take some precautions next time you are at a petrol bunk.

1. If the engine was in running condition, this could have caused a major fire. So Switch off the engine in bunks.
2. Drop small kids and the person sitting behind you outside the bunk and fill in petrol. Kids are more sensitive than grown ups.
3. Ask the petrol bunk helper boy to hold the gun down. Even if there is such an accident let the petrol flow down and not on your face.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Catch me on the run

I am a mobile phone holder from Saturday. Yes, I bought a new mobile phone and got a connection activated. After lot of mailing and calling call centers, I decided to take a BSNL CellOne connection. To select the mobile phone, I hopped into 2 shops and I hope that I got it at the cheapest price.

The mobile model is Samsung SGH-230. The mobile model is so new that even the samsung website does not carry any information about it. But I can share the features it has. MMS, GPRS, 30 channel FM radio, no speaker phone, 65 colour display and polyphonic ring tones. But the key is the weight of the mobile - just 70 gms. The size is also very small and my friend calls it 'Pocket dynamo'. The cost of the mobile phone was 5600/- with a one year theft insurance.

I went for the BSNL pre-paid offering - CellOne. The SIM card was got by my brother-in-law and his experience with BSNL has been good. Hutch does not have good connectivity. Airtel is slightly expensive. Spice is not wide spread. BSNL rates over these in all 3 counts. Outgoing calls to mobile is 90 paise, SMS-60 paise, Outgoing calls to land line within Karnataka is 1.20 rupees and outside the state is 2 Rs. More importantly the signal is good even in my native village.

I am feeding the numbers of friends and relatives and yet to experience all the features.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Tinkle comic

Yesterday night, just before i went to sleep my mother had an unusal task for me. She asked me to look into a bundle of books used during my childhood. She had planned to give the textbooks with nice pictures to some students near my house. As I opened the bundle and my childhood memories flashed up. Reason - The tinkle comic...
Tinkle was subscribed and out newspaper delivery boy used to put it once a week along with the paper. That day 3 of us (me and my 2 sisters) used to run to collect the paper as soon as the 'phat' sound of newspaper hitting the cement flooring outside came. The successful champion used to keep the comic on the lap during breakfast, act as reading it making the 2 others envious. So funny!!

The comic still is being published and the stories are still alive in my memory. The characters Supandi, Hodja, Shikari Shambu, Kalia were simply superb. Kalia always saved the 2 bunnies from the villain - the fox. Shikari Shambu always ended up with a shikar - the Tiger. If you want to fool somebody, the best person is Supandi - the Bakra. If you think you are smart and want to show it off, talk to Nasruddin Hodja...You will endup being a fool.
Thanks to uncle Pai for creating the comic. Last year Tinkle released it's 500th issue. Way to go!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Free car parking

This is a true incident and happened with a friend of mine.
One Sunday morning my friend’s wife took her father’s car (Hyundai santro) for a drive. She was still learning and not very proficient in driving. She drove for some distance smoothly. Her confidence increased and she thought she was a very good driver. She drove to a busy market area. Seeing the traffic and the haphazard movement of people, she got a bit tensed. The tension reached the peak at a turning where the engine went off. Her frantic efforts to start and manipulate the car out of the self created traffic jam did not yield any result. With tears in eyes, she applied hand brakes, got out of the car, ran towards an auto, asked the driver to drop at her home - all in a single breath, thus leaving the car in the center of a busy road.
Her father returned after sometime to the place where the car had been left alone to get abused and shamefully manipulated the car out of the jam.
What can one say? Silly!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Tall men woes

My height is 5ft 11 inches. I mean I am really tall in south Indian standards!! But the world around me is not made for tall people. When I stand in the BMTC buses, my head hits the roof and the holding rods. During humps, I am sure of a bang. When I drive cars like Maruti 800, I find it difficult to adjust my leg position. My grand parents’ house doors are just too small for me. I need to bend more than a foot to get in. On a recent team outing, I got the last seat and the speakers in the Mazda kept knocking me down. I go to a shoe shop and find limited designs to fit me. In classrooms I need to slide down my chair to utter a whisper to the guy sitting next to me.
I mean these are not easy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

This day that year

I joined this industry from college on June 14, 1999 (exactly six years ago). I remember the first few days, when we underwent training and lots of fun during training. We were fresh from college and so the college habits hadn’t died yet. After 6 long years, I still feel I am fresh from college. That's the good thing about this industry. No dearth of fresh blood.
I have survived the crashes and raises of the industry and sailed smooth. Hope to continue the sail in the same smooth way.

Try a "single number"

Sudoku is the new craze for me.
It is a number game which i got hold of in the newspaper - times of india. I spend my time in the cab and some time just before sleep on this. After a few games, I thought of looking into it's origin and found this interesting stuff. Sudoku in Japanese means single number. It has been interesting so far and I think I should learn some tricks to tackle the puzzle fast. I take a couple or more puzzle printout and sometimes distribute among the guys in the cab. There are lots of sites which provide the game. In India, this is getting popular after Hindustan times started publishing it on May 25th 2005. This was followed by Hindu and TOI.
Try this game!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Emotional send-off

We got a new pressure cooker at my home. It was an exchange offer. We exchanged our 37 year old(!) cooker for this new one. It was a wedding present for my parents. It was used by us almost daily. The only thing we changed was the gasket and once or twice the safety valve. Then why did we change? Recently the handle broke off. The inside screw was rusted. We could not remove the screw and replace it with a new handle. (A proper technican could have replaced it. But we did not approach anybody.) The base had become convex and so it was risky to use it anymore.

My mom and dad are very impressed by the company TTK which was the maker of our old cooker. So we went for it again. The cooker had served us dutifully and it was a close to heart gift for my mom. The original value of the cooker was 27 Rs itseems. For the exchange it gave us 330 Rs.

PM on Siachen glacier

Manmohan Singh became the first Indian Prime minister to goto Siachen Glacier. So what? This was the question asked by a friend of mine during tea talk.
It is really a important milestone. Siachen is the world's highest battle ground. India is pumping in around 20 crore Rs per day to hold on to the strategic point in the Himalayas. Pakistan have always got an eye on this point and constantly attack us here (when in war or not). That's the sort of importance of Siachen.
I saw a photo of Mr Singh in siachen in one of the English dialies. Behind him was a tent which had the following written on it.

"This land is so barren and so high that only the best of friends and the fiercest of enemies would visit us" - Ladhaki saying.

Yes, the conditions here are horrible. Still soldiers stay there and fight for us. What is the inspiration for the guys who are already there and who are to be posted there? If dignitories like the PM of India visit them, the morale of the army goes up. They would feel respected and recognised to have the PM with them. This would also show that Indians have not just posted them there, but really care for them.
Or President had been there a few days ago. He is 70+ years old. Former defence minister George Fernandes was a regular visitor to the glacier. He is also 70+ yrs old. It is really difficult to breathe there for a normal middle aged guy. Manmohan is 73 yrs old and had an open heart surgery. When such a old person visits them it is really honour for them. This will inspire them.
More visits by more ministers should be conducted.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Educated suffer in rural area

I am looking into the aspect of rural and urban development in India. I was talking about some comparisons about farmer sufferings. There was an argument from a friend that it is only based on farmers I have come to a conclusion that rural India has not developed as fast as urban India. Then I remembered this talk which I had with my cousin.

My cousin is a gynecologist. She has now started a clinic in my home town. I was talking to her about the set up cost etc. The scanning machine costs around 8 lakh Rs (the cost is the same even if it is bought in Bangalore). The consultation fee there is 20-50 Rs only. In Bangalore, it is 150-250 Rs only. The number of scans conducted here in Bangalore on a normal pregnant lady during her pregnancy is 4. This is actually not required unless the doctor sees something wrong with the baby or the mother. But people here are ready to bear the cost. In my home town the doctor can scan twice only. The people are not rich to pay for more scans. The scan charges are also almost 50% of what it is in Bangalore. The cost of the equipments is the same. The only thing that it cheap for the doctor there is the rent for the clinic. The competition is relatively less but the population is less as well.

When this is the case, how many doctors would like to settle in a rural area? When will they settle down their loans of education and infrastructure?

The cost of education, the cost of equipments etc are the same, but the income they are going to get is far less than what they could earn in cities.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Simply blog madi

In the past 2-3 weeks, I have read, spoken and written mails about why people write blogs. 2 friends have started blogging but they are not very active.
One of them started to improve his English writing skills. One other friend of mine tries to improve her blogs and has started making some visual changes. She also asked for some suggestions on that. Another popular blogger gives sometips on how to improve the blogging and increase the viewer interest. I read an interesting blog on the life cyle of a blogger. There are magazines which talk about blogging and the trend of blogging is catching up.

Why do people write blogs?
My idea is to pur out whatever u feel like. Ofcourse this hould be within leagal limits. Whatever could be a guy sharing his sexual experience or a lady sharing her cycle experience. May be it's awkward for readers. But the blog for his\her satisfcation not for the readers satisfaction. Websters defines a blog as "to author an online diary or chronology of thoughts". Often the blog reflects a person's thinking and the his\her character.

But why should one break head about all these? Simply blog madi...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

"D"...easily avoidable

The much awaited Verma movie did come out on Friday and I did make it a point to watch it. The movie is a big let down. The reviews had told that it is a racy\pacy movie and the story takes twists and turns which makes you sit on the edge of the seat. Don't belive any of those.

The movie is slow, the story is predictable, the one liners are not very catchy and the shots are copied. For the guys who have seen "Sathya" and "Company", this movie is totally out of place. The scenes are a mixture of some Sathya shots and some Compnay shots. There is Chuny Pandey like Manoj Bajpai. There is a Deshu like Sathya. There are politicians who play wicked roles and there are people inside the gang who work against the gang. Bullets fly like mosquitoes in Bangalore drains. Songs like the Golimar Beje mein do exist where Chunky dances and pours beer all over his body. The so called prequel to Company does'nt stand anywhere close to the super duper Company.

As I mentioned, the story is predictable. A small guy is tortured by police and takes to rowdism and then becomes the don of Mumbai. The end of the movie is the start of Company.

Upendra's "Om", the Kannada thriller\don movie is still the best movie of that category.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Agriculture suffers

In my native place, the main crops are paddy and coconut. In the spare time the crop is some dal and ground nuts.
From the past 4-5yrs, the variety of rice which i consume at home has costed me something around 18-20rs a kilo. Coconut costs something between 6-10 Rs.
This is good...thanks to all the treaties signed by the government and import of grains and some such stuff...Prices are under control, infaltion is less, food is available to a lot more people.

What does this mean to a paddy farmer?
From past 4-5 yrs the income for rice farmers has remained almost constant but expenses have increased. Everything has gone dearer. Power, water, petrol, lpg, education etc. He has to have these aswell.
Cocounut trees all over karnataka have been infected by some disease called as "nusi roga". The result - the size of coconuts have reduced and the number of coconuts per tree have reduced too.

How can the poor farmer survive?
This is the harsh truth of my village.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Yeh hai Mumbai meri jaan...

Last August I had been to Mumbai on some official work. This Monday I may have to go again for a similar work. During August 2004, I had not started blogging and so had written a mail to my friends about my experiences. Now I am publishing the mail here.

A few days back, I had been to Mumbai for a couple of days on an official tour. Though this was not my first visit to Mumbai, this was the first time I got a real good look at some very important parts of this great city.
I along with my 2 friends left B’lore in a night flight to Mumbai. When we landed the hotel cab took us on a 2 minutes drive to the hotel where arrangements had been made for our stay. This is in a place called Ville parle. Next morning we were supposed to travel some 20+ kms to a place called Sewree.

The first surprising fact I observed in Mumbai when I landed, was the amazing number of “Fiat Padmini” cars used as taxis. All of them had “Panvel, Bhayander, New Mumbai” written on the back shield in different styles. I think the company “Fiat” if they are making “Padmini” then it’s only for Mumbai taxiwalas! Though of late there are Tata Indicabs used as blue taxis I heard. I had a similar experience in Delhi. When the bike population is so rapidly increasing in cities like B’lore, Chennai etc, Delhi has a very large number of Bajaj scooters! So Bajaj-Scooters:Delhi::Fiat-Padmini:Mumbai.

Morning we left the hotel in a cab to our destination (Sewree). The next thing that struck us was the pathetic state of roads in the very heart of business of India. The cab driver told us that in summer the corporation gets the road tarred, but the tarring is so good(rather the monsoon is so good) that the monsoons takes away the tar too. Yeah, politicians and contractors also need to survive right! But there are some good roads in some places. These are concrete roads, which are quite smooth without potholes. May be most of you have read jokes about the Mumbai potholes in magazines like “India Today” and “The week”.

As the discussions on roads were going on, we suddenly started getting horrible smells. We had entered “Dharavi”, Asia’s largest slum. The scenes I saw there are a disgrace to any city or nation. As we just finish celebrating 57th ID, it’s really pathetic to see what we have done (rather what we have not done) to some set of people. I try to describe what we saw.
There is a double road (road is partitioned) along which we are moving. On either side of the road is “Dharavi”. The traffic was slow moving for 2 reasons.
1. It was peak hour.
2. Tough the road was wide, half or at least 1/3 of the road cannot be traveled on. Why?
There are no footpaths existing as footpath. Small huts\houses are built all along the so called footpaths. Each hut has the area of approximately the area of an asbestos sheet i.e. approx 5ft * 2.5ft. The walls of the huts are again asbestos or sometimes some unstructured brick arrangement. The openings (call them windows) are covered by plastic covers with Govinda, Amitabh bachan etc on them. The bigger opening which looked like a door had a tarpaulin hanging (the ones you can see on trucks). The driver (by chance he was a Kannadiga from Udupi!!) said that such a house shelters a couple with a kid and sometimes parents and siblings i.e. 4 to 5 people. Such huts could be seen till where we could see. In-between we could see 1 storied and 2 storied cement brick structures mostly of the same size (asbestos sheet size) each. There were small uneven gullies (paths, they looked very slippery because of the rains) which people used to commute from the interior huts to the road. May be the scene from “Agneepath” where the villain has kidnapped AB’s sister is taken in this slum, though that scene had lots of multistoried huts. There are chai sellers, barbers, and small traders all along the road partition itself, doing their business.
Coming back to the footpath huts, how do people manage to have a decent living in such huts?
In B’lore, if you have been to (or seen) some slums, there is some free place near the slum for people to attend nature calls. Or at least they have railway tracks near by! But in a city like Mumbai, though there are lots of railway tracks, there is no free space. And there are beaches which cannot be used during rains. In the Dharavi area we passed, there was no railway line, nor a beach. Now comes the explanation for the smell and unusable 1/3 portion of the road. Road is their toilet, bathroom, washing machine etc. We could see kids and adults attending to the nature calls/taking bath/washing utensils/washing clothes on the road in front of the slow moving traffic at 8am without much hiding or covering. This is shocking and horrible but it’s a bloody fact. As it was rainy season, nature cleans the human dirt but we were wondering what happens in summer. The driver explained us that the people there are not necessarily that poor, but there is a major space problem. In-fact, that’s the origin of slums. Real estate prices are really very high in Mumbai. Not everybody can afford to stay in very decent localities. Relatively the prices in Dharavi are less. He added that this is a heaven for mafia for their all kinds of “Dhandha”, as obviously its difficult for the police to enter and conduct any sort of operation in the slum. As we moved on, we got to see such footpath huts in many other places. People used roads as washing machines in lot of places. It was a real pathetic sight. It’s a “Shame”. Interestingly “Dharavi” was shown to Prince Charles when he visited India, as if it’s a matter of “Pride” to have the biggest slum. Hail the authorities.

When we were kids, if another kid was seen in undergarments in school or somewhere else we used to say “Shame Shame puppy shame, all the donkeys know your name” (of course without realizing that we were calling ourselves donkey). But today not just showing of the undergarments, but showing of the ugly butt cleavage is not a “Shame”, but it’s a matter of “Pride” the name of fashion for the so called forward people. And the same thing shown on the roads of Dharavi by the poor still is a “Shame”. There’s a thin line between “Shame” and “Pride” and that in this case is money.

At one place we passed parallel to a railway track. This was the time when we saw the local metro rail filled with passengers chugging along. The driver asked us to travel in the local train at least once to see the hectic Mumbaikars. An interesting stuff the driver shared was that of a formation of a user group by people who used too travel regularly in the coach. This user group talks to business houses to sponsor some short plays to be staged inside the trains on some social causes. This has encouraged theatre groups in the cinema crazy city. Everybody would have read about the kind of things that happen in those coaches. Generally the media highlights the bad stuff, but this good example was never highlighted.

Another thing noticed was the great number of so called B and C grade movie posters all around the city. I don’t think these films will the darkness of any Bangalore theatre even without this 7 week delay.

In the evening, we had a dinner appointment with a family who were related to one of the guys who was with us. Because it was very near to the hotel we stayed, we walked to their house. The lady of the house stayed in Bangalore for some 15+ years and has moved to Mumbai after her marriage. The house was small, 1BHK. They have a kid. I was surprised to see such a beautiful arrangement in such a small house. Not a sq foot was wasted in the house. The walls were decorated with paintings but also with newspaper! Yes, why waste space on the floor to keep newspaper\magazines etc, put a hanging to hold such stuff. Footwear was kept in the drawer attached below the sofa. Fridge was kept on an elevated stand, so that the space below it could be used, and one need not bend to take articles out of the fridge. May be the lady could see me observing the space utilization. She told us that coming from Bangalore and adjusting to such small space was difficult at first but now they have settled down well. She brought a container from the kitchen and showed how she could manage in such small kitchens. One single container had some 3 varieties of dal in different plastic covers. In Bangalore, she said we have space and so we waste space. I realized that we at our home had the same quantity of dal in 3 containers wasting not only space inside the container but also the space for 2 additional containers. But then we have space. The dining table was a collapsible door of the shelf in the kitchen. When down it’s a table else it is covering for the materials stored in the shelf. It was another space saving measure. We had a nice meal with vada pav. She said that she misses the leisurely walk in a park, weekend outings to scenic places, the climate which all of us and her friends in Blore enjoy.

The next day was more hectic than expected and we could not go to Juhu, Coloba, new Mumbai or choupati. So we could not see the posher localities of Mumbai nor could we visit any beach. So to a Mumbaikar, I haven’t seen Mumbai.
But to me I saw the Mumbai which most people hate to see.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Chamarajpet and Shimoga elections

Karnataka is in election fever again. Chamarajpet and Shimoga are going for polls tomorrow. The reasons for them going to polls twice in a span of 1.3 years are very unusual. SM Krishna who won the Chamrajapet assembly seat was posted as the governor of Maharashtra and had to vacate the post. Bangarappa, ex BJP MP of Shimoga quit BJP and has joined Samajavadi party. This resulted in the re-election for the lok sabha seat.

Chamarajapet - This is a unique constituency in terms of the composition. The area has lot of old Mysorians and is considered as a kannada belt. This would also mean that the upper caste population is high. But the constituency includes KR Market, where the Muslim population is very high. Traditionally people here have voted for BJP or Congress. This time both these parties have to face a 3rd front in JD(S). Congress and BJP have experienced candidates in Devaraj and Pramila Nesargi. Both of them have tasted victory and defeat. Their opponent would be JD(S)'s Zamir Khan. This new entrant is supposed to take some Muslim votes from the market area. Zamir Khan is also relying on the votes from slums after his party chief's (Deve Gowda) hugely popular 'Daridra Narayana samavesha'. But what could turn against the Congress and JD(S) is the anti-government sentiments prevailing in Bangalore. The rest rains and the havoc caused because of it have not helped the ruling combination in any way. Samajavadi party has also fielded a muslim. He is not expected to get back the deposit. With JD(S) and congress splitting the muslim vote BJP have their chances bright. Although the BJP have nothing to boast of after their rout in the center, they seem to be the inevitable choice.

Shimoga - This is an issueless election in shimoga. Bangarappa won in the BJP ticket last time, but to his shock BJP could not come to power in Karnataka and in the center. So his aspirations of becoming the CM or a minister in the center were watered off. Bangari was not even given the BJP chief post in Karnataka. He quit the party and joined Mulayam's samajavadi party. Opposition has termed him as a party hopper and that’s their only point against him. BJP could not field a strong candidate against him and so the battle is between him and Ayanur Manjunath of Congress. The ex-CM looks to be heading for Delhi again.

The result will definitely show a direction for the present Karnataka government. If they win, then they would treat that they are on the right track. If they loose its time for them to correct themselves.