Thursday, August 14, 2008

On the Road in Bangalore – Version II

I know, I know. I wrote a similar post a while back. However, if you need a different perspective, I suggest you undertake this journey. It’s literally an eye opener.

The day started on a high note. Chiya started saying OK instead of her normal “nahi” (No, for the uninitiated in the Hindi Language) this morning.

A Unisex Parlor had this hilarious signage outside.........Facial, massage, shave, ladies hair cutting, gents hair cutting, baby cutting (Huh! What was that again?).

Why am I surprised? During my last job, every day on my way back from office this thelawala was proudly selling Gobi Mangurian to unsuspecting victims!

Then the day deteriorated. I stopped at a traffic signal. Saw a guy selling flags (he was from a minority community whose patriotism is often questioned in these difficult times) and proudly lowered my window to buy some - one for the house, one for my car, one for Rashmi’s car, but not if they cost more than 20Rs a piece, see how we set a limit to our patriotism – when thak-thak – (incidentally, thak-thak reads as think tank on my MS Word dictionary and there is a meaning to that as well) someone knocked on the other window – one of those numerous beggars who run an alternate economy on each traffic signal in the city – a woman, no less (at least one job where women are being given better than equal opportunity in this country) and let me be honest, my first shameless thought was – there goes a clean, disinfected window. That was before I noticed the child – maybe 4 yrs old, ordinary, just like hundreds of others roaming the streets, conceived precisely to do this job, in a country which guarantees education as a fundamental right to all children of the age of 6 to 14 years, and I don’t think his luck was going to change in 2 yrs time, for him to claim his legal rights. In principle, right or wrong, I don’t support begging, not that I do anything else about it either, so I shooed them away and watched that child limp away (yes, he was limping and I could make out that one of his nails was sticking out of his toe – accident? Perhaps), till the signal turned green. Green happens to be one of the most significant colors in our national flag and it provided me my escape route.

I did not buy the flag. It cost less than my 20 Rs patriotism limit. I was wondering what that child, who will not be set free, ever, was thinking about all this? When will his independence day come?

A few days before Independence Day, a rich man’s kid (I don’t resent him that) won a Gold medal in the Olympics (I am proud of him) and we set out making him richer still. State Govt. after State Govt. went about showering lavish cash rewards on him (taxpayers money, mind you – money better spent elsewhere, and not necessarily even on sports in a country where education is not available to all). Most newspapers covered him on multiple pages for multiple days, while little kids like the one I wrote about earlier were hawking the same newspapers on the streets.
They knew not sports.
They knew not Olympics.
They knew not Gold (most definitely not) and
They possibly would neither have heard of the Govt. or from the Govt.

And of course there is the electronics media, spends more time covering events like two celebrities kissing (breaking news, no less) than they would cover the plight of these kids. I wonder where the sannate ko cheerti hui sanshani, that we need so much is.

Happy Independence Day everyone!

EDIT (19th August)

My Apologies to Times of India. They came up with a wonderful campaign called Teach India on 15th August.

Shobha De published an Article on TOI on 17th August which bears an uncanny resemblance to this post of mine! (Mera Bharat Kahan - TOI 17th August, Page 12 - Read it @

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Journey, a Destination

It’s been a while since I last posted. In all probability, the next post may take a while as well. I intend to make the most of this post and say as much as I would like to.
First things first, I was in between jobs and time was at a premium. I started my Career in the Cement Sector, Moved on to Apparels and have now joined a Beer Company. In short, I have now worked in Roti (not really, but allow me the poetic license! and the nutrients are in place), Kapada and Makaan industries. What do we need to survive in this world? Just about that and possibly a credit card and an e-mail ID can be thrown in and it would be perfect! So that sets the agenda for the future, Banking and IT to be the future entries on my CV. Sheer genius, I must say!

To begin at the beginning, after three and a half breath-taking years which I thoroughly enjoyed - except maybe the last 6 months - my last job had started feeling like a chore and it was time to move on, which I did, and here I am, drinking too much beer and it’s not always free, contrary to the expectations of my over enthusiastic beer guzzling friends and family.

One of the first “events” in my new assignment was to take a flight out of the much maligned Bangalore International Airport, which I did, having some trepidation about distance to airport, time taken etc. The distance was exactly 50 km point to point from my house to the Airport – one point to the critiques. However, the time taken, I realized was not significant, 03:11:23 to 03:54:04 – one point to people who believe in taking flights which maximizes the productivity of the day. My suggestion, don’t take any afternoon flights; you won’t get much work done at your destination anyways. In short, it’s a good airport, yes the distance is too much, and yes the connectivity can be bettered, till then, smart travel should help and you can always catch up on your reading, which we hardly ever do nowadays.

The circuit started with a flight out to Cochin (God’s own country is Gods own country!) followed by a flight to Chennai culminating in a day spent at Pondicherry (This isn’t so far removed from God’s own country, is my opinion – The Kind Sir has Dual Citizenship, I guess). The trip followed on to Hyderabad - and yes Rajeev Gandhi International Airport is a few notches better, aesthetics wise than our very own BIA. Shopping Experience, however, is better (make that significantly better) at BIA. But yes, taking off from Hyderabad and landing at Bangalore is decidedly a humbling experience.

I have taken other flights since, and my feelings about BIA remain the same.

I was in Istanbul in the last week of July, the city of two continents, but hardly in an identity crisis. In fact it was a city so sure of itself it gave a new definition to confidence. Wide, well developed roads (with footpaths – Having been in Bangalore for 4 years, I always thought footpaths were a figment of my imagination, mind you). Tramways, people always on the move and of course the belly dancing, you must admire the women for their fitness level; actually, you must just admire the women! Wow! I think I can get away with saying that the Istanbul Roads are inspired by those bellies!

The ride from the Airport to the city is brilliant, you catch the city in its various shades while the Sea remains a constant.

We flew Gulf Air, and on three out of Four Gulf Air Flights we took, the Cabin Crew was brilliant (or seemed brilliant in relation to the fourth one). Unfortunately, on one of the flights, precisely, Gulf Air Flight from Istanbul to Bahrain on the 30th of July (GF 44, 1500 HRS Istanbul Time) – The Airhostess had an attitude bigger and heavier than the rock of Gibraltar and the supervisor was not much help either. Reminded me of traveling (long, long ago, the memory is so feeble) on a state transport bus between Delhi and Roorkee, believe me, the experience is comparable. No, cut that out, the State Transport was better. I would like to fly Gulf Air again, but currently am working on the probability of encountering the same crew again! My math’s a little rusted.

Thankfully, the next stop was BIA (Bahrain International Airport, to be precise) and the Duty Free there makes you forget all hardships. We shopped till we dropped, especially since we had 4-5 hrs to kill. And this you must note, after three days at various locations, we discovered free drinking water here, a total savings of 2 Euros – just right for my coin collection.

Good Old McDonald’s was there in its full glory. Just never realized that a Burger would cost so much!

A last word, I suggest the Indian Govt. change the value of the Rupee to about 100 Euros, otherwise every time you spend money while you are abroad, you spend only small change (an Euro at a time for about 500 times) there and come back home having lost a months salary!