The Dance of Indian Democracy

Posted: April 23, 2009 in Uncategorized

I have wanted to write this blog for a long time now, not only because I
haven’t written anything for almost half a year now, but also because it is
the ‘in thing’ right now…General Elections of the greatest democracy in the
world.

So is this going to be a multi part blog entry which lasts through the
length of the current elections…hmm..maybe yes…that’s what I’ll try, but I
haven’t been very successful in such endeavors earlier, so I wont bank on
it.

How did it all start for me? Well, it all began with these ad campaigns
that almost all tv and radio channels are carrying these days. With a
special reference to an imaginary ‘Mr. Pappu’, these advertisements have
had a huge impact, not only on me but on a whole lot of other folks who
like me would have never felt the need to go out and exercise their right
to vote. The impact was very much visible when I went to the mini
secretariat of Gurgaon to get my name registered for voting. Loads of
people had turned up that day to get their names in the electoral roll
(half of them must have been lazy bums like me, coz it was the last day of
registration). There were disappointments though, mostly because the “babu
log” operating the mini secretariat had close to “no” arrangements for the
increasing number of people eager to register themselves. They were doing
their jobs of course, but it looked as if they had never anticipated the
power of internet and TV campaigns; and they looked horribly under prepared
that day.

After struggling through an uncontrollable queue of enthusiastic first time
voters I was able to get to the front, only to realize that the dude
collecting the papers did not like my proof of address document. Well this
is how that lovely conversation went:

Dude: This is all you have as your address proof
Me: Yes, it was listed as a proof on the “Internet”(all this while
thinking, no I have my bloody house as well, come see for yourself)
Dude: Na, na…ye nahi chalega
Me: Kyoon boss, kya problem hai, “Internet” par to yahi likha tha
Dude: (totally bugged by me using “internet” twice within 2 minutes) Ye
internet wale kuch bhi likh dete hain; are Sharma ji..dekhiye ye chalega
kya…
Sharma Ji: Na, na…kuch aur ho to lao
Me: Abhi aapne meri wife ka yahi document accept kiya hai
Dude: Achha…kar liya kya…oho…chalo de do..par naam aayega nahi..humen kya
Me: Theek hai boss (What a relief)

Two things that I noticed from this sweet conversation above:
1. The dude was not happy with “Internet”, either because the sudden
surge of people trying to get themselves registered for voting
created extra work for him, or maybe because I had put “Internet’s”
word before his, and how can he be wrong.
2. The campaigns played an important part in making the people realize
the importance of voting, but for obvious reasons, they had absolutely no
control over how government machinery works.

I am still not sure whether my name would be there in the new voters list, partly because the dude at the secretariat did not ooze confidence about my chances, but also because the new list hasn’t been released as yet. Either ways, i think i did my best to vote this time around…if the system takes its course i should be voting pretty soon…and i’ll definitely cover that experience in the blog…

A lost soul!!

Posted: November 30, 2008 in Uncategorized

I had been trying to find a good topic to write something on my blog for quite some time now. I had been thinking something on the lines of the India/England cricket series and the great cricket, India has been playing lately. I was in fact watching the fifth game on Wednesday, and did not bother to switch onto any other channel until India scored another victory over England. When i did switch over though, my heart sank. For the next 3 days i watched in shock and horror as a group of insane men held Mumbai hostage and threatened to blow up India’s heart, piece by piece.

Watching the events unfold on television was like watching a reality show, the only difference was that you already knew that there will be no winner at the end of it. I waited with bated breath, hour after hour hoping that the ordeal would end, but it just kept going on. I slept in the night thinking that the morning would bring some good news, but it never did. It was like a never ending 3 day period. It was horrible, something that took all the life i had in me and made me feel helpless, unsafe, sad and betrayed. I felt betrayed by our system, betrayed by our netas, betrayed by the representatives that we elect just so that we can go around doing our daily insignificant tasks.

The only thing that gave me a confidence during these dreadful hours was the dedication with which our defense forces kept going on and on trying to exterminate those cockroaches from their hideouts. At the end of it all, our forces were successful in regaining Mumbai and ending the siege, but the cost was too big. Even though i waited for the operation to end, i had always known at the back of my mind that the aftermath would be even more depressing than the actual events. And it was…the never ending death count, the horror stories of innocent people stuck with sick men who only wanted to kill them, and finally the rodents of our political system , who only aimed at gaining political mileage out of the situation.

The fact is that yet another siege has ended, and that India has been hurt like it has never before. This is not the first time we have lost innocent lives and brave soldiers and quite likely it wont be the last. I have had the courage of standing up each time , thinking that i should trust my government, that they would so something to make a difference, but this time around its a different story. I have never felt so unsafe in my country as i do now, not only for me but for everyone else as well. These kind of attacks not only result in lost lives and grieved families, but also in denting the psyche of any individual. I am afraid that this is what has happened to me.

It would be a difficult task for people who have been affected directly in this insane act, to recuperate and rebuild, whether it is the families who lost their loved ones, or the hotel owners whose buildings were completely destroyed, but the most difficult task would be to repair the dented psyche of an individual who has seen or felt this atrocious act of terror. This is where our system has miserably failed earlier and i hope against hope that this is what does not happen again.

I am angry and my anger is justified, and it is not directed against any individual. I want to feel safe and i have every right to do so. I never want to be in a situation where i feel that a bomb blast is probably better than what happened in Mumbai, just because everything at least ends in a matter of minutes. It will take some time before things get back to normal and probably they never will, but we do have to move on.

The compulsion of life is such that it forces you to move on, but to forget would be as good as putting a gun on your own head and pulling the trigger. I hope that people remember what happened, i hope our government and politicians have the will to improve the situation and not make it a political buck, i hope that our media, newspapers and television channels keep this topic alive and not close the chapter after a few days just like they do for everything else, i hope that the people who lost their dear ones get enough strength to cope up with the situation, i hope things get better in the coming days and finally i hope that i regain my lost soul, the soul which was punctured, hurt and damaged while the ghastly events were taking place in Mumbai. Until that happens i would keep looking for something which can repair my soul..a soul lost to terror.

It would be an understatement to say that driving in Delhi and neighboring areas is a pain beyond comparison. I am sure almost all of us in the now “not so rare” car owner’s clan believe that Delhi’s infrastructure is to be blamed for all the tribulations that we face on the roads. There is only one thing that i have to say to all of you – “Get Real” (okay, i wanted to say a lot of other things, but i’ll keep that to myself).

I would raise my hand up and acknowledge that at least the government is trying to improve the infrastructure, even if its because of the 2010 Commonwealth games, but we will benefit anyway. But can we, the people driving the vehicles, guarantee that a better infrastructure in terms of roads will change all our insane driving habits. I am not too sure about it. I don’t really have to conduct a public survey to verify this.

There is no lack of driving rules in the country, but the inexplicable lack of their implementation is one of the factors that results in bad traffic situations. But who is to blame for this? The governing bodies need to take a part of the blame for being unable to enforce even the basic traffic rules in the country, but I think we, the citizens of the great country on India, are to take the maximum responsibility for the abysmal traffic conditions on the roads.

The way we drive our vehicles not only reflects the utter lack of respect for other people on the roads, but also reflects how insignificant we consider those rules, which have been laid out for us. It also reflects one very important thing, which I consider the root of the problem. Embarrassment. No longer do people of this great country get embarrassed when they do something wrong, and believe me, it’s the same with driving.

The official age of driving in India is 18, and obviously it is considered that before a driving license is handed over to a citizen, he or she is fully mature and competent to take the responsibility of taking a vehicle on the roads. The irony is that when I see people driving their vehicles, it looks no better than a bunch of 3 year olds trying to ram their toy cars into each other. So the question here is whether we, the highly qualified group of engineers, doctors and MBAs are actually competent enough to be driving at all? Here is a simple test that will let you figure it out for yourself.

This test is supposed to basically let you know whether your current age qualifies for driving or not. Anyone who gets offended by an unpleasant surprise should not take this, but I really don’t care. So basically you first take a piece of paper and write down your highest qualification on a corner. Also write down your current age below your qualifications. Say you are a graduate and are 28 years old. Out of those 28 years, you would have taken at least 17 years to graduate. Give yourself 10 points for every year that you spent schooling yourself into a better citizen, which in this case would mean a total of 170 points. For the rest of the years (28-17 = 11), give yourself 5 points each (because you are a responsible & educated citizen by then), which makes it 11*5 = 55 points. Now if we add these 2 the figure comes out to 170+55=225. These are the total number of “good citizen” points that you have in your kitty.

Now comes the hard part. For every driving mistake that you commit, reduce one point from the chart. A driving mistake could be as small as momentarily taking your vehicle in the opposite lane on a 2 way road, and as big as crossing a red light, just because you thought that you are the only smartass wanting to get to somewhere quickly. Do this for a month and see where you stand in the chart. Remember that you are losing a complete “Good driver” year when you lose 10 points (or 5 points, for your working years). The aim of the game is to reflect how much have you gone back in time to your immature days where fun actually meant ramming toy cars into each other. The final count would reflect your age in terms of your state of mind and let you know whether you are even fit enough to drive at all. Do this honestly for a month and see whether it embarrasses you to know that you are doing no better than the people you often blame for the mess on the roads.

If the results of this test take you beyond the official driving age of 18, you should consider yourself a pretty good driver, but I am sure that most of us would reach our infancy by the time the test ends.

I am "LOST"

Posted: June 24, 2008 in lost

Well…its happened to me again…when i ended the freaky rampage, watching “Heroes”, finishing season 1 and season 2 like i am having a late dinner, i had told myself never to do it again…more specifically i had decided never to watch a television series like there is no tomorrow. I proved that i am as incompetent a promise keeper to myself as i am in some other minor daily duties. By the time that you would read this complete entry, i would have completed half of season 4, and maybe i would be sitting on my couch(which by the way is not as comfortable as it used to be), and watching some of the final episodes of LOST trying to figure out why the heck all this ever happened…

Heroes was not as painful, i must say, probably because there were only 2 seasons, but maybe also because it was the first time i had the privilege of watching such a hyped up series online(all legally). Heroes was very fast and pacy, although i must confess having pretty much the same kind of thoughts once season 2 ended on me.

As i keep watching LOST, continuing my epic journey towards that last episode of season 4, i cant hep but admire a couple of facts about the series. For one, how the hell did the creator get hold of such a script? Are people really that good(or twisted, whatever suits you…), or is this actually coming from a bunch of dolphins in an indoor aquarium somewhere deep inside the studios of ABC(refer to one of the episodes of FAMILY GUY, another one of my favorites). Secondly, the only way creators of this series have been able to sustain interest of such a huge mass of people is by clearly showing that there is absolutely no one on that darn island that I as a viewer can actually trust, and that when i go to bed at midnight after watching another round of episodes, my eyes all dazed with the amazing “connections i have made with the island”, i actually have to end up thinking that maybe, just maybe if i would have watched one more, i would have been able to understand what the f@#k is going on, right there, on that freaky island…

Obviously you do know now that i am a big fan, because i have actually made it to season 4, just out of the curiosity of finding out whats happening or whats going to happen next. The sneaky feeling that i have as i write these final lines over here is that there is still a lot to go. I remember complaining back in India about soaps which never end and carry on with senseless plots and worthless characters, and i do complain a lot about LOST as well(ask my wife, she knows all about it), but the big difference here is that as soon as i close the lid of my machine, i would like to go back to the television, and switch on just one more episode of LOST…maybe..just maybe, this next episode is the one which has all the answers i am looking for(i would not mind even if John Locke is the one who finds the answers, although i think he is more likely to blow up something or someone before he does)

Something tells me, thats not quite going to happen that soon…until that does happen i will remain very very “LOST”…(wish this could end with the music post each episode 🙂

Bollywood blogs…

Posted: June 9, 2008 in Uncategorized

Lately the blogging bug has bitten bollywood pretty deep, and it seems that everyone is starting to show their talents on the blogs. Fair enough…we all have a right to express our opinions whether it is in print media or the visual media. The only minor complain i have is that the hits on my blog have reduced(from 2 to some negative number:)) from the original number since these mega bollywood stars have hit the web market.

It was fun observing the few spats these people had last month with Amitabh Bachchan trying to score points on Shah Rukh and then Amir Khan trying to do the same in a much cheaper manner. See..thats the fun of being an oblivious blogger, not many people read it, so i can go ahead and write crap about people without worrying too much…what happened in the case of these bollywood bloggers was a sharp reaction from the Indian media which led to some good reading for us as well. These misadventures are a part and parcel of being famous in India.

I visited Amitabh Bachchan’s blog today for the first time and it makes for a pretty good read. I have always admired the person as such, so seeing another facet of his life is a good experience. The latest posts have some good information about his latest movie in which he is playing a Jenie..nice going…this guy will play every possible role that bollywood has to offer, and yeah unlike some others, he will also pull it off…

On another note, i haven’t seen a movie for quite some time now..i think i should..catch you later…

Looking for creativity…

Posted: May 19, 2008 in Uncategorized

I have recently found it very hard to compose something for this blog. I would be lying if i dont attribute most of this to my work schedule which is not something i want to blog about, but its mostly lack of creative ideas on my part. There are times when i find something very interesting in the morning and i think that when i get back home in the evening i would create a lengthy, unnecessary blog about it, but evidently even after almost 2 years of consulting i am unable to add enough spice to the topic such that it becomes worth posting..damn my brain…

Lately i have also been thinking whether there is some part of my brain has totally lost the touch it used to have earlier(some of you who actually hated my writings, please ignore), or is it just that there is nothing interesting enough around me these days. I’ll probably go for the later. With quite a few things happening in the world right from the insanely increased gas prices, to the great revelation that Indians are consuming all the rice in the world(hmm, that would have been a good subject to write about..damn my brain again..); from the great cricket being played in IPL to the some not so great incidents(the slapping incident was damn funny man…), there have been enough things to write about, its just that i have not been able to focus enough to convert any of these subjects into an interesting blog…

I am not sure if this attempt to try and find where the fault lies would come as a good read for any of you readers(if you are reading this, you really do have a lot of time :-), but this is my way of trying to coerce myself into the writing habit again…i am missing it pretty badly…

So if any of you have any ideas..i am waiting…

The Chennai Chronicles

Posted: March 25, 2008 in Uncategorized

Dated 20th March, 10:00 PM

It seems to be quite a habit of mine to start off the sentence in this blog with something like “I’m back”, “back again” and similar other blah blah stuff. Not this time champ…although I have a sneaky feeling that I have actually done it again.

I have been trying to write something since I landed up in India, but I guess I suffered the famous “writer’s block”, which for everyone’s reference (and to avoid any case of …), is something that is used quite often by Mr Scott Adams in his books. Anyone who reads this blog would realize that I am a big fan of his writing and I have been using quite a few of his examples often, with due credit to him ofcourse.

But this time around its not about my lazy attitude, or about good ol Scotty…this time around its about my trip to India, more specifically to Chennai…I am not sure how I am going to go through this one, but I have a sneaky feeling that it might be in flashback. Should be fun, atleast I hope it will be…

I am on my way to Delhi right now, in a Spicejet ( a domestic carrier) flight and luckily I have the aisle seat on the emergency exit, which for a man of my dimensions is the best bargain on a flight. Lets rewind a little actually…the morning today started of with the same thought as every morning for the past 20 days…”why is everything so bloody expensive in India”…I have been waking up with that thought since I landed up in India, and still, after 20 days I have not been able to cope up with the fact that my country has become so expensive in the past year. The only respite I get is when I convert the money spent in dollars…not that I am very happy doing it, but it somehow calms my nerves a little. I have had a tough time convincing myself that India was not as expensive a country when I left about an year ago…I still am having the same issues in the flight as the grumpy looking air hostess tries to sell a sandwich worth 60 bucks to me…Ofcourse I refused…i would rather be hungry than purchase a sandwich which is worth 60 bucks…

Enough of my cheap financial talks…take your time and decide whether its India that’s expensive or its me who has turned into a cheap little weasel. Do remember that I paid the auto rickshaw guy 80 bucks for a 3 Km ride from my office to the place I stay Ofcourse I could not have argued much, because the only thing I understood in my conversation with him was “80 sir…no no 80 sir”…the rest I assumed was Tamil for “What an idiot…I screwed him totally today…God give me one of his species everyday”.

Lets flashback a little more…I arrived at the Chennai airport well before time my flight was due…Its been a long time since I have been to a domestic airport in India, but I knew what to expect. The baggage check, the boarding pass and then the security check; I landed up a seat inside the lounge waiting for my flight, but as luck would have it it started pouring down heavily in Chennai and the flight was delayed for an hour. I had to spend my time watching “Lost” on my ipod and hoping that no one takes my watching the story of people wrecked in a plane crash otherwise, on an airport…Luckily no one did…I made a small visit to the airport lavatory as well, which was not a visit worth bragging about. I was actually left wondering, how talented people who visited this place before me were…there were quite a few artistic paintings on the walls accompanied with very explicit language, which made me wonder why we don’t produce enough M.F Hussains in this country, Believe me, the imagery, though very provocative, was symmetrically drawn and the language associated with it, again not suitable for children, was very interesting to read. For everyone who thinks that somewhere down in this blog I will reveal what all that was…you are mistaken…but I am sure I have raised enough curiosity that the next time you visit Chennai airport, you may end up discovering the art yourself…

To be continued….

Ended : 10:50 PM